As I made my final plans for traveling to Detroit for the 2007 American Counseling Association Annual Convention & Exposition, March 21-25, I began to reflect on how meaningful the convention has been for me and how much I have developed as a professional by attending over the years.
There are the obvious benefits, such as the education sessions, which have vastly expanded my knowledge and opened my eyes to new ways of approaching a difficult situation or solving a problem. Then there are the less obvious and sometimes unexpected outcomes. I have developed friendships, for example, that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and over the years, I have developed a network of colleagues who are now a big part of my life.
Through my work on committees and now the Governing Council, I have learned how to consider all points of view and to achieve a balance so that the decisions made by the leadership are good for the entire profession. The ACA Convention is the best place to really hear what is on the minds of members. If you don’t attend, your voice may not be heard in quite the same way.
I always return home from the ACA Convention & Exposition renewed and full of energy. Although it can be an exhausting few days, the experience is so enriching that I am more motivated and more satisfied than ever that I chose this profession.
The “cross-pollination” that occurs at the convention is something that I truly treasure. Although my background is school counseling and administration, I love it when I find myself sitting next to a career counselor or a counselor educator or a couples counselor. It is truly amazing how our profession overlaps and how we can learn from each other. It is apparent to me that the work setting is of less significance than the opportunities to broaden my thinking. The connection we all share is our commitment to helping people throughout the life span. And that life span is on full display at the convention because of the breadth and depth of the programs selected. The ACA Convention & Exposition is a big tent, and we are all in it together. Yet we can still find our own niche within that tent!
In Detroit, I look forward to hearing the message that keynoter Linda Ellerbee has to convey. I’m also excited about interacting with colleagues from around the world and seeing the products and services on display at the exposition. I also look forward to hearing from you, finding out what concerns and daily challenges you have. Much discussion recently has centered on counseling salaries and what we might need to do as a profession to address this issue. Come to Detroit so that we can hear from you and develop an effective action plan that will lead to improvements at the local level as well as the state and federal levels. We need to tackle many issues as a profession, and the convention is an ideal place to learn about what is happening now and what we need to focus on in the future.
If you haven’t yet registered, I urge you to do so today. In fact, register by Feb. 15 and take advantage of the Advance rates! If you have never attended an ACA Convention, this is the best time to do so. You will find that we love our “first-timers.” A special First-Timers Orientation and Mentoring Luncheon is a must stop — you will find out how you can get the most out of your convention experience. Other attendees will notice your first-timer ribbon and be happy to help you become immersed in this grand gathering of thousands of counseling professionals from around the world.
If you are a student, this is the best place to explore jobs, network and mingle with some of the most well-known names in counseling. And a special Graduate Student Lounge will be your very own gathering place in Detroit!
Beginning on page 27 of this issue of Counseling Today, you will see a four-page convention mini-guide with more details and updates. You also may want to visit the convention website at www.counseling.org/convention.
The ACA Convention & Exposition is truly the epicenter of the counseling profession for one week in March. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I look forward to seeing you there!