A University of Houston-Victoria professor was recently elected to become president of the largest organization in Texas that represents professional counselors and improves access to them.
In November, Katherine Bacon, an associate professor of professional counseling in UHV’s College of Education & Health Professions, was elected president of the Texas Counseling Association by its members. TCA members include certified school counselors and licensed professional counselors who work in different settings, including schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, private practice offices, criminal justice programs, community mental health centers and managed care facilities.
“The mission of TCA is important because it communicates the overall goals of the counseling profession,” said Bacon, who has been a member for 20 years. “By working to ensure that members of the counseling profession have the advocacy, wellness and continuing education they need, our association enables members to better address the mental health needs of the state.”
TCA is the largest state branch of the American Counseling Association, the premier professional association for counselors in the world. Bacon will serve as TCA president-elect for a year beginning July 2022, then assume her one-year presidency term beginning July 2023.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Dr. Bacon has the support of the professionals in her field and their confidence to serve in this role,” said Rachel Martinez, interim dean of the UHV College of Education & Health Professions. “Her students in the counseling program have frequently commented on how she has so positively influenced them and changed the trajectory of their lives in a positive way. I think she has the dedication and professional aptitude and all the skills she needs to be phenomenal in this role.”
Bacon was the TCA’s 2017 Molly Gerald Human Rights Award Recipient. She said her most significant involvement with the organization came with being appointed in recent years to serve as TCA’s liaison with the Texas State Board of Examiners for Professional Counselors, a role she will continue through June 30.
“It is a significant position at the state level that has allowed me to have a voice in representing professional counselors, the clients we serve and the community we serve to the licensure board,” Bacon said. “The licensure board is charged by the governor to protect the public by ensuring that licensed counselors meet the state’s regulatory standards. So to be able to be in the room with them and talk to them and advocate for counselors, clients and the community for several years in a row – that has been tremendously significant, impactful and meaningful for me.”
A significant portion of Bacon’s work in the counseling field has focused on serving people impacted by crises and trauma, particularly people in foster care and survivors of crime. Through the years, she has secured more than $30 million in grant funding to train counseling professionals, provide direct service models, and provide integrated care for medically underserved communities. She also serves as executive director of a nonprofit called the Parris Foundation, which provides counseling, training, and educational services to underserved people.
“Serving underrepresented communities is a passion of mine,” she said.
In an e-newsletter to counseling students last month, Abrán J. Rodríguez, a UHV assistant professor of professional counseling and the school’s counseling program coordinator, shared the news of Bacon’s election and commended her for her “outstanding service to not only UHV, but to Texas and the counseling profession at large.”
As president-elect, Bacon will work with TCA’s board of directors, who represent different groups, specializations and regions of the organization’s membership. Once she becomes president, she will be focused on increasing funding for the counseling profession to improve people’s access to mental health care, and helping other counseling professionals develop as leaders, she said.
“People invested in me and my leadership because they saw something in me that they thought could be cultivated and have an impact, and I’m eternally grateful for that,” Bacon said. “I want to do the same for the next generation.”