In last month’s column, I said that although our official recognition of ACA’s 60th anniversary was coming to a close, the celebration would continue. This celebration includes how we will be honoring you, our members. You are the ones, along with those who came before you, who have made ACA the world’s largest organization exclusively dedicated to the many diverse facets of professional counseling. We also want to add to our ACA family by bringing to the table graduate students and other professional counselors, academics and researchers who have yet to add “ACA Member” to their résumés.
For months, I have been alluding to new products and services that the staff and I have been working on to benefit you, our members. In the latter half of January, I would call your attention to the new ACA website at counseling.org, which I can assure you is much more than “just another pretty website.” The new functionality and resources you will be able to access truly take us to a whole different dimension in terms of online capabilities.
Another example of a new product is the ACA webinar series. For those who were part of our inaugural year of providing this service, I want to thank you for helping us go far beyond our expectations. We had hoped for 50-75 attendees at each of these online workshops. You and your colleagues responded with 100, 300, even 700 participants at various sessions!
We all know that ACA is more than just workshops and websites, however. Members have a connection with ACA for other reasons as well.
Through the years, I have heard ACA described in many ways. Some remember the “old” ACA and how it brought together four unique counseling organizations to form a better, stronger, more unified entity that would advocate on behalf of the profession. Others have expressed appreciation for our ability to find a way to include professional liability insurance for our master’s-level student members at no additional cost to the students. Some have acknowledged our efforts to build a strong grass-roots movement that can educate public policymakers about professional counselors. And, of course, there are those who think ACA isn’t doing enough for the profession, including some who see us as nothing more than a “slick marketing organization.”
If nothing else, I am always assured that our members are willing to voice their thoughts, appreciation and criticism of ACA. I can’t say that I always agree with each opinion, but this open dialogue lets me know that members feel this really is their organization. During my almost 25 years with ACA, I have tried to practice with the mindset that this has never been “my” organization. Rather, I serve as a steward of the professional aspirations and interests of our members. My job — and that of our very talented and committed staff — is to fulfill the professional needs of those who are ACA members, leaders and volunteers.
I encourage you to maximize your “ACA experience” as a volunteer, a leader or a participant in some type of ACA activity. I believe it is our members’ diversity of opinion and thought that has helped us to build a better, stronger and more vibrant organization.
Looking forward, what can you expect to read in this column over the next several months? I hope to go into more depth about those who have made an impact on the profession and ACA. However, I also want to share stories about those who are “up and coming” — individuals who are likely to be written about several years from now by some future ACA executive director because they have had an impact on the profession.