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Professional Associations

Professional organizations are also referred to as professional associations, professional societies and professional bodies. Although frequently used interchangeably, each organization tends to serve a different function. The commonalities they share are usually; they are non-profit, exist to further the reputation and standing of a particular profession, and they serve both the public interest and interests of the member professionals. However, organizations may balance each other in fulfilling these rolls in different ways.

For example, the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBSE) acts to protect the general public by maintaining the qualifications for licensing therapists, requiring continuing education, and legal and ethical standards upheld by members. The Board of Behavioral Science is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Sober Companions , Licensed Educational Psychologists, and interns operating under the Department of Consumer Affairs for each state.

While an organization like AAMFT (American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists) balances the BBSE by serving as an advocate for the members of the mental health professions as opposed to the public. AAMFT is a national professional organization representing over 50,000 members in the field. It is a powerful lobbying organization addressing matters concerned with licensed MFT’s such as inclusion as approved providers under Medicare. They also maintain a national employment opportunities listing, offer CPH Professional Liability Insurance, and sponsor national conferences with the leaders of Marriage and Family Therapy for continued learning.

Where can I get a listing of professional organizations?

The above listed website is sponsored by the New Jersey Medical School. It is one of the largest listings of meetings, organizations and general resources in behavioral healthcare on the internet. There are thousands of organizations listed alphabetically. This free listing contains both well-known and less well-known organizations. is another leading provider of mental health information and services for mental health practitioners and those they serve. The online list consists of organizations serving psychiatrists, pediatricians, family practitioners, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, counselors, researchers, educators, and school psychologists. Their compilation is of the largest and most highly visible professional organizations as follows:

  • Academy for Guided Imagery
  • Academy for the Study of the Psychoanalytic Arts
  • Academy of Organizational and Occupational Psychiatry
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress
  • American Academy of Neurology
  • American Academy of Pain Management
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Academy of Psychotherapists American Art Therapy Association
  • American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • American Association of Neuroscience Nurses
  • American Association of Pastoral Counselors
  • American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists
  • American Association of Suicidology
  • American Association on Mental Retardation
  • American Board of Professional Psychology
  • American College Counseling Association
  • American Counseling Association
  • American Dance Therapy Association
  • American Medical Association
  • American Mental Health Alliance
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association
  • American Neurological Association
  • American Neuropsychiatric Association
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Occupational Therapy Association
  • American Orthopsychiatric Association
  • American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Psychiatric Nurses Association
  • American Psychoanalytic Association
  • American Psychotherapy Association
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine
  • American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute
  • American Trauma Society
  • Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
  • Association for Play Therapy
  • Association for Psychological Science
  • Attention Deficit Disorder Association
  • Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Christian Association for Psychological Studies
  • Clinical Social Work Federation
  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
  • International Association of Pastoral Counselors
  • International Society for the Study of Dissociation
  • International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
  • National Association for Children of Alcoholics
  • National Association for Drama Therapy
  • National Association for Poetry Therapy
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers
  • National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • National Board for Certified Counselors
  • National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Mental Health Association

Addiction Recovery Organizations

Within the addiction treatment and recovery community, there are specific national organizations that exist to serve professional members and the public. One example of an addiction organization is NAADAC, the National Association for Addiction Professionals. It is the largest membership organization serving addiction experts, therapists, addiction counselors, educators and other addiction-focused health care professionals, who specialize in addiction, relapse prevention, treatment and education.

The NAADAC network operates in 46 states with close to 11,000 members. The NAADAC describes their goal in the following way, “NAADAC is the premier global organization of addiction focused professionals who enhance the health and recovery of individuals, families, and communities.” – NAADAC Vision Statement adopted 1998 and “NAADAC’s Mission is to lead, unify, and empower addiction focused professionals to achieve excellence through education, advocacy, and knowledge, standards of practice, ethics, professional development and research.” – NAADAC Mission Statement adopted 1998

It was created in 1972 to represent the concerns and interests of substance abuse counselors. Since that time, NAADAC has evolved as a professional membership organization. NAADAC’s new name – NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals – reflects the increasing number of sex addiction, tobacco, pathological gambling and other addiction professionals who are active in prevention, intervention, treatment and education.

The best known organization serving mental health professionals is the American Psychological Association which is the largest association of psychologists worldwide. The objective of their 148,000 plus members is to advance psychology as a science and a profession as a means of promoting mental health, education and human interests. They accomplish this task by promoting research in psychology, better research methods and improving the qualifications of psychologists though high standards of ethics, conduct and education.

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