State Association taps UTEP Counseling Professor as Leader

Paul Carrola, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator for The University of Texas at El Paso’s Mental Health Counseling program, will become the first president-elect of the Texas Association of Counselor Education and Supervision (TACES) from UTEP when his position becomes official July 1, 2020.

Carrola, a native of San Antonio who has taught at UTEP since 2013, will serve a one-year term as president-elect.

It is the start of a three-year commitment that also will include 12-month periods as president and past president of the organization, which is the second largest division of the Texas Counseling Association (TCA). TACES, which has about 500 members, works to enhance the practice of professional counseling through the promotion of effective counselor education, supervision and leadership.

The UTEP professor has served the organization as a senator since 2017. He said this assignment will be good for him, the University and the community because it will bring positive recognition from the rest of the state.

Among his main duties as president-elect will be to organize and host the group’s annual conference in February 2021 at a location to be determined. He already has some ideas on how he plans to implement programs, workshops and advocacy efforts to enhance counseling throughout the state during his time as a TACES leader.

“As president, I will provide an agenda and vision for the organization that can influence mental health services in the state through policy and legislative advocacy,” he said. He wants to connect resources and training for mental health services in the state and to involve geographically isolated communities such as El Paso in the legislative advocacy process as it relates to mental health services. “I think it is important to have someone from El Paso as president since we are often overlooked by the rest of the state.”

Michael Moyer, Ph.D., professor and associate department chair of counseling at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and TCA president, said he has known Carrola for about a decade and believes that the UTEP professor’s genuine interest in others and his ability to bring people and ideas together will make him a successful TACES leader.

Moyer recalled Carrola as a doctoral student at The University of Texas at San Antonio who stood out because of his diligence and interest in collaborations with faculty for research and service activities.

“(Carrola) has a unique ability to connect with others,” Moyer said. “His incredible work ethic and demeanor allow him to build trusting relationships, which are vital for someone in a leadership role.”

Richard Salcido, executive director of Family Service of El Paso, also is excited about Carrola’s appointment because it will give mental health representatives from the Paso del Norte region more of a voice in Austin.

“This is critical,” said Salcido, who earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1978 and a Master of Education degree eight years later, both from UTEP. “Paul is in the know of what is going on at the state level regarding proposed regulations that affect the mental health profession. He’ll make a great president for TACES.”

Salcido praised the UTEP professor for his efforts to connect the University and his department to the community, and said he will use the same methods to network with TACES members around the state to seek out collaborations for the greater good.

He recalled how Carrola did the same thing at the campus and community levels when he first arrived at UTEP. First, he began to make connections with other faculty in the departments of social work and psychology to create greater synergy. He then began to familiarize himself with the borderland’s mental health service agencies that were or could become internship sites for UTEP students. Since Carrola’s arrival, UTEP places about 10 student interns at Family Service of El Paso.

Karen I. Barraza, a third-year graduate student who expects to earn her Master of Science degree in mental health counseling this summer, lauded Carrola as a passionate educator who motivates his students to be active in their profession.

The El Paso native and first-generation college student said she has conducted research with Carrola, her adviser since 2017, and presented alongside him at this year’s TACES conference.

“Dr. Carrola is a leader inside and outside the classroom,” said Barraza, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UTEP in 2014. “He is knowledgeable about current issues relating to mental health in our community and has built relationships throughout his career to further develop educational programs for students who want to become licensed professional counselors in Texas.”

Author: Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications