By David Joel Miller.
How many ACA’s are there?
These initial things don’t always mean what we think. Different groups of people mean different things by the same set of initials and the same group or condition may get more than one shortened reference. Currently, we are struggling with a sudden shift in the meaning of ACA. I will give you some possible meanings for ACA in a moment.
There is a lot of research out there and more being published every day. Sometimes I think that I read way too much of that research. Is there a treatment for excessive research preoccupation?
The convention in research is that the first time a writer uses a term in their article they give the full name of the condition, theory or test instrument they used followed by the abbreviation they will be using in parentheses. Thereafter they use only the abbreviation.
For example, older articles on Pervasive Developmental Delay used to read Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD.) Thereafter the article would only talk about PDD. With the DSM-5, Pervasive Developmental Delay became a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD.) There is now a new disorder Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD.) Persistent Depressive Disorder is pretty much like the thing we used to call Dysthymia.
So if you see PDD in an article look back to the beginning of the article and see what the original term was that is being shortened to PDD.
So what is ACA?
In the mental health field, ACA has several meanings. Most likely these days ACA refers to the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) This is big here in America, right now, in that it expanded medical coverage to a lot more people. Unfortunate this does not mean that everyone here in the U. S. has medical insurance. There are still a lot of poor people who do not have medical insurance. We still have a long way to go to get everyone health insurance.
This does not mean those uninsured people do not receive medical care. They still show up in hospital emergency rooms and get free care there. The difference is that without insurance there is no provision for who will pay for that care and so the public gets the bill. Sure if you have no insurance they mail you a bill, but if you are homeless you are not likely to pay that bill.
The result of this system is that the uninsured are discouraged from seeking care if they have anything at all until they are dying and then the rest of us get that bill. This presumably saves money by avoiding preventative care and only having publicly funded care after there is a serious medical emergency. I will step off my large soapbox now and resume my place on the smaller soapbox.
ACA means something special to Professional Counselors.
The American Counseling Association (ACA) is a major organization in the counseling field. Most professional counselors, clinical counselors, mental health counselors and so on are members of the ACA (American Counseling Association.)
If you are a counselor you should be a member of the ACA and/ or its local affiliate. Here in California that would be CALPCC. Some people are members of both.
If you are a counselor that sees people with Behavioral Health coverage under the ACA (Affordable Care Act) you should especially be a member of the ACA (American Counseling Association.) I am still not sure why we call emotional and mental illnesses “Behavioral Health.”
ACA is also for people in recovery.
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA.)
Adult Children Anonymous (ACA.)
And that’s not all the ACA’s.
One internet source (http://www.acronymfinder.com/ACA.html) lists 241 different ACA’s. This includes groups in Australia, Austria, Alaska, and Arizona. They also list groups of Accountants, Actuaries and other “A” occupations. Just reading that list has started to make my head hurt.
We will leave our discussion of ACA there.
FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.
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