Each September, my column acknowledges the beginning of another academic year by focusing on the important role that American Counseling Association members play in the education and guidance of students in elementary, middle and secondary schools, as well as at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Clearly, those of you who work with students have a critically important role, especially considering all that children and young adults are facing. Just as important are our members who work to train, develop and prepare those in counselor education programs.
Here’s the twist to this month’s column. Rather than offer a passing “good luck” to graduate counseling students, I am going to take all 650 words that Counseling Today editor Jonathan Rollins gives me and focus specifically on those currently enrolled in counselor education programs.
I want you to know how important your role is to the profession and its future. But you also need to realize how critical you are to the profession right now. You really are the lifeblood of the magnificent profession of counseling. Your commitment and the time you dedicate to learning your craft is admirable. Whether you head into research, private practice, community agency work, working with young children or any of the other avenues open to you upon graduation (including those areas of counseling that haven’t even been defined as yet), you will be performing some incredibly important work.
For some of you, the work you face in graduate school seems challenging (it is) and the hours long (correct). You may even question whether the whole experience will be worth it (it will be). What I can tell you is that your professors, your fellow graduate students and others who make up your “network” are all part of the experience that will contribute to your becoming the best possible professional counselor — so maximize these relationships.
And don’t forget about one other component of your network. As an ACA member, you have some pretty incredible resources at your disposal. Plus, you continue to receive these benefits at a fraction of what they actually cost and will continue to pay student rates during your first year as a “new professional,” so use these benefits as much as you can! This column is not meant to be an “infomercial” or “advertorial” for all the great stuff that membership in ACA brings so much as it is to let you know that the staff and I are here to help you meet your career goals.
Also be aware that you help to keep your professors and supervisors on their toes. While they may have walked a path similar to yours several years ago, finding out what makes you “tick” is something that keeps them interested and engaged in the evolution of the profession. In some ways, the teaching that goes on is a two-way street.
I realize that as graduate students, your resources are limited. We at ACA try to take this into account when we look at the development of products, services and professional resources. The ACA leadership and staff are once again dedicating themselves this year to finding ways to make your participation and engagement with ACA affordable and valuable to you.
If at all possible, I encourage you and your colleagues to join us at the ACA Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., next March. With more than 500 Education Sessions on dozens of topics, along with more than 100 exhibit booths, the ACA Bookstore and career placement services on-site, it would be a shame not to have you join us! For more information on this premier event, cosponsored by the North Carolina Counseling Association, go to www.counseling.org/conference.
As always, I hope you will contact me with any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have. In fact, with the launch of the “new” Counseling Today, it is even more critical that I hear from you. Please contact me via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.
Thanks and be well.