Guide to Professional Counseling Conferences (2021)

Conferences have the potential to benefit professionals on multiple planes. Conferences introduce counseling professionals to new strategies, techniques, or knowledge to deepen their capacity to serve their clients. They also can connect counselors to their peers, providing a network for support, business partnership, and more. They give professionals the opportunity to connect with businesses providing services, technology, or products that can be useful to them or their clients. Some even hold space to honor counselors doing groundbreaking or superlative work through awards ceremonies.

Despite the impact of a Covid-19, many organizations are still working to provide all the boons of the conference experience to those within the professional counseling community. Many happening early in 2021 are offered as a virtual experience, while those scheduled for later in the year are doing so based on the hope of being able to gather in-person in large numbers.

The benefit of virtual conferences can really be seen in CE opportunities. Most virtual meetings are keeping proceedings available on-demand well after the conference concludes, giving counselors the ability to earn as much CE as possible from their registration fee.

The impact of Covid-19 also means that some counseling conferences are being held in a hybrid (virtual and/or in-person) format, allowing those who aren’t geographically close still can access the conference without the cost of travel or lodging. The hybrid format also allows those attending in-person to access any compelling sessions they missed.

The following guide to professional counseling conferences in 2021 offers information regarding specific conference offerings, registration price ranges, number of CEUs being offered, and conference format.

Conferences for Professional Counselors of All Disciplines

ACA 2021 Virtual Conference Experience

The American Counseling Association’s virtual conference experience promises the same continuing education, networking, and professional development for licensed counselors as their annual in-person flagship educational event. Each week of the live events for the ACA conference experience has a theme that features a unique keynote speaker. Themes throughout the experience include self-care, students and new professionals, skill-building, and the business of counseling.


Conference content will be recorded and available to conference attendees for one month following the close of the live conference experience. To foster networking with counselors across the globe, ACA is providing a virtual framework where counselors can chat privately with their peers one-on-one and in groups.

  • Date: April 5-30, 2021
  • Location: Online
  • Cost: $99 (student, early); $249 (non-member, regular)
  • CE Opportunities: Hundreds of contact hours

Multi-Disciplinary Conferences Offered By State-Based Counseling Associations

57th Annual SCCA Conference

The South Carolina Counseling Association’s 57th annual conference is a hybrid offering, with the option to attend sessions in person or virtually. Notable speakers at this conference include S. Kent Butler, the ACA president-elect and University of Central Florida’s interim chief equity, inclusion, and diversity officer, as well as Dr. Ahmad Washington, a professor in the University of Louisville school counseling program.

In addition to education sessions, an awards ceremony, and keynotes, there are free pre-conference offerings. Topics for these sessions include school counselors and students struggling with anxiety; creative approaches to supervision; 300 milliseconds and the limits of cognitive change; supervision around theory adoption; ethics and supervision; and collaboration during the co-facilitation of online groups.

  • Date: February 18-21, 2021
  • Location: Hilton Head, South Carolina / Virtual
  • Cost: $100 (student, early); $240 (non-member, on site)
  • CE Opportunities: 16.5 contact-hours

NCCA 2021 Annual Conference

The theme for the North Carolina Counseling Association’s 2021 virtual annual conference is, “Stronger Together: Building for the Future of Professional Counseling.”

The tracks available to those attending the virtual conference include child/adolescent/play therapy, clinical/agency, addictions/substance use, supervision/ethics, advocacy/social justice, and telemental health. In addition to educational tracks, the conference features yoga, wellness events, and an annual awards ceremony.

The keynote speaker for NCCA’s 2021 conference is S. Kent Butler who is a professor of counselor education at the University of Central Florida, the ACA president-elect, and has demonstrated leadership in the arena of diversity and inclusion.

Free pre-conference offerings include disaster cycle services, telemental health, mass casualty and disaster mental health fundamentals, and counseling for interracial and intersectional relationships.

  • Date: February 24-27, 2021
  • Location: Online
  • Cost: $40 (student, early); $180 (non-member, regular)
  • CE Opportunities: 41 contact hours

2021 KCA/KCSA Conference

The Kansas Counseling Association and Kansas School Counselor Association may be offering a conference, depending upon CDC and state regulations regarding larger gatherings. The Keynote speaker for the annual conference is Matthew Gallagher, MEd, LCPC. Mr. Gallagher’s talk topic is “Learning to Serve,” where he will be discussing self-acceptance, acceptance of others, and personality-informed research.

The KCA/KCSA conference includes keynote speakers, breakout sessions, awards ceremonies, a president’s reception, and pre-conference offerings on ethics. Topics in KCA/KCSA’s 2020 conference included techniques for incorporating mindfulness, survival tips for the beginning counselor, LEGO-based play therapy, the role of community in addressing collective trauma, and being present in the moment.

  • Date: March 24-26, 2021
  • Location: Topeka, Kansas
  • Cost (in 2020): $120 (student, late); $250 (non-member, late)
  • CE Opportunities: TBD

SDCA 2021 Conference

The South Dakota Counseling Association is hosting a conference with the theme of “Music: Harmony, Community, Diversity, Serenity, Advocacy.” Because of concerns regarding Covid-19, there is a possibility that this conference may be held online; the decision will be made at the association’s January meeting.

The 2019 SDCA conference provided attendees with a mixture of regional chapter meetings, social gatherings, educational breakout sessions, an awards banquet, keynote speakers, and wellness sessions. Examples of sessions offered in 2019 include embodied learning, gender health for counselors, using play to nurture healing, strategies to help improve adolescent self-esteem in the age of social media, and practicing self-compassion as counselors. The topics for 2021 have not been announced.

  • Date: April 15-17, 2021
  • Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota or Virtual (TBD)
  • Cost: $40 (student, early); $180 (non-member, regular)
  • CE Opportunities (in 2019): 22 contact hours

Conferences for Addiction and Substance Abuse Counselors

UWSP 17th Annual Mental Health And Substance Use Recovery Training Conference

The theme for the 17th annual mental health and substance use recovery training conference held by the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point is “Navigating Change with Courage, Hope, and Strength.” UWSP is asking for proposals for the 2021 conference that demonstrate evidence-based practices, include lived-experience narratives, focus on diverse populations, encourage strength-based approaches, energize participants, enhance skills, and support recovery.

USWP’s 16th annual conference was open to counseling professionals and community members and included a mixture of breakout sessions, a virtual exhibit hall, keynote spears, tea time, listening sessions, and recovery meetings. Breakout sessions in the 2020 virtual conference included supporting parents to support recovery, trauma-focused therapy, how binge eating disorder mimics substance use disorder, relapse, and understanding equity, diversity, and inclusion.

  • Date: October 27-29, 2021
  • Location: Virtual
  • Cost: TBD
  • CE Opportunities (in 2020): 11 contact hours

NAADAC 2021 Annual Conference

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, will hold its 2021 conference either in-person in Seattle or as a live virtual conference, depending on the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.

NAADAC is currently seeking 2021 workshop proposals in the following areas: practice management, administration/operation and technology, co-occurring disorders; psychopharmacology, medication-assisted treatment, pharmacotherapy, or advanced SUD-specific treatment; clinical skills, cultural humility; process addictions; recovery support (clinical); education/INCASE; and peer recovery (non-clinical).

A virtual conference in 2020, NAADAC’s annual conference provided attendees with a mixture of keynote sessions, breakout sessions, exhibit hall breaks, town halls, mutual support meetings, and leadership Q&As. Sessions during the 2020 conference included ethical considerations for recovery coaches, trauma-integrated addiction treatment, relapse and recycling, culturally relevant clinical work, and meaning in life, self-forgiveness, and locus of control in recovery.

  • Date: October 29-November 3, 2021
  • Location: Seattle-Bellevue, Washington OR Virtual (TBD)
  • Cost (in 2020): $350 (student); $450 (non-member)
  • CE Opportunities (in 2020): 28 contact hours

Conferences for Grief Counselors

UWL International Death, Grief, and Bereavement Conference

Through its international death, grief, and bereavement conference, the University of Wisconsin La Crosse Center for Death Education and Bioethics and Extended Learning is offering professional counselors the ability to learn more about how to help people navigate ambiguous loss (i.e., loss without closure or loss without understanding that the loss has occurred).

Conference topics for the 2021 conference that may pique counselor interest include mental health and spirituality of the dying and grieving, best practices and contemporary therapies for grief, children’s grief, conflict management and communication during grief, managing caregiver stress, and social justice and grief.

UWL’s conference offers attendees three strands (tracks) to help guide meaningful conference participation: contemporary therapies, caregiver grief, and administrative best practices.

  • Date: June 6-9, 2021
  • Location: La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • Cost: $40 (one-day, early); $575 (full conference, regular)
  • CE Opportunities: TBD

Conferences for Marriage and Family Counselors

TAMFT 2021 Annual Conference

“Standing in Solidarity: Confronting the Uncomfortable” is the theme for the Texas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s annual conference. Happening virtually, the crux of the conference is addressing how to be social change agents, how to recognize and confront bias within the self and communities, how to address systemic oppression within the MFT culture, and how to become allies to marginalized colleagues.

TAMFT’s virtual conference features exhibitor roundtables, workshops, poster presentations, yoga, summits, and two keynote speakers. Workshop topics include deliberately practicing cultural sensitivity, fostering cultural humility in supervision, LGBTQIA interactions with healthcare systems, respect-focused therapy with marginalized clients, and confronting unintended racism in the therapist.

  • Date: March 4-6, 2021
  • Location: Virtual
  • Cost: $175 (student member, early); $435 (non member, regular)
  • CE Opportunities: 15.5 contact hours

Conferences for Mental Health Counselors

2021 AMCHA Annual Conference

The theme for the 2021 American Mental Health Counselors Association annual conference is “Unite! Recognize. Reframe. Restore.” The conference offers attendees several tracks to follow throughout the conference, including ethics, diversity, trauma, addictions, substance use and co-occurring disorders, technology, neuroscience, child and adolescent, forensic evaluation, specialized clinical assessment, integrated care, supervision, couples and family, integration, gender identity, advocacy, military, and developmental and learning disabilities.

In addition to chapter leadership summits, keynote/plenary sessions, lunch and learns, and educational sessions like “a multi-faceted approach to cravings management” and “advocating social justice and education future social change agents,” the conference has pre-conference training offerings as well. Topics for the sessions include treatment of eating disorders, psychotropic medications, and the neurobiology of trauma.

  • Date: June 23-25, 2021
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Cost: $99 (student, early); $249 (non-member, regular)
  • CE Opportunities: 20 contact hours

Conferences for School Counselors

2021 ACCA Conference

The theme for the American College Counseling Association’s annual conference is “Navigating Challenges, Leading our Future). The year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Cirecie West-Olatunji, will be presenting on, “Social Justice Counseling in Higher Education in the Age of Coronavirus.” In addition to Dr. Olantuji’s keynote, there are seven breakout sessions that offer college counselors continuing education contact hours.

Examples of breakout sessions available at the 2020 ACCA conference included ethical challenges for college counseling counselors, implementing a students’ of color group at a predominantly white institution, cognitive processing therapy on a community college campus, clarifying the affirming role of the counseling center on today’s campuses, and using ACT to develop a philosophy of self-care.

  • Date: February 18-19, 2021
  • Location: Virtual
  • Cost: $100 (student); $190 (non-member)
  • CE Opportunities: 12 contact hours

ASCA 2021 Conference

“All In” is the theme for the American School Counselor Association’s 2021 conference. ASCA’s conference offers school counselors the opportunity to network with peers from across the country, the chance to find companies offering products to help with their work, and the opportunity to earn continuing education units.

  • Date: July 11-14, 2021
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Cost: $219 (one-day, early); $659 (non-member, late)
  • CE Opportunities: TBD
Becca Brewer

Becca Brewer

Writer

Becca Brewer is building a better future on a thriving earth by healing herself into wholeness, divesting from separation, and walking the path of the loving heart. Previously to her journey as an adventurer for a just, meaningful, and regenerative world, Becca was a formally trained sexuality educator with a master of education.