About a month or so ago I finally joined the American Counseling Association. Leading up to that decision and since that decision, I’ve been wondering if it was worth the expense. I figured a lot of other therapists may be wondering if joined associations such as the ACA, NASW, and APA are worth it. So, allow me to give my analysis.
As far as the membership fee goes, you can get that money back in discounted services offered by your association. However, the amount of value you can expect to get back depends on your own needs and how active you plan on being in the association. For instance, if you plan on going to the Conference every year, definitely do it. If you plan on doing your CEs online and through the association, go for it. You can also buy member discounted books and a few other things. If you’re wondering if the money’s worth it in a pure ROI, there’s a slim return on investment if you’re active in the association.
The next question you may have is “does being a member of the association make me more attractive to potential clients?” If it makes a difference to clients, the difference seems to be minimal. No one has said anything to me about association membership. Ever. I think it could look good on a resume if you’re looking for a job and may look good if you’re trying to get on the insurance panels. It might also help therapists new to private practice establish some credibility. If you’ve been in private practice for a while, I don’t see how association membership would do much for you in regards to attracting clients.
Even with my luke warm endorsement of association membership, I’d still like to encourage EVERY therapist to join there association. The reason why is because it’s important for us therapists to be united. It can often feel like we exist in a bubble, and let’s face it, private practice is very lonely. But therapists need to stand together now more than ever. As individuals, we don’t have the resources to fight the insurance companies and other bureaucracies, but as an association we do. Unfortunately, only a tiny percent of therapists are members in their association. But if more joined, imagine the changes we could make for the better!