Dear Counseling Colleagues,
As I write this final Counseling Today presidential column, I’ve reflected on the gifts and the challenges our profession has been presented in the past year. Each of us could list a few challenges, either from a personal or a professional vantage point. Included are challenges to the ACA Code of Ethics and to basic human rights — the kinds of challenges that at times can cause negativity or fear in many members of our profession.
Our strength, however, is indicated by the work that counselors do every day in agencies, schools, private offices and universities, and as supervisors. The positivity and hope with which counselors approach sometimes seemingly hopeless situations are the very characteristics that can assist in reframing these situations in more courageous and life-giving ways. That means counselors must continue to advocate — for the profession, for their communities and for one another.
Every visit I have made this past year to speak, to work with various ACA branches and divisions, and to engage with participants at conferences was meaningful for me. There was always energy in the room, a sea of interested and dedicated faces from which to draw strength and maintain resolve. That same resolve is what allows counselors to do their best, every day. Constituents who depend on counselors, advisers, professors and supervisors hold counseling professionals in the highest regard. We can also do that for ourselves as we celebrate this wonderful profession.
The time-honored sharing of gratitude for those who have worked hard, and with good hearts, for the greater good of the counseling profession is appropriate here. I’d like to thank a few of the individuals who have assisted in my presidential initiatives to incorporate a deeper look into diversity and inclusion for our profession. I’ll begin with the six co-chairs of the Targeted Task Group on the LGBTQ Life Span Development Mental Health Initiative: Monica Osburn, Robtrice Brawner, Jane Rheineck, Nicole Pulliam, Larry Burlew and Sandra Lopez-Baez. These individuals have greatly helped to move forward the Illuminate symposium that will take place June 8-10 and the training guide for counseling the LGBTQ adult community.
The Targeted Task Group on Diversity and Inclusion in ACA Leadership, co-chaired by Mary Hermann and Stephanie Dailey, has done an excellent job of adding to the knowledge and progress on the issue of open leadership and mentoring diverse new professionals.
The Presidential Advisory Panel on the Roles and Opportunities for School Counselor Educators, composed of Brandie Oliver, Stephanie Eberts, Daniel Cinotti and Denise Lenares-Solomon, added a great deal to the effort around including more options from ACA for school counselor educators and school counselors.
All of the individuals named from these various groups took a leap of faith, made a decision to help and, in their own inimitable way, celebrated the fortitude of this profession through insight, courage and saying “yes” when asked.
I’d also like to thank ACA Immediate Past President Thelma Duffey for her continued service to the profession.
On July 1, Gerard Lawson becomes your next ACA president and the “face” of the counseling profession. I have every confidence that Gerard will lead us well and do his best to represent ACA and our profession.
The ACA staff works harder than most and better than any group I know. They operate as a close and well-directed team, made up of individuals with whom I have worked closely and for whom I offer unlimited gratitude.
Your very talented ACA executive director, Richard Yep, is the ultimate leader and manager, and the work and caring of the staff is reflective of his leadership.
It has been the honor of my professional life to serve you this year. It has also been one of the most humbling times in my life. I will always be grateful for the opportunity. I wish you positivity, hope and courage.