Award finds true counselors

Danielle Pratt

Stephany Joy-Newman, professor and counselor at the WIU Counseling Center, was awarded the C. A. Michelman Award for her outstanding achievements throughout her career at WIU. She was presented this award and plaque at the annual Illinois Counselors Association convention in November 1999. “This award was established by the ICA to honor C. A. Michelman, a pioneer of professional course in Illinois who was responsible for the development of professional counseling programs in Illinois schools and agencies,” Michael Illovsky, counselor and professor at the University Counseling Center, said.The C. A. Michelman Award is annually awarded based on significant contributions in a variety of areas pertaining to professional leadership activities. It is the most prestigious award offered by the ICA and takes an individual’s complete work history into careful consideration before nomination.

The ICA carefully examines counselors’ publications and leadership skills with leadership contributions to their professions through their counseling career.

Joy-Newman qualified based on her leadership contributions through her presidency of both state and national levels of the Illinois Association of Mental Health Counselors, the Illinois College Counseling Association and the American College Counseling Association, among others.

Upon graduation from WIU, Joy-Newman was employed at Spoon River College and Community Mental Health Center for Fulton and McDonough counties before taking a job opening at WIU. According to Joy-Newman, she feels her leadership contribution to the Counselor Licensure Law in the late 1980s had a big effect on the award.

Previously, anyone could claim to be a counselor and psychotherapist without any specified degree toward that field. Those untrained individuals could then claim this job title and inappropriately “treat” unsuspecting patients in ways they felt correct. Joy-Newman felt strongly that a law was necessary to protect individuals from mistreatments and further psychological trauma.

The Counselor Licensure Law requires certain minimal standards in education, specific training and coursework, passing an exam and being supervised by another licensed professor before being able to claim the title of “counselor.” Just as doctors need to receive their M.D. through proper schooling before they can legally practice, counselors now need to meet certain qualifications, thanks to Joy-Newman. She has had numerous publications in multiple journals from 1980 through 1992. Joy-Newman has written book chapters and whole books from 1985 through 1987. She has also presented many national, regional and state presentations from 1982 through 1999. Her plentitude of desire and dedication to her profession were also a factor in her receiving the C.A. Michelman Award after all these years.

Joy-Newman’s newest work is in animal therapy. She brings certified dogs to nursing homes and developmentally disabled homes. The dogs then interact and play with the patients, bringing smiles and positive inner emotions to the people.

Animal therapy is especially effective with patients that have Alzheimer’s disease. In many cases, Alzheimer’s patients will stop talking. When the dog arrives, and after touching and petting the dog, the patient will open up. When the dogs, often German shepherds, put their soft, warm heads in the patients’ laps and look at them with their needy eyes, some patients seem to “snap out of it,” Joy-Newman said.

The dog acts as the interaction vehicle that very often has a positive effect on individuals. The patients who have been quiet for a long time may then speak and want to communicate with the dog. Even if the patients did not have dogs as pets in their younger days, they still seem to enjoy and open up to the presence of the dogs.

According to Joy-Newman, research has shown that one result of animal therapy on the elderly is a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, relaxing the people. It has also been proven that elderly people will stay alive longer if they have a dog to take care of and to love.