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Paul Hard receives counseling award for organizing LGBTQ pandemic workshop

Paul Hard holding a laptop

Auburn University at Montgomery Associate Professor of Counselor Education Paul Hard has received the Alabama Counseling Association (ALCA) Program Award.

Hard, who also serves as chair of the College of Education’s Department of Counselor, Leadership and Special Education, was honored with the award for organizing the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama’s (ALGBTICAL)  first virtual summer workshop, “Still Family Across the Distance: LGBTQ Community in the Current Pandemic.”

As part of the workshop, Hard presented information about working with LGBTQ clients regarding disaster intervention.

“I was delighted to receive this award under my professional division,” said Hard, who is president of ALGBTICAL. “The pandemic workshop offered by ALGBTICAL was a highly timely and significant contribution to the counseling field. Being able to provide this training during such trying times is an honor.”

The Alabama Counseling Association Program Award is given annually to recognize an ALCA chapter, division or affiliate that provides an outstanding, “unique and/or superior program(s) for its members.” ALCA presents the award to the chapter, division or affiliate president. 

Hard said his group’s workshop was originally envisioned to address the needs for community and support of LGBTQ clients in the isolation of the pandemic, as well as addressing the traumatic echoes of the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s within the community. However, due to the more recent unfolding spectacle of violence against the black community, the workshop’s subject was broadened to encompass the impact of racial injustice, violence, and social justice, he said.

“Despite the stress of our current times, relatively few workshops have been offered through Alabama Counseling Association divisions that are particular to the pandemic and to the recent racial violence and unrest,” he said.

ALGBTICAL’s summer workshop featured internationally known speakers, including Physician Nick Van Wagoner, a specialist in infectious diseases who presented on the historic impact of both AIDS and the current pandemic on the LGBTQ community.

Workshop attendees included counseling professionals from Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Georgia and California, as well as graduate and post-graduate students to encourage professional involvement and growth.

“This virtual program was offered to counselors at the height of both the COVID pandemic and also the fight for racial justice during the past year,” Hard said. “The pandemic has particular resonance with the LGBT community in light of the historic AIDS epidemic. Likewise, the fight for social justice has a long history with the community. Offering this training to provide tools for counselors and opening insights was tremendously important. “

About Paul Hard

Paul F. Hard, chair of the Department of Department of Counselor, Leadership and Special Education and associate professor of counselor education, concentrations are in clinical mental health and marriage and family counseling. He has over 13 years of agency counseling and private practice experience. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), and an LPC Supervisor. His research interests are in the areas of counselor/professional impairment and wellness, grieving in pre/post-natal loss, professional credentialing and advocacy, sexual minority issues in counseling, and ministerial termination. He is the faculty advisor for the AUM chapter of Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Honor Society and the AUM Gay Straight Alliance, a member of the ALGBTICAL board, Past Treasurer for the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB), a former board member of the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC), a Past-Chair of the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Southern Region, and a Past-President of the Alabama Counseling Association (ALCA).

In late 2017, Hard established the David Fancher Hard Graduate Counseling Scholarship (in memory of his late husband) with the AUM Office of Advancement. Hard is faculty adviser to the AUM Spectrum, the student LGBTQ Advocacy Group, as well as Chi Sigma Iota and the Counseling Honor Society. He is chair of the Alabama Hate Crimes Vigil, and a former plaintiff in Alabama’s Marriage Equality struggle.

Hard has received numerous awards, including AUM’s 2018 Alumni Faculty Service Award, the university’s inaugural Excellence in Diversity Award in 2015, and the 2012 Faculty of the Year honor. He is also the recipient of the Jean H. Cecil Distinguished Counselor Educator Award, the American Association of State Counseling Boards Service Award, the ALCA Distinguished Professional Service Award, the ACA Large Branch Award for Best Membership Service, and twice awarded the ALCA President’s Award.

Hard holds advanced degrees in theology and has 25 years of ecclesiastical experience as an ordained minister.

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