Alumni Spotlight: Ross Acker from Counseling and Higher Education

ackerRoss Acker ('05 M.S.), alumnus of the College of Education's Counseling Program, began his counseling career in 2005 and has professional experience in addictions, private practice, corrections and community mental health.  He has served on the Brief Therapy Crisis Team of the Coos County Mental Health Department in North Bend, Oregon for four years where he performs crisis intervention and brief therapy, acts as a liaison to the hospital psychiatric unit and conducts pre-commitment investigations for the State of Oregon.

Acker is also working on developing a closer relationship with law enforcement and is interested in providing training on mental health issues to police officers. He is married, has two children and enjoys running and developing his family's homestead on the beautiful Oregon coast.

We recently caught up with Acker to discuss how his experience at UNT influenced his work today:


What was it like to study at UNT?
"I liked knowing that people from all over the country applied for admission into the graduate program in counseling because of the program's national academic reputation. I felt honored to study along with others that were so passionate about this field."

How did support from faculty help or inspire you?
"I remember the faculty making themselves available outside of the classroom for professional development, discussing our career options, changing theoretical orientations and our own personal growth."

Is there a particular faculty member who made an impact on you during your time at UNT?
"Dr. Jan Holden was one of several professors in the program that really helped refine my counseling theory, self-awareness and real time application of my counseling skills."

How did your experience at UNT prepare you for your career?
"My advanced counseling skills course and two practicums provided me with enough confidence as a counselor intern to perform at a very high level in all of my jobs before completing licensure."

What is the best part of your current job?
"In community mental health you take on a variety of additional and interesting roles as a licensed mental health provider beyond typical duties inherent to a private practice. Sometimes I conduct mental health investigations for the state, give civil court testimony, perform joint outreach with the local police and act as a liaison to the psychiatric hospital."

What are some challenges you face?
"Working as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), we face many challenges in the helping profession. After passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, thousands more people have qualified for Medicaid services in our rural county without any additional mental health providers being hired. Also, professional counselors need a nationalized license, Medicare reimbursement, equal salaries and job opportunities to LCSWs (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and additional graduate course work emphasis on clinical and crisis skills that are required in acute psychiatric settings."

What advice would you give a student majoring in counseling?
"I suggest you focus on development of your counseling skills and remain open to the very specialized and intensive supervisory process unique to the UNT graduate program."

What excites you about the future?
"There are more job opportunities in the community and federal programs such as the National Health Service Corps that now recognize LPCs as qualified mental health providers, thus giving us an opportunity for student loan repayment. For more information, check out the website for the potential of receiving $50,000 for every two years of service in an area of high need."


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