Counselors Prepare to Assist Returning Servicemembers

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98% of American Counseling Association members have taken action to increase their understanding of post-combat mental health issues, Capella University survey says

I'm not surprised with these results

Almost 100 percent of American Counseling Association (ACA) members who completed a Capella University survey on military mental health issues have taken action to increase their understanding of post-combat and re-entry issues of returning servicemembers. The results also indicated that ACA survey respondents feel better prepared to help post-combat servicemembers than other mental health professionals who took the survey.

ACA members feel better prepared to help servicemembers
The ACA member results reveal some interesting contrasts and parallels with other mental health professionals who took the survey. Highlights include (all statements refer to those who took the Capella University "Joining Forces America" military-mental health survey):

  •     Eighty-four percent of ACA members feel prepared to help post-combat servicemembers, compared to 61 percent of other mental health professionals.
  •     Nearly all ACA members (98 percent) have taken at least one step to improve their understanding of post-combat and re-entry issues, compared to 75 percent of other mental health professionals.
  •     Neither ACA members nor other mental health professionals feel the mental health community as a whole is prepared to help returning servicemembers. Seventy-three percent of ACA members and 64 percent of other mental health professionals said they believe the mental health community is not prepared.
  •     Only 6 percent of ACA members said they had little or no knowledge of post-combat psychological conditions, compared to 27 percent of other mental health professionals.

"I'm not surprised with these results," said Richard Yep, CAE, executive director of the ACA. "The mental health needs of returning servicemembers and their families have been a strong focus of our organization for several years now. We've made a point of bringing this issue to our members' attention and are committed to helping provide counselors with the resources they need to address this growing challenge. We've offered multiple educational sessions on this topic at our conferences over the past several years, and also offer ongoing access to publications and continuing education courses on our Web site. In addition, we have advocated for federal laws that will provide military troops with greater access to mental health care." One of ACA's 19 Divisions--the Association for Counselors and Educators in Government--represents counselors and educators in government and military related agencies.

"We're pleased to have ACA participation in this survey, and we applaud the many efforts they have made to focus attention on this issue," said Chris Cassirer, acting president of Capella University. "Like the ACA, Capella has a strong interest in the issue of military mental health because mental health professionals and military personnel represent two of our largest groups of students. We believe a big part of the challenge in meeting servicemembers' mental health needs is making sure there are enough qualified professionals to address the need. Our online counseling and psychology programs--including the only online CAPREP-accredited master's-level counseling specializations--make it more feasible to pursue advanced degrees in the mental health field."

Capella sponsors online conversation about this issue
To invite further conversation and better understanding of the mental health and re-entry issues of returning troops, Capella University has created an online public forum,, where anyone can contribute ideas and suggestions. A summary report of the Joining Forces America study is also available on the site.

About the Joining Forces America study
The study was sponsored by Capella University to explore post-combat mental health and re-entry issues from the perspective of returning servicemembers and the mental health community, and to solicit ideas for what we as a society can do to make post-combat transitions smoother for returning servicemembers. Two separate but similar survey instruments were used, one for servicemembers and one for mental health professionals.

The confidential servicemember survey was conducted online between May 27 and June 4, 2008. The survey group consisted of Capella University adult students who were affiliated with the military, including active servicemembers, veterans, and their immediate family members. Combat zone experience by the individual or an immediate family member was required to participate in the survey. In total, 238 participated as servicemembers/veterans and 11 participated as family members. The sample size of the family members was too small to be statistically reliable and their results are not included in this report. For the purposes of this report, the term "servicemember" is used to report the combined responses of servicemembers and veterans.

The confidential mental health professional survey was conducted online between May 27 and June 8, 2008, among four groups: an online panel of 201 mental health professionals; 29 members of a military psychology online discussion group; 1,064 Capella University adult students and alumni who were enrolled in or graduated from an advanced degree program with a mental health, counseling, or psychology focus; and 37 Capella University psychology and counseling faculty members. The reported results include the responses of the 999 survey participants in these four groups who identified themselves as working mental health professionals.

Additionally, members of the American Counseling Association were invited to complete the mental health professional survey in the June 17, 2008, and July 1, 2008, editions of ACAeNews, an email newsletter of the association. Fifty-one ACA members completed the survey between June 17 and July 8, 2008. The initial survey respondents may or may not have also included ACA members. A copy of the revised survey report with ACA results included is available by emailing

About the American Counseling Association
The American Counseling Association is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. Founded in 1952, ACA is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings. By providing leadership training, publications, continuing education opportunities, and advocacy services to more than 41,000 members, ACA helps counseling professionals develop their skills and expand their knowledge base.
ACA has been instrumental in setting professional and ethical standards for the counseling profession. The association has made considerable strides in accreditation, licensure, and national certification. It also represents the interests of the profession before congress and federal agencies, and strives to promote recognition of professional counselors to the public and the media. For more information, please visit or call 800.347.6647.

About Capella University
Capella University ( is an accredited*, fully online university that has built its reputation providing quality graduate education for working adults. Eighty-three percent of Capella students are currently enrolled in master's or doctoral degree programs in business, information technology, education, human services, psychology, public health, and public safety. Capella also offers bachelor's degree programs in business, information technology, and public safety. Within those areas, Capella currently offers 109 graduate and undergraduate specializations and 15 certificate programs. More than 23,700 learners were enrolled as of June 30, 2008, from all 50 states and 45 other countries. Capella is committed to providing high-caliber academic excellence and pursuing balanced business growth. Founded in 1993, Capella University is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Capella Education Company, headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, please visit or call 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552).

Learn more about Capella's services and scholarship for military-affiliated students: or call 1.888.315.8001.

Learn more about Capella's graduate programs in the fields of counseling and psychology:

*Capella University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA),

Capella University, 225 South Sixth Street, Ninth Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55402, 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552),

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