Counseling’s Wilson named to national leadership position

Angie Wilson, assistant professor in the College of Education’s Counseling and Higher Education department, was recently named the 2016-17 secretary for the International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors (IAAOC).

Wilson was elected for IAAOC’s secretary position out of three potential candidates. As IAAOC secretary, she will communicate with the American Counseling Association office, the IAAOC membership, and keep track of what’s happening in IAAOC’s different committees.

“The International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors is really great because offender clients are often overlooked in the counseling community,” Wilson said. “Our organization serves that purpose – to provide education, information, resources and guidance to counselors who work with offenders and the addictions population.”

Wilson is the former chair of IAAOC’s Process Addictions committee and is the current chair for IAAOC’s Sex Offender Treatment committee. She has also been a member of the Texas Counseling Association and is the immediate past president of the Texas Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (TACES). Her role as IAAOC secretary is her first national leadership position.

Although the majority of Wilson’s research has focused on issues within counselor education and process addictions (behavioral addictions such as eating disorders, gambling and shopping), in her clinical practice she works with those who have committed sexual offenses.

“I wanted to help people whom others didn’t want to help,” Wilson said. “I wanted to be a person that people could talk to, and I wanted to assist an underserved population. One of the things I believe is that out of all the sex offenders that I’ve provided therapy and counseling to, I know I’ve made a difference in at least one life, and hopefully that helped prevent at least one abuse – prevent one childhood sexual abuse, one rape, one offense.”

The IAAOC recently awarded Wilson with the 2016 Outstanding Addictions/Offender Professional Award. The IAAOC selected Wilson for the award because of her contribution to the field of addictions and offender issues through her clinical practice work with sex offenders.

“I’m so fortunate that IAAOC honored me this year,” Wilson said. “It means a lot to be recognized by your peers, and it means a lot to me working with the sex offender population. So often we get focused on our research and classes, and our clinical practice falls to the wayside. It’s really great to be honored for my clinical practice.”

Wilson is currently working on research project that will incorporate the focus of her clinical practice into her research. Right now, she is in the preliminary process of organizing studies to see if sex offenders who have been in counseling for a longer period of time have more empathy than sex offenders who just began counseling or who have not had any counseling at all. Wilson hopes that from these results, she can ascertain if sex offender counseling truly promotes empathetic development.