Day on the Hill and Membership Spotlight




Tennessee Counseling Association Visits the Hill! 

By Lisa Henderson, Legislation and Public Policy Committee Chair

February 18, 2020 Counselors across Tennessee will visit Capitol Hill to meet with our elected officials in the Tennessee General Assembly.

No matter what kind of counseling you do and no matter what your work setting, the laws of Tennessee determine how you work. The state determines standards for School Counselors. The state oversees the license of mental health counselors. Whether you work in a school, agency, university, treatment center, private practice, hospital, or any other setting your work is ultimately regulated by the Tennessee General Assembly. The Tennessee Counseling Association wants to have a voice in those decisions, so we’re going to where it all happens and we want you to join us. 

Our Day on the Hill has two goals for our attendees: 

  1. Demystify the legislative process. 

In years past when we’ve needed to rally in support of or opposition to a bill, we hear the same refrain: I don’t feel comfortable getting involved because I don’t understand how the legislative process works. The underlying message is that people are often afraid to get involved because they are afraid they’ll say or do the wrong thing to the wrong person or at the wrong time. We’re here to help eliminate that fear. We’ll have a legislative overview in the morning of our Day on the Hill to go over the legislative process in Tennessee and give you talking points for your conversations with your elected officials. We elect our members of the Tennessee House and Senate to work in our best interests. You have a right to understand how things work and get involved when you see fit. 

2.     Connect with your elected officials. 

Our elected officials can’t represent us if they don’t know what we do and what’s important to us. Counseling is a broad term and means different things to different people. We want our elected officials to hear it straight from us. We want you to tell your stories about the work you do, why certain issues are important to your ability to practice, and how the decisions they make impact your ability to do your job. We need our elected officials to understand the education and training that is required to be a counselor. We want them to understand counselors as small business owners, see the value of counselors with students and the developing workforce, and counselors’ role in reducing the total cost of care for Tennesseans enrolled in TennCare. 

Counselors in all settings provide immeasurable value to the people we work with. We need to let our elected officials know what we do and the impact we have. This gives us a stronger voice when issues arise in which we need to have a voice. 

You don’t need any previous experience as a legislative advocate. You don’t need to be an expert on the legislative process. All you need to do is attend. We’ll make sure you can forge an actual relationship with your elected members of the Tennessee House of Representatives and Tennessee State Senator. If you already know your elected officials, then how lovely to visit them at work! 

Learn more and Register at 



Member Spotlight

What is your name

LaTraci Aldridge

What TCA Chapter/Division are you a member of? 

West TN Counseling Association and TN School Counseling Association (TnSCA)

How long have you been a member of TCA? 

On and off since 2010

How has TCA influenced your career or practice? 

TCA has encouraged me to be more vocal about the counseling profession and what I do.  I worked as a virtual school counselor for 5 years and through TCA I learned that there were not a lot of people familiar with virtual school counseling or that it was even a thing.  I have used presentations and conferences as a way to promote the profession and educate others. 

Additionally, TCA has influenced me to make sure I stay on top of what’s going on in the field so I can be informed as well as be the best counselor I can be through professional development opportunities.  

Share a little bit about your background and your journey to becoming a counselor. 

A journey it has been.  I always knew I wanted to work with kids, but I didn’t want to teach. I graduated with my Bachelor's in Psychology in 2005.  Initially, I worked at Sears selling TVs. J Even with that job I saw how having a psych background was beneficial in working with customers. My 1st job in the field came in 2006 at Youth Villages as an Overnight Teacher Counselor at juvenile sex offender facility.  This was a job that literally smacked you in the face when it came it the issues the kids were faced with and what led them there.  However, it was also rewarding and allowed me to gain experience that I don’t think I could’ve gotten anywhere else and has helped to shape the professional I am today.  From there, I went to work at a juvenile detention center as a counselor while I worked on my Masters in Counseling. When that facility closed, I worked as a Foster Care Worker until I graduated with my Masters in 2010 with a concentration in School Counseling.   I struggled to find work in the education system after graduation, somewhat due to my graduating when the local district was going through major changes and mergers. I landed at a Career College as a student counselor and GED Program coordinator. This job tested my limits and showed just how much I was capable of doing.  At one point, I was the only person in a department that usually had 4 or 5 people. In 2013, I left the career college and started working at a virtual school. My initial role wasn’t a school counselor, but over the 5 years I was there and my role transitioned that is what I ended up doing in the end. This job taught me that even with distance and not seeing kids face-to-face every day that relationships could still be built.  I was able to be a counselor without a lot of the extra unnecessary tasks that some of my counterparts may have dealt with such us bus duty, lunch duty, administration tasks, etc. I was able to really flex my counselor's muscle. Eventually, I wanted to work in high school and I started working at my high school alma mater in 2018 as the 12th-grade counselor. I have loved working with my students and they are a mess, in a good way.  They push me to do better because I want them to do the best they can do. I see what they can achieve, even when they can’t and I work to help them see their full potential.  I push them because I know there is a greatness in them. 

Currently, I am working on my Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision at The University of Memphis.  I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as I am in the dissertation phase **Send help!!** My research focus is Virtual School Counseling.  

What is your current work setting? 

I currently work at Cordova High School as the 12th-grade counselor 

Do you have a specialty or a particular area of interest? 

My specialty is School Counseling.  I enjoy working with teens, especially those who may be disenfranchised.  My favorite clientele to work with is juvenile delinquency. It’s something about working with them that makes me root for them.  I think for me it is that in a lot of cases everyone else has said that they won’t ever do any better, but I see past their actions. One thing I felt that helped when I have worked with this population is that regardless of what they did, I still treated them like kids.  They need that. 

Take us through a typical day for you in your current setting.  

As a school counselor, a typical day isn’t really a thing.  My day starts with not opening my door until 7:15 AM. I am not a morning person at all working in a high school. So I need my 15 minutes of quiet to come out refreshed and ready to deal with my children.  Throughout the day I work with students on their academic concerns such as missing classes/credits and how they will complete them. Some days involve dealing with crisis situations such as a suicidal child or having to make a DCS referral.  And some days have all of this in 1 day. I also talk with students about plans after high school. I don’t push solely for college because I don’t think that is the best option for every child. I teach my kids to have a plan, whether that is to go to college or go to work.  Just have a plan. 

Do you have any career or practice aspirations moving forward? 

First and foremost, finish this dissertation.  Even with my Ph.D., I don’t have a desire to leave my current role.  I love working with my kids. I do want to increase my speaking engagements and training of other counselors in the field.  

What advice would you give a counselor-in-training entering the field? 

Be open.  Sometimes that job that you don’t really want may be the job you really need. Be ready to stand up for what you believe in and what you know is right in this field. Be an advocate for this profession. Be you.  Find what works for you and your practice and run with it.  

Tell us a little bit about your recent poster presentation about virtual school counseling. 

My poster presentation was based on my pilot study on virtual school counseling.  I surveyed virtual school counselors about their day-to-date activities as it aligned with the ASCA National Model.  Some of the big takeaways from that study was that although virtual school counselors are able to be counselors more than the brick-and-mortar counterparts, their caseload is well beyond that of traditional counselors.  One of the participants had 3000 students on her caseload. Another takeaway was that for the most part, they felt they had great relationships and rapport with their students. I know on the outside some feel that isn’t possible but speaking from personal experience that is completely not true.  I can recall when I worked at the virtual school and we had field trips and students would be searching for me or one of the teachers just to give them a hug. 



Who should we highlight? 

Do you know a TCA member who is engaged in leadership, research, innovation, or service? If so, we would like to feature them in an upcoming blog post! Fill out the link below to nominate someone to be featured in the Member Spotlight section today!

Member Spotlight Nomination Form: 

Publications Committee

Do you have content you would like to contribute to the TCA Blog? Email [email protected] with your ideas, submissions, or suggestions for improvement!


Share this post:

Comments on "Day on the Hill and Membership Spotlight"

Comments 0-100 of 0

Please login to comment