Ongoing Advocacy Projects

Ongoing Advocacy Projects from NAU-Flagstaff, NAU-Phoenix, and NAU-Tucson Masters Programs in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

National Alliance on Mental Illness-NAU Chapter

Steve Nickolaisen recently founded and launched a new student organization on campus- National Alliance on Mental Illness-Northern Arizona University Chapter. Steve is a recent graduate of our Master's in Counseling program who is currently pursuing a PhD at Northern Arizona University in Counseling Psychology. Steve, along with Sabrina Stoorman, Erin Hanks, Meagan Holcombe, and Alexis Sanchez (graduates or students currently in the Counseling program), have set up, and are running mental illness support groups on campus for university students. They also provide information on mental health community resources to students.


On February 25th, 2015, during Advocacy Week, Dr. Kendra Surmitis of NAU-Tucson worked with the newly minted Chi Sigma Iota members in Tucson to host a political advocacy awareness session regarding ACA/CACREP advocacy.   Students discussed the merits of writing  a joint letter of support to Arizona legislators designed to create greater awareness of CACREP-accredited counseling programs at the state level.


Dr. Steve Farmer, Program Coordinator of NAU-Phoenix’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, has been actively working with the licensing board for counselors – AZ Board of Behavioral Health Examiners – for the past 2 years on “rules” revisions that govern the activities of Licensed Associate Counselors and Licensed Professional Counselors.  Dr. Farmer’s active participation in these meetings has allowed NAU to have a voice in the future of our evolving profession.

Dr. Farmer has also been actively involved in the Arizona Counseling Association for the past 2 years as well.  Currently, he is working on the logistics and content for AzCA’s Annual Conference to be held in Flagstaff in Summer, 2015.

Dr. Pit Kolodinsky, Program Coordinator of NAU-Flagstaff Counseling programs, helped to launch the Southwestern branch of AzCA, which continues to serve the Yuma and Colorado river region.  AzCA-Southwest is currently under the Presidency of an NAU-Yuma Community Counseling graduate, Jesus Vazquez.  Dr. Kolodinsky also launched the northern Arizona chapter of AzCA in Flagstaff.  Bennett Edgerly, a graduate of our MA in Community Counseling and LAC, was President for Year 1, and Garrison Garcia (current CMHC student) is NAzCA President for Year 2.  There have been 2 NAzCA-sponsored trainings this year so far - ADHD & the DSM-5; and on Current Trends in Substance Abuse, and 2 more scheduled.  Buck Runyan, LPC from Remuda Ranch, will present on current trends in Eating Disorder treatment on March 3rd, 2015, and Kate Sorensen will be presenting on Traumatic Incident Reduction in April, 2015. 


NAU’s Counseling Program faculty met with its Advisory Board on October 15th, 2014 for our Annual Stakeholder meeting.  Stakeholders learned about their collective input from the annual stakeholder survey, and provided invaluable feedback about the future of our Masters programs in School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. 

Advocacy publications by NAU faculty

Thomason, T. C. (2014). Counseling Native Americans and Social Justice. In M. J. Ratts & P. Pedersen (Eds.), Counseling for Multiculturalism and Social Justice: Integration, Theory, and Application. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

Richardson, B. G. & Surmitis, K. A. (2014, November). Responding to the Rise in Self-injury in Youth. Counseling Today, 57(5), 41-45.