Monthly Archives: June 2008

Dressing for success: Some rules never change

Amy Reece Connelly June 2, 2008

Is there anyone who doesn’t face each new season by opening the closet door and trying to determine what they have to wear for the impending changing weather? Similarly, is there anyone who has never stressed out — even a little bit — about what they’re going to wear? Take a couple of minutes to assess your current wardrobe. At this very moment, do you have in your closet an outfit that would be appropriate for:

  • A job interview
  • Lunch or dinner with a business associate
  • A funeral
  • A cocktail party
  • A sports outing (either as a participant or a spectator) with colleagues

Stacy and Clinton, Trinny and Susannah, and Mr. Blackwell all have their opinions about what will get you on the best-dressed list. Thanks to cable television, there are entire networks — with accompanying websites — that provide hourly input on the latest trends in Paris, Milan, New York and L.A. In this era of information overload, often-conflicting fashion advice can be overwhelming and leave those who are seeking direction feeling confused instead.

Dressing for success is less about fashion and more about dressing appropriately for your role and setting. In many settings, those in positions of authority came of age when the “old rules” regarding appropriate business attire were still in place. Many of those in charge are still scratching their heads and wondering how “business attire” became “business casual.” And this was before the “business” element was abandoned almost entirely and the “casual” side evolved into outfits that wouldn’t have been worn outside the comfort of the home in previous generations. 

Thankfully, because of today’s more relaxed rules, dressing for success no longer means wearing a navy blue uniform with a starched white shirt and a silk tie or bow at the neck. Some rules still exist, however, and are worthy of consideration by up-and-coming professionals. 

Dress for the position to which you aspire. John Molloy, who is often credited with coining the phrase “dress for success,” advised his followers to pattern their wardrobes after those worn by supervisors two or more levels up. Although his best-selling publication is no longer in the mainstream, it’s still good advice. Professional appearance invites professional treatment. 

Dress for your audience. It is a given that counselors need to relate to their clients on many levels. So it follows that it would be insensitive to dress in $1,000 suits for sessions if your clients are struggling to hover above the poverty line. But neither does that mean you should wear torn jeans, rocker T-shirts and flip-flops to relate to your teenage clientele. Projecting a subtle air of authority through your appearance can enhance the success you achieve with clients because it reinforces your credibility.

Dress the body you have now, not the one you had in high school. Shapes and sizes change over time (as do jacket cut, tie width, skirt length and pant rise). If you are legitimately wearing the same size you did when you walked across the stage in your cap and gown, congratulations. But the rest of us are better off wearing clothing that genuinely fits. If you fall into that latter category, take comfort in knowing that you’ll be more comfortable, and you’ll look better too.

Avoid the ‘toos.’ If it’s “too” anything, adjust. Too much color or pattern, too many accessories, too tight, too short or too much cleavage (some would say any visible cleavage is too much) can distract from an otherwise professional ensemble. And unless your job is modeling for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, too much skin — a bare midriff, for example — is a no-no in the workplace.

Invest in the classics and update with trendier pieces. Some clothing, such as wool trousers, blazers and A-line skirts in neutral colors (black, gray, tan or navy), withstands the test of time. The navy suit and the little black dress remain reliable wardrobe workhorses. High-quality pieces such as these that will endure for several seasons are at the center of a flexible, professional wardrobe. Buy seasonal accents to complete your look. 

A little attention to detail goes a long way. You don’t have to spend a small fortune to present a professional appearance. Maintaining a neat hairstyle, keeping nails groomed and making certain your clothing is in good repair will provide the polish expected of professionals.

Finally, if you want to know whether your casual ensemble is too casual for the office, try adding a navy blazer. If it doesn’t look out of place, you’re probably OK.

Member Spotlight

Angela Kennedy

As part of an occasional series, Counseling Today features a brief look at an American Counseling Association member or division leader

NECA President-Elect Robert Chope

  • Joined ACA in 1974
  • President-elect of the National Employment Counseling Association
  • Holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota
  • Published author of Dancing Naked:
  • Breaking Through the Emotional
  • Limits That Keep You From the Job You Want
  • Chair of the San Francisco State University Department of Counseling
  • Cofounder and private practitioner with the Career and Personal Development Institute in San Francisco, one of the oldest career counseling practices in the United States.

Counseling Today: What inspired you to get into the counseling profession?

Robert Chope: It’s an interesting story. I graduated from Harvard in 1967 — during the Vietnam era — and I wanted to get a master’s degree in counseling at Harvard, in part because I liked human development, and I also like working with people. I had been heavily influenced by both B.F. Skinner and Erik Erikson. Erikson thought counseling would be terrific, and Skinner thought it would be a waste of my time. We were only given one year of graduate school deferments, so what I did was to move to California and worked at a juvenile hall to give four years of alternate service to the country, rather than going to war. Meantime, I got my master’s degree in counseling at San Francisco State, where I’m now a department chair of that same department.

So it was two things. My interest in helping people, but there was also the — what John Krumboltz would like to say — the happenstance. There was a nationwide crisis. People had to make alternate plans, so I did, and working with those kids inspired me to continue doing research, practicing and then getting the Ph.D.

CT: What stirred your interest in career counseling?

RC: Working with delinquent kids. The one place that they needed the most help was in developing job skills and future careers. If there is one thing we continue to fail at it’s working with the most disenfranchised people and trying to engage them in real change. For example, in San Quentin, which isn’t far from here, there are about 40 percent of (inmates) who have never worked or ever looked for a job. So with that in mind, I really thought the way you could really change the world was through career and employment counseling. It was because of that that I pursued my Ph.D. in career counseling.

CT: You recently were voted president-elect of the National Employment Counseling Association. Why is your involvement as a NECA leader valuable to you?

RC: I believe that the most significant issues in people’s lives have to do with work and work-related involvement and relationships.

CT: What issues that NECA focuses on are most important to you?

RC: I believe that NECA will allow me to pursue a more aggressive political positioning for the organization and ACA. I hope to address issues concerning Iraqi war veterans and employment, immigrants — legal and illegal — and employment, the homeless, transgender issues in office settings, retirement and retraining and the effect of those concerns on the (baby) boomers.

CT: What are you working on at the moment?

RC: Most recently, I’m spending a lot of time working on social justice issues. I think that social justice will be brought about with greater opportunities in employment.  One of the things I want to address is the new social justice issues in employment that I think are so important — one thing being transgender issues in employment.

CT: What are some other important social justice issues in employment?

RC: The prison example is the best one. You have a lot of people who are completely disenfranchised and have no sense of how to develop their careers. They are placed back on the street with no job skills, and they have a very hard time rehabilitating themselves.

Another current example is what are you going to do with the number of returning veterans who are disabled? An overwhelming amount of money is going to be spent on disabled vets, and I certainly hope a large portion of that will be devoted to retraining and reinvigorating people for new careers, because a lot of people who were injured are not going to be able to engage in their previous careers.

Another is the homeless population. Where have we failed them? Why don’t we put money in the kinds of programs that will really help the homeless?

CT: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment in your own career?

RC: I think it’s influencing as many students as I have over the years. I started the career counseling program at San Francisco State in 1980, and we have taken in roughly 20 people a year, so that is 540 students who have gone through the program. I would say most of them are practicing successfully all over the state. The richest experience I’ve had has been teaching students. I’m enjoying being department chair now because I can influence what we do and what we teach in different ways than what I did as a faculty member.

CT: What advice do you have for the upcoming generation of career counselors?

RC: New opportunities are in front of you every day. You can read the paper and find new entrepreneurial opportunities (in career counseling), and it will continue to be rich for many years to come. The career counseling field isn’t as competitive as the psychotherapy field, so people can get into it and do very creative activities and make a pretty decent living.

We should not forget

Richard Yep

Richard Yep

Recently, American Counseling Association Chief Professional Officer David Kaplan and I had the opportunity to present a workshop to a group of counselors, graduate students and other community mental health professionals who live and work in the New Orleans area. While we went to share our thoughts on how mental health professionals face adversity, we ended up doing much more listening to the stories of those who so desired to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and then found that they had become the story.

As the workshop concluded, some of those in the audience encouraged us to “tell their story” to those outside the New Orleans area. While I could never do justice to all that these incredible professionals have faced, are facing and will continue to face, I will at least attempt to convey the message.

For so many years, when I thought of New Orleans, I conjured up images of jazz, great food, spontaneous partying and a community that exemplifies joie de vivre — a hearty enjoyment of life. And then, all hell broke loose.

After watching countless hours of television news about the horrific happenings both during and after Hurricane Katrina, many of us thought back to what we remembered about New Orleans. But I think many people outside of New Orleans, especially those of us who attend meetings centered around the French Quarter or the business district, have allowed time to dilute our initial feelings of concern. Most of us no longer linger on the question, “How in the world is this city ever going to rebuild?”

Even now, we go to a certain part of New Orleans and are convinced that the food is still great, the music beyond compare and the wondrous enjoyment of life has returned. In other words, “All is well once again.” While it would be nice to think that statement is true, it is not.

Traveling a short distance outside of the French Quarter proves that the devastation still exists. On my ride out to the University of New Orleans (UNO), I saw so many empty and hollow shells of houses and the continued use of Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) trailers. The scene left me with the feeling that some parts of the city will likely never return to what they were before the hurricane.

The sobering reality is that so much still needs to be done. Looking around various neighborhoods (or what used to be neighborhoods), one might think that the notion of rebuilding is hopeless or even pointless. However, from that day spent with counselors and graduate students from UNO, what David and I came away with was a sense that there is an incredible resiliency and determination that continues to bubble up through the conversations and recounting of their stories.

All of this gives me hope. Our brothers and sisters who continue to face the fight each and every day in New Orleans and all across the Gulf Coast region deserve our support, our help, our comfort and our encouragement. Many of you contributed to the ACA Foundation’s Counselors Care Fund, which provided immediate grants to those counselors impacted by the hurricanes. Some of you took time from your jobs to volunteer for the American Red Cross or U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration response that ACA helped to coordinate. I know many of you donated your money and your time as well.

The challenge, then, is how we respond now, knowing that those counselors who were directly impacted are still facing many obstacles as they help to rebuild the lives of their clients — and quite honestly, as they try to rebuild their own lives as well. I would hope we will do all that we can. Together our efforts (large or small, of time or money) will continue to let our colleagues along the Gulf Coast know that we will not move on without them!

I was humbled by all I heard during my visit to New Orleans. I am not sure I have told their story so much as tried to remind all of us that more needs to be done. I also acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of professional counselors and other mental health professionals who continue to face the challenges left behind by Hurricane Katrina.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or suggestions by e-mailing ryep@counseling.org or calling 800.347.6647 ext. 231.

Thanks and be well.

Responding to the call

Angela Kennedy

Alise Bartley, a private practitioner in Ohio, and Carol Klose Smith, then a doctoral student at the University of Iowa, met under extraordinary circumstances — both volunteered to be American Red Cross disaster mental health providers in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The two American Counseling Association members were deployed to western Mississippi and became close friends while on the Gulf Coast, working and meeting at night to decompress and debrief with each other during their two-week deployment. They shared their daily struggles, frustrations and inspirations. They even managed to share laughs, despite the despair and destruction they sometimes encountered.

Both Bartley and Smith realized the experience would be life changing. Upon returning home, they decided they would help educate other counselors on the realities — some harsh, some surreal, some heartening — of being a disaster mental health volunteer, including presenting on the topic at the ACA Convention in Detroit.

Think before committing

Many people watching the cable news networks during and immediately after a crisis feel the urge to help, but counselors need to determine carefully whether volunteering to deploy is the right choice for them. Smith and Bartley recommend that counselors consider the following aspects before jumping into a commitment.

Family preparedness/support

  • Will your family be supportive of your decision?
  • Will deploying cause financial strain?
  • Will your employer allow you to take the time off?
  • Can someone else handle your day-to-day family responsibilities (e.g., picking up the children from school and soccer practice)?

Skills

  • Do you possess excellent listening skills and a solid knowledge of mental health issues?
  • Aside from American Red Cross training, do you have other crisis or trauma counseling experience?
  • Do you have an outgoing personality? Can you strike up conversations with strangers?
  • Are you willing to seize the initiative?
  • Do you mind doing work that is not related to mental health counseling (e.g., passing out supplies and water)?

Self-awareness

  • Are you mentally in a positive place where, as a volunteer, you can be the most beneficial to those in need?
  • What are your strengths, limitations, assumptions and prejudices?
  • Are you able to set firm boundaries and recognize the signs of compassion fatigue/secondary trauma?
  • Are you prepared to be out of your “creature comforts” zone (e.g., sleeping in tents, using chemical toilets, working in extreme weather conditions)?

“The reality of the actual work of a mental health volunteer can be jarring,” Bartley says. “In the course of providing services to traumatized individuals, mental health providers are in a position to share the emotional burden of the trauma.”

Smith agrees, saying she sometimes found the experience very difficult, especially as she saw people struggling to meet even their basic needs, such as shelter and food.

Close quarters

Accommodations for volunteers vary greatly depending on the severity and type of disaster, as well as the time of deployment after the disaster. Bartley and Smith were deployed seven weeks after Hurricane Katrina and stayed at the Naval Seabee Base in Gulfport, Miss. More than 1,000 volunteers were housed in four large storage facilities on the instillation. For two weeks, Bartley and Smith slept on cots surrounded by 600 other volunteers. The coed sleeping area was cramped, with beds only 2 to 3 feet apart. Lights were turned off at 10 p.m. and on at 6 a.m.

Still, considering that they were comforting people who had lost everything they owned in some instances, Bartley and Smith found ways to look on the bright side and enjoyed meeting new people. “I had the privilege of sleeping next to a female retired nurse on one side and a male Vietnam veteran on the other,” Bartley says. “The situation was similar to going away to college. People were from all over the country, and no one knew anyone else.”

Large fans muffled the sounds of late night conversations, snoring and individuals tossing and turning, but Bartley says volunteers occasionally awoke to others having nightmares. Having earplugs or an inexpensive Walkman with earbuds may help volunteers get a better night’s sleep.

Outside the barracks were 75 chemical toilets (Port-O-Jons) and trailers rigged with private showers. Most mornings, the two counselors waited for almost an hour to use the shower, but they soon relished those few minutes of privacy and hot water.

So much chaos, so little structure

During Bartley’s first day in the field, her supervisor drove her toward the waterfront and explained their responsibilities. They were to stop when they saw people and identify themselves as volunteers, talk with them and connect them to community resources if necessary or available, offer them supplies and then be on their way. The debris and destruction increased exponentially the closer they got to the water.

On their way to the shoreline, they passed several people. When Bartley pointed this out and asked if they should stop, her colleague simply said, “Not yet.” Bartley became frustrated as they continued to pass by people who obviously needed help. She began to feel overwhelmed as she thought about the amount of loss and pain with which the survivors were dealing. “It was too much,” she says. “Finally, I cried. Later, in retrospect, I realized that it was important that I was first flooded with the destruction so that I would be able to focus on the people in the community and their needs and not respond to my own issues.”

After taking a few minutes to compose herself, Bartley and her partner finally made their first stop of the day. “We saw things we just could not believe,” she says. “The amount of devastation, the minimal living situations and the inequitable distribution of resources were incredible. No mental health training prepared me for this experience. It’s going to be 20 years before you (stop seeing) the scars of what happened. This was a community where there weren’t a lot of resources before the hurricane hit; after, there was just so little. It was so hard. You had to really watch your personal boundaries because you wanted to sell everything you owned to give them money but knew you couldn’t do that.”

The next day Bartley arrived at the field office and was surprised to find out that she was now considered a seasoned worker after only one day. Her supervisor from the day before was leaving, and Bartley would be in charge of orienting the newest volunteer — Smith. Bartley took Smith toward the waterfront and repeated the “flooding” experience she had undergone the day before. Smith had a similar reaction. Then they were off to work.

Reaching out to survivors

“There is research out on critical incident stress debriefing, and they’ve found that it’s actually more traumatizing, so we offered psychological first aid,” Bartley says. According to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, psychological first aid creates and sustains an environment of safety, calmness, connectedness to others, self-efficacy or empowerment and hopefulness (see sidebar, “Psychological first aid).

Smith adds that volunteers should allow individuals to share their stories without structuring or guiding the conversation, allowing them to decide what’s important to talk about. Volunteers should also respect those who do not wish to talk, she says.

Both counselors say it is easy for disaster mental health volunteers to begin feeling discouraged and helpless in the face of so many survivor needs. When that happens, there is little sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. To avoid becoming engulfed in that mind-set, Bartley and Smith suggest that counselors instead focus on helping one person at a time. “If you start looking at the entirety of the situation, you become so overwhelmed,” Bartley says. “You have to look at the smaller system. Your role isn’t to fix the larger issues and concerns; your role is to help individual needs.”

Bartley and Smith spent much of their time passing out cold drinks and supplies such as work gloves, sleeping bags, pillows and duct tape, and then simply listening. The days were long and physically demanding (as well as emotionally demanding), so they recommend that volunteers pack comfortable jeans and T-shirts/sweatshirts and bring a good pair of work boots or other shoes with sturdy soles. Before deploying, research the area’s average weather conditions and pack accordingly, Bartley adds.

Many individuals who have lost everything in a natural disaster feel like they no longer have control over their lives. When meeting with survivors, Bartley tried to help them reestablish some semblance of control — however small — by simply allowing them the power of choice.  “I always tried to make sure there was some variety for people to choose from — as simple as Pepsi or Coke — even if it meant me going to a store and purchasing items with my own money,” she says. “That’s what I chose to do. So many times when someone needs help, we give them what we think they need rather than what they think they need.”

When Bartley arrived in Mississippi in late October, the weather was beginning to cool and people were in need of blankets. She learned that two types of blankets were available in the supplies for volunteers to hand out: warm yet scratchy wool blankets and soft, summer-weight cotton blankets. “Initially, I offered survivors a choice between the two. However, everyone selected the white (cotton) ones,” she recalls. “When the people picked up the white blanket, they would stroke it like a cat. Some even brought it up to their faces and gently rubbed it in on their cheek. There were few things left in the community that were soft and comforting.”

Bartley and Smith acknowledge there is little structure or guidance on how to help those in need after one is deployed. They just took the initiative and did what needed to be done at that moment. For instance, because of numerous clothing drives after the hurricane, Bartley says the shelters couldn’t store all the donations. Enormous piles of clothing were simply left outside at major intersections, on tennis courts or beside car washes. On one occasion, she and her partner for the day dug through the piles searching for sweaters, coats and warm clothing to give to migrant workers and others in need.

Caring for the caregiver

One of the responsibilities of the disaster mental health volunteers is to be on call at the volunteer shelters in the evenings and throughout the night in case of an emergency. “We would work all day in the field on a variety of issues — some uplifting, some difficult,” Smith says. “Then we would go back to the Seabee base and help the other Red Cross volunteers process what they had seen that day and what they were going through.”

The counselor on call would place a bike flag at the end of his or her cot so those volunteers who needed help would know where to go. But even without the flag, many disaster response volunteers sought out Bartley and Smith for support during their stay. To connect with those who were more withdrawn, Bartley and Smith chose to eat each night with someone who was dining alone at the camp. They would first ask permission to sit with the person and then try to build a rapport in hopes that the volunteer might open up and talk about his or her experiences.

“The hours and the tremendous need really made self-care difficult,” Smith says. “The mental health volunteers would try to catch up with each other and debrief when we could.” She says they also learned the importance of disaster mental health workers knowing their limitations and being firm in not trying to exceed them. The volunteers looked to one another for support, Smith says, and also recharged with phone calls home to their families.

“You have to find ways to decompress at night,” Bartley says. “This is a life-changing experience — let it be one for the better.”

Aside from monitoring their own mental health, counselors also need to be vigilant about their physical safety. On one occasion, Bartley was informed that she would be going into a community alone. She was apprehensive initially but decided she was up for the challenge.

“There had been a shooting in Biloxi (Miss.), and I was asked to check on the pastor who had been shot,” she says, adding that the pastor had been helping to set up electricity at a local community center when he was shot in the head during a drive-by. Luckily, the bullet had only grazed him, and all he required was stitches.

“The (American Red Cross) volunteers indicated that there had been an increase in gang activity over the last few weeks trying to gain control over that area in the community,” Bartley says. “As they were telling me this story, I realized that I was the only female volunteer from the Red Cross in the area. I knew I had to get out of there immediately. I called headquarters to say I would be returning and what had happened. Security personnel were unaware of the shooting, so I would need to meet with them when I got back. Once I hung up, I pulled over and began to cry. I had put my life in danger without considering the consequences.” The situation served as a powerful reminder to Bartley that volunteers need to watch out for their own safety and needs before focusing on the needs of others.

Going home

Both counselors agree that leaving the disaster area is a process in and of itself. Volunteers may feel torn between wanting to do more for those remaining in the disaster area and their obligations back home. “That pain of wanting to do more was still strong,” Bartley says. “But I knew it was time to give someone else the opportunity to help and have the same life-changing experience.”

Once back home, the two had very different reactions. Upon returning, Smith didn’t want to talk about her experience, at least not right away. Bartley, on the other hand, wanted to share her experience but felt alone because her family couldn’t truly relate to what she had been through. Her family was happy to see her but seemed even happier that they could finally get back to their normal routine.

“Coming back was difficult for me,” Bartley says. “You’ve seen and done these incredible things. The people at home are glad you’re back and they want to hear about it a little bit, but they also want to move forward, and you are still trying to process everything. I felt very isolated.”

Bartley says her friendship with Smith ultimately helped her deal with the letdown she experienced after returning and inspired her to help others prepare for the challenges of being a disaster mental health volunteer.  “People didn’t understand, and I had this need to reach out and educate people — let them know about the experience and continue helping,” she says. “It’s been part of the healing process for us to take our experiences and share them with others so they can make an informed decision on whether or not they are going to do this. All of us had our heartstrings pulled when we heard about Hurricane Katrina, but do you really have what it takes to be able to go down there in this type of situation?”

Hattitudes of gratitude: Glancing in the leadership mirror

Brian S. Canfield

Organizations are not machines with precision parts. They involve all kinds of people and relationships. People with ideas, potential, insight and vision. People who follow and people who lead.

The American Counseling Association is composed of more than 40,000 members and 60 staff members, and both of these groups perform as leaders on a daily basis. Leadership is not about tenure or title, being on top or out front. By definition, leadership is the process of persuasion — how an individual influences, inspires, motivates or affects the thoughts, feelings and actions of others. In the variety of hats we wear, consciously or not, we influence others to use their potential, call on their determination, embrace change, think strategically and undertake endeavors beyond their comfort zone. Finding meaning implies finding a connection between what we do, who we are and what we consider valuable.

It is not the title of an organization’s events or the presidential theme that gets remembered, but rather the sustained presence of values that brands the organization. As the leadership values become more entrenched, they spread throughout the organization. It is neither the complexity of the changes nor the continuation of conventional standards that matter so much, but rather the innovative contributions that promote growth in the profession and the organization. It is not the number of initiatives that are ultimately appreciated, but the strategies that mobilize effective practices and services, truly meeting the needs of our members and the public we serve.

We are a multitasked, multidisciplined, multicultural and multitalented organization with innumerable accomplishments, products and services. Among the accomplishments:

  • Receiving the Summit Award for our support of the victims of Hurricane Katrina
  • Earning inclusion of licensed professional counselors as mental health providers in the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Being designated an official nongovernmental organization of the United Nations, which gives ACA greater recognition in speaking out on the needs of counseling around the world
  • Recognition of Counseling Today with multiple APEX awards for distinguished news and feature articles

ACA has also participated in several events and given sponsorship support to others in the past year to increase our presence. Among them:

  • The Voice Awards, which raised the awareness level of the stigma faced by those with mental health disorders
  • National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
  • The PBS special Retire Smart, Retire Happy
  • The PTA’s Commitment to America’s Children Gala
  • The Educational Roundtable: Meeting the Needs of Children in Foster Care

The ACA leadership understands the meaning of call and response:

  • Whenever tragedy struck, many ACA members rallied to volunteer their services without hesitation, as demonstrated in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the shootings at Virginia Tech and the tornadoes in Kansas.
  • Collaborative efforts to attain licensure in Nevada and California have been gaining strength.
  • ACA stepped up to the plate to support counselors who were facing various testing issues related to the use of appropriate assessment tools.

From local communities to other continents, the ACA leadership is making a difference:

  • The reinstatement of “Counseling Corner,” ACA’s weekly newspaper column, currently being printed in approximately 250 local newspapers, is another example of our commitment to promoting mental wellness.
  • The Hans Z. Hoxter International Forum Fund was created to increase the participation of international speakers at ACA conferences — a step toward globalization of counseling collaborations.
  • ACA continued as the counseling profession’s designated sponsor of People to People Ambassador Programs, which foster a unique experience of exchanging cultural and professional ideas and information. ACA delegations have traveled to China, Russia and South Africa.

As technology resources expand, ACA has also invested in professional growth and development opportunities for members through online learning programs and establishing a virtual library for the retrieval of VISTAS articles, ERIC digests and ACA archives. Other online services include collaborating with CareerBuilder.com to provide a counselor-specific job filter; current salary data information that matches companies, positions and job profiles of employers and employees across the globe; and the Web Idea Bank, established so the voice of the membership could be heard more readily.

There is no limit to the tireless efforts being launched by ACA to advance the profession of counseling and the organization. The ACA leadership is committed to staying alert to the challenges of the profession. Among the resources introduced to elevate professional experiences are relevant publications, ACA Interest Networks in specialty areas and an increased selection of educational academies at the ACA Conference.

Some ACA leaders work to monitor, dialogue and initiate action to ensure that we are heard on Capitol Hill and prepared to take our issues to elected officials. There is also 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling, a joint initiative with the American Association of State Counseling Boards to address seven areas that impact the future of counseling (see “20/20 delegates start reaching consensus” on p. 1).

Issues of continued focus for ACA include Medicare coverage of licensed professional counselors, independent practice authority for counselors under TRICARE and parity of insurance coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

ACA cares very deeply about what our members value and need. The momentum from our success stories will serve as a legacy for students entering the profession. The leadership of our graduate students is evident as they demonstrate a high level of enthusiasm and commitment. They have increased their presence on ACA committees, their participation in branch and division activities and their involvement in activities during the ACA Conference.

In sharing with so many professionals what the leadership of ACA does, I am very proud to say that we represent the largest group of counseling professionals in the world. Leadership is about the opportunity to serve, conduct, grow, promote, examine, choose, connect, engage, design, build, influence, inspire, reflect, support and celebrate. As I reflect on all these accomplishments of the ACA leadership, I want to humbly express my gratitude at having been allowed to stand on the shoulders of giants in the counseling profession. It’s been an honor to have the opportunity to wear so many leadership hats. Blessings.