“Why Should I Be a Member of a Professional Organization in These Tough Times?”


“Why Should I Be a Member of a Professional Organization in These Tough Times?”

Because times are tough, that’s why!  Forking over the money for membership in a professional organization seems like something that can be forfeited when the pursestrings are so tight that the purse won’t even open.  Many clinicians choose to forego membership in favor of hanging onto their credentials and paying what they need to pay to do that.  They often tell themselves that they’ll rejoin the membership organization when they have more income to spare, but some of these therapists never do find themselves getting back into the fold.  Membership fees aren’t anything to sneeze at, but stop and reconsider what those fees actually buy you and what you are losing out on if you let your membership lapse (and lapse and lapse).  There are the usual promises of networking opportunities, tools and resources, and the advancement of your profession and thus of your career.  These are all very valid things to consider, but they can also be perceived as conceptual and thus intangible or of marginal use to those who are struggling to make ends meet.  So what’s in it for you?


Plenty!  In addition to the bottom line of staying on top of current trends and recent developments (always a plus when facing a job interview or a lawyer), your membership fee buys you some things that you either wouldn’t be able to purchase on your own or would be more expensive if you went it alone.  For example, individuals who are registered and/or board-certified through the Art Therapy Credentials Board receive a 50% reduction in credential maintenance fees if they can demonstrate proof of membership in the American Art Therapy Association.  There’s an instance where membership directly helps people hang onto their credentials!  And membership in the Texas Counseling Association provides individuals with free, unlimited telephone consultations through a legal service—again an example of how membership can help people hang onto their credentials!  Other professional membership organizations have their big, money-saving perks too.  In addition, nearly all such organizations offer discounts for insurance, conferences and continuing education opportunities, hotels and rental cars, and professional and personal services.  We all need these things at one time or another, so obtaining them at less than full-price is optimal.  Members-only job banks can give us the edge when we’re pounding the pavement for our next career move, so don’t overlook that no matter how well-connected you are.


And if you have a bright idea about the future of your profession or some concerns about the direction your profession is headed, membership at the organizational level affords you the opportunity to lend your talents and skills in a leadership capacity.  “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”, as Mahatma Gandhi would say.  A portion of your membership dues may be used to promote supportive legislation on behalf of your profession, thus adding to the notion of “being the change”.  If that’s too indirect a benefit for you, how about writing off your membership dues for tax purposes?  There are probably as many reasons why membership in a professional organization is to your advantage as there are dollars in the membership fee.  If you’ve been thinking about letting your membership lapse or have already let it go, consider the impact of that.  If non-renewal is a matter of dissatisfaction with the level of benefits, that’s one thing.  But if non-renewal is a matter of money, you might consider setting aside one-twelfth of the membership fee each month so you’ll have enough when it’s time to renew.  That way you’ll never feel the sting of writing a big check during a month when you can’t afford to, as long as you discipline yourself not to spend the money you’re setting aside!  There are all kinds of strategies for making membership money magic happen.  Whether your financial situation is simple or complex, it’s possible that you can’t afford not to be a member of a professional organization.


With appreciation for the important work you do,

Megan August 2011

About the Image on This Page

This is a thumbnail of Art Arcane, posted to The Public Domain website by Mitch Featherston in 2010. Click here for more information.