As autumn marches toward winter here in the United States, you can already feel the change in the air in some parts of our country. The beginning of November also signals change at the local, state and national levels of government. Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, thousands of individuals running for office or seeking re-election will begin new terms during the next few months.
The American Counseling Association and its members must not sit idle. Now is the time to provide education and information to public policy officials, elected or appointed, who might have an impact on the counseling profession and those whom you serve. Now is the time — in fact, now is our time — to ensure that whoever controls legislative and regulatory bodies will know of the good work that all of you do for millions of individuals, couples and families each and every day.
The journey to spread the word really does begin with the first step. Ask yourself and your colleagues what message and information needs to be conveyed, and then find out with whom you need to communicate. Professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students are the very best advocates for the profession. In fact, that is why ACA now boasts a staff that includes eight professional counselors at the master’s and doctoral levels. I know how important it is to have professional counselors at the table when it comes to advocating for the profession.
If you need help in figuring this all out, we are here for you! Contact the very talented ACA Public Policy and Legislation staff. They will assist you as you begin the journey of informing elected and appointed public policy officials about our issues and what needs to be done for your clients and students.
One letter, one email, one phone call, one town hall meeting or one meeting that helps to inform public policy officials may not seem like much. But before you know it, people who make decisions about what you do, how you will practice, if you will get hired, if you can be reimbursed and how you can be counted on for expert advice really will look to you for guidance and counsel.
I encourage you to visit counseling.org/publicpolicy. Read the articles in Counseling Today about legislative and regulatory issues that have an impact on the profession. Go to the ACA YouTube channel to hear our public policy broadcasts. We really try to communicate in a way that will reach the most members possible. You can also call the public policy staff at 800.347.6647 ext. 354 if you prefer.
Participating in the public policy arena, especially with such critical issues coming before those in decision-making positions, is both timely and critical. Being involved does not take so much time that you are unable to do your “real job.” In fact, an hour here or there is all that it might require. The objective is to get on the radar of those who make decisions about your ability to practice, while learning how you can be the best advocate for your clients and students.
Today, I am asking you to join me in an effort to “Be One for All.” Help yourself and the profession in general by being ONE counselor who, when combined with the others in this effort, is really helping ALL who are positively affected by the work that you and your colleagues do.