Counseling Today, From the CEO

Another drink of water

Richard Yep May 14, 2006

Richard Yep

Traditionally, my family and I head down to the Washington Mall each Fourth of July to see the spectacular fireworks display that commemorates our nation’s birthday. We pack into the Metro subway system, angle for a patch of lawn on the Mall so we can view the show and then head back to the suburbs, where we have our own neighborhood fireworks display.

This year, in addition to fireworks, we returned home to what I have euphemistically referred to as “waterworks” — the main water supply pipe into our house had burst. To say I had a “sinking” feeling as I headed down to check on the strange noise in the basement would be both an understatement and probably a bit corny. Nevertheless, the flooding had begun, and it was at least another 90 minutes before the county water authority was able to shut off the main source of water to my home.

My family and I learned a great deal over the next few days as we attempted to stay in our home despite the absence of running water. As many have said, you never know how much you’ll miss something until you no longer have it. Given all that many in this nation experienced in the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, I admit to feeling somewhat guilty when I became frustrated over not being able to get a glass of water from the tap or to take a shower. My “misery” was absolutely nothing compared with the devastation that was brought upon so many people by the hurricanes. Yet, I did emerge from the experience so much more thankful for what I have (in this case, water).

Now to this month’s segue. In many ways, a society without the benefit of professional counseling is like a family without water. While the clear liquid stuff nourishes and replenishes the physical body, counseling and the services offered by professional counselors encourage, support and sustain children, adolescents, couples, families and individuals by providing what they need to face the challenges of life.

Professional counselors, through the work all of you do in the areas of education, community and private practice, career development, rehabilitation and elsewhere, are critical components to the improvement of society. Just as water is not an ancillary substance that people can choose to disregard, I say the same is true of the services provided by today’s professional counselors. Everyone can benefit from the advice, counsel, advocacy and support that you — professional counselors — are trained to provide.

How can we make professional counseling services as essential in many areas of life as water is to the physical health of all living things? OK, I’ll admit that’s a pretty tall order, but suffice it to say that if we don’t keep our eyes on that particular prize, countless numbers of children, adolescents and adults will not have complete, satisfying and meaningful life experiences. As professional counselors, you are specially trained to help individuals overcome the barriers to such obstacles.

I hope you know that the American Counseling Association wants to support you in whatever ways it can as you provide services that are so critical to so many. As water is to physical well-being, the services provided by professional counselors can be an “elixir” that ensures positive mental health and well-being. ACA will continue to work toward providing the best resources, services and programs as you begin and continue along your professional career path. In addition, as you begin to transition from full-time work to less than full time, we want to provide opportunities for you as well. Just consider us your “professional drink of water”!

As always, I hope you will contact me with any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have. Please contact me via e-mail at ryep@counseling.org or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.

Thanks and be well.