I think many of us would say that 2017 has been quite a year, from politics and public policy to foreign relations, natural and human-caused disasters, health care and social issues. In fact, I would venture to guess that a number of people would say we have witnessed more anger, anxiety, stress and conflict over the past 12 months than in previous years.
There is no one person, nor any one incident, that can be blamed for all that has happened. There seems to have been a convergence of a number of events, issues and people that have led to various groups feeling uneasiness and concern.
I believe this is one of the best times for society to benefit from the work of professional counselors as you provide help to your clients, students and communities. Regardless of your work setting, the important work you do is critical to helping people navigate these difficult times. I am thankful for your work and the effort you make each and every day.
As we close out the calendar year, the staff and I wish to express our gratitude to the members and leaders of the American Counseling Association and our divisions, regions, branches, committees and task forces. Despite all you have to do in your jobs that pay the bills, many of you still carve out time to serve as volunteers to make the counseling profession better. Meanwhile, those of you who continue your membership in ACA are demonstrating your commitment to the profession you hold so dear. I am in awe of your engagement and involvement.
My hope for 2018 is that we find lasting peace in the world. That may sound like a dream, but I believe that having lofty goals is a good thing. I’m always curious about what you, our valued members, hold as goals for the new year. I’m not referring to resolutions about going to the gym, cleaning out the garage or organizing your files. Rather, I want to know what you, as professional counselors, consider lofty goals that we can collectively try to attain. I encourage you to let me know.
I can tell you that the staff and I have plans in the first part of 2018 to deliver even more resources and professional development opportunities for you. We have listened to your suggestions, gathered as a team and made every attempt at meeting your professional needs. We will also continue our advocacy for the needs of the profession at the national and state levels of public policy. We also hope to ensure that your voice is heard on the issues that affect your clients and students.
However, much of what we may want as a collective body will need to be leveraged by all of us taking part in a number of efforts. For example, we must help public policymakers understand the unique skills of professional counselors in areas such as combating opioid abuse and having a more focused role in school settings. We must help them grasp the importance of including professional counselors in Medicare services and the value of licensure portability in areas experiencing shortages of mental health service providers.
We will need your assistance in this work. I hope that a large number of you (whether you are new to the profession or are one of our more senior members) will participate in the various calls to action to which you may be alerted in the coming year.
As we wrap up the calendar year, your ACA staff and I wish you a peaceful, relaxing and stress-free holiday season.
As always, I look forward to receiving your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to contact me by phone at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep.