The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” resonates for me when I think about the work of professional counselors. This is also true in terms of the preparation and continuing professional development that counselors undertake, first as graduate students, and then as they move into full-time service.
As you read through this issue of Counseling Today, you will again be reminded of the benefits of taking action prior to the onset of crisis — for example, engaging in holistic counseling to decrease the risk of encountering devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s (see “Untapped potential” on page 1). You will also see an article on page 1 (“Proactive protection pointers”) about how counselors can best avoid legal challenges to the good work that you do.
You will read about many other ways to improve your professional (and perhaps personal) life as a counselor in the various columns, articles and, yes, even advertisements that appear in our newspaper. While we sometimes also report on past events so we can learn about “what went wrong,” it is clear to me the articles that help prepare professional counselors the most are those that provide resources, information, tips and advice on how to maximize the important services that you provide to so many people each and every day.
Later this month, nearly 3,000 professional counselors, counselor educators, graduate students, researchers and related human service providers will gather for the American Counseling Association’s Annual Conference in Honolulu. We have already received registrations from several Asian nations, and the list of those coming from other countries outside of the Pacific Rim ensures that this will be an event that provides a practical, hands-on experience as well as numerous opportunities to network with colleagues from around the world. If you are attending the Annual Conference, I look forward to seeing you there. If you had not planned on going, we hope you might change your mind and join us for this major gathering that features more than 450 Education Sessions and events. For more information, including what the conference has to offer, go to www.counseling.org/conference.
“Prevention” is a word used often in the helping professions, and it seems to me that professional counselors are the perfect service providers in how that action is put into practice. There are countless examples of how professional counselors advocate for both their clients and the profession.
One specific example of prevention is seen through the action of advocacy. Last month, more than 50 counselors, counselor educators and graduate students met during ACA’s Legislative Institute in Washington, D.C. During the three-plus days of training and education, the group learned about public policy issues impacting the counseling profession. As the culmination of the Institute, the entire delegation went to Capitol Hill to meet with U.S. senators, U.S. representatives and their policy staffs to advocate for programs that impact the clients and students served by professional counselors. In other words, by helping public policy officials to better understand the needs of their constituents, serious problems can be prevented (there’s that word again) in the future.
Over the next few years, ACA will undoubtedly look at itself in terms of how best to provide services, benefits and resources to its members. This has been a 55-year evolutionary process, and I cannot see it stopping anytime soon. When we look at change, it is in the hope that we are providing what members and other helping professionals need so they can best advocate for and help their clients and students. We want to practice “prevention” in terms of providing what you need now rather than looking back at what we should have done only after a crisis hits.
I hope that last sentence makes sense to you. I hope you also know that it means we need to hear from you about what you think the most important resources are that ACA can provide. I encourage you to let me know your thoughts.
One “sneak peek” I can share has to do with the publication you are currently reading. Counseling Today is circulated to more than 45,000 members, subscribers and institutions every month. When we look at change to meet the needs of the counseling profession, it is not done lightly. And over the next few months, we will be working on the biggest change in the history of our publication. In July, you will see a drastically revamped Counseling Today. The modifications you will see and touch have been born out of the need to “change with the times” and to respond proactively to the evolution of the counseling profession. So stay tuned!
I want you to know how much your work is valued — this is something that I want you to hear. And I also want you to know that ACA will continue to do what it can to provide resources, information and services, not only to help you as you deal with various crises, but also with ways in which prevention can be part and parcel of the wonderful services you provide.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or suggestions by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 800.347.6647 ext. 231.
Thanks and be well.