Foundation Connections

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Application Reviewer Spotlight: Dr. Richard Joseph Behun

Published 4/23/2024


The NBCC Foundation offers scholarships and fellowships to increase counseling services where they are needed most. The Foundation also provides the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE) scholarships and training awards to enhance the careers of credentialed professionals by providing financial assistance to those seeking additional credentials and continuing education opportunities. 

Before being selected, scholarship and fellowship recipients undergo a rigorous review by professional counselors and CCE credential holders. These volunteers commit 8 hours over 2–3 weeks to virtually review an average of 15 applications. This process is integral for providing a fair and unbiased review of applications. 

Long-time application reviewer Dr. Richard Joseph Behun, NCC, ACS, LPC, shared some insight on himself and his time as a volunteer with the Foundation. During his time in a leadership fellowship with Chi Sigma Iota, he learned the importance of giving back to the counseling profession and community. After completing his fellowship, Dr. Behun found “an organization with a mission he truly believed in” with the Foundation. Over the last 10 years, he has pursued this endeavor by reviewing applications for the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP); CCE Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS) training award; and rural, military, and the North Florida Veterans Initiative scholarships. 

What skills and experiences do you bring as a reviewer?

I bring both skills and lived experiences. For my first job as a helping professional, I served as a school counselor in an extremely rural county, opening my eyes to the challenges associated with this community. I grew up in a major city, so learning about and understanding rural America was something very new to me. Prior to my work as a school counselor, I am most proud of my 10 years serving in the U.S. Army, which helped me to understand the veteran culture, the importance of being trauma-informed, the challenges of multiple deployments, and the numerous struggles that a military spouse will face. 

During a review period, how do you balance your duties as a reviewer with other personal and professional commitments?

Fortunately, I have a job that understands the importance of serving the community and profession. I view each review period as my professional commitment. 

How have your personal experiences influenced your professional work?

The most powerful personal experience I have had was the journey to becoming self-aware during my master’s program two decades ago. I can teach others that an increased level of self-awareness is the difference between good and great counselors. 

What are the most common barriers to mental health care in your community?

Over the last decade, working mostly with students representative of Gen Z, I have seen the stigma associated with mental health counseling begin to diminish. I cannot imagine that the stigma will change with generations prior to Gen Z, but I know that it will continue to diminish with future generations and in younger veteran populations. 

What goals do you aspire to achieve in your community?

Growing up in the 80s, I saw firsthand that a community can be very powerful. Growing up in Pittsburgh, our houses were very close together, but the upside of that was that you knew all your neighbors and your neighbors knew you. I struggle to see that sense of community that I feel had such an impact on who I am today. The goals that I aspire to achieve in my community are to be part of something bigger than myself and encourage others to join me on that same journey. 

What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a volunteer reviewer with the Foundation?

I look forward every year, and sometimes several times a year, to reading about who will be the future of counseling and the amazing work many people are doing in their communities. Becoming a volunteer reviewer will allow someone to serve the profession and the community while learning about the wonderful things counselors do for the world. 

What are you most proud of?

Personally, I am most proud that I graduated high school. I'm a product of the Pittsburgh Public School system and my adolescent years were met with significant challenges that I thought I would not overcome. 

Professionally, I am proud of serving as the President of the Pennsylvania Counseling Association and my nomination by Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and my unanimous confirmation by the Pennsylvania State Senate to serve as a member of the State Board for Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors. 

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in people who had significant struggles at any point in their lives, who didn't give up, who didn't let the hard days win, who were resilient, overcame adversity, and then taught those life lessons to others who can benefit and ultimately pay it forward. 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love volunteering at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW); landscaping and growing flowers (especially hydrangeas) in my yard; and spoiling my dog, Shiloh, who will take up as much free time and attention as you can give. 

For more information on how to get engaged with the NBCC Foundation, visit or email to connect with our Volunteer Coordinator. 

Richard Joseph Behun, PhD, NCC, ACS, LPC, is the graduate coordinator for the school counseling program. He is proud to be a veteran of the United States Army. He has served as the 50th president of the Pennsylvania Counseling Association and was recognized by the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association as the counselor educator of the year. In June 2022, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro nominated him as a member of the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors.



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