Reflections on Social Justice Workshop with Dr. Courtland Lee

Submitted by Lynn Holforty on March 27, 2013

On Saturday, February 23, 2013, Dr. Courtland Lee, professor and director of the Counselor Education program at the University of Maryland, College Park, presented a workshop to 80 students, faculty, helping

From left, Dr. Diana Hulse, chair of the Dept. of Counselor Education; Dr. Lee; Dr. Tracey Robert, associate professor of Counselor Education; and Professor Bob Schmidt.

professionals, and community members on the topic, “Saving our Society: Educators and Helping Professionals as Agents of Social Change.”

Dr. Lee is recognized for his national and international expertise in areas of social justice, multicultural counseling, diversity, and social change. As Joe Graziano, a counseling intern in Fairfield University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program (CMHC) noted, attendees were called on “to look far beyond the confines of a counseling session and to accept the responsibility of being an agent of change at the community and public arena levels.”

Tim O’Connor, another graduate student in the CMHC program. added, “I learned that social justice isn’t going to just happen and it isn’t going to be easy. Based on my conversations with attendees, I think Dr. Lee did a good job of getting people fired up and focused on what they can do where they work to make sure that the needs of under-represented individuals are addressed.”

Lauren Cuccaro Rinn, a counseling intern in Fairfield University’s School Counseling Program, observed, “As a graduate student in my counseling internship I was inspired by Dr. Lee’s message that a helping professional can and should be an agent of systemic change. This goal can be accomplished by identifying social barriers, encouraging empowerment and self-advocacy, and assisting clients and students in carrying out an action plan to overcome such barriers. As counselors, we have a professional responsibility to intervene when a client’s right to human dignity and wellness is being negatively impacted by the abuse of power and privilege.”

Elaine Mattern, a January 2013 graduate of the School Counseling Program, summarized the event by adding, “Dr. Courtland Lee was engaging, humorous, and extremely knowledgeable. He powerfully activated those in attendance to promote social justice from individual to community levels.”

This workshop was sponsored by the Fairfield Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the international honor society for the counseling profession, and the Connecticut Counseling Association. The workshop was provided at no cost to attendees, due to a generous donation to the Fairfield Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota.

The next workshop in the Connections and Conversations Workshop Series will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013. The topic, “Legal and Ethical Issues in School Counseling: From School Violence to Social Media” will be presented by Mary Hermann, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Counselor Education at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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