Power Politics: Advocacy to Activism in Social Justice Counseling


  • Marian A. Lee University of South Florida
  • Tammy Jorgensen Smith University of South Florida
  • Ryan G. Henry University of South Florida




Social justice counseling, Power, Advocacy, Activism, Policy


The authors seek to initiate a broader dialog within the social justice movements across disciplines to include a deeper understanding of how power politics plays out in the social/political domain of the public arena outlined in the American Counseling Association (ACA) Advocacy Competencies. In this domain, counselors act as legislative/policy change advocates. However, in recent years social justice advocates within the profession have called for a more activist stance focusing on changing social structures of unjust systems and institutions as an adjunct to legislative/policy advocacy. Activities engaged in by policy/legislative advocates and structural change activists are discussed. Delineation between the differences in perception of power by political operatives and counseling professionals is examined so counselors may have a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges associated with being social change agents. Future implications for the field are discussed with focus on evidence-based research, training, and the potential use of technology and social media in the social justice advocacy movement.


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How to Cite

Lee, M. A., Jorgensen Smith, T., & Henry, R. G. (2018). Power Politics: Advocacy to Activism in Social Justice Counseling. Journal for Social Action in Counseling & Psychology, 5(3), 70–94. https://doi.org/10.33043/JSACP.5.3.70-94

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