Next month, more than 120 million voters will cast a ballot for president of the United States. In addition to those who have voted in several previous elections, there will be a large number who will be casting a ballot for the very first time. Call me an optimist, but I think that when you vote, you are empowered. So, regardless of who you vote for, I hope you will exercise the right to do so, keeping in mind that many people living outside of the United States do not have the same rights and privileges.
You might agree with me that many public policy makers and other government officials just don’t have a very clear idea about what professional counselors actually do, nor do they understand the extensive training, expertise and background that counselors possess. I am hoping we will continue working toward ensuring that those who serve as public officials will indeed know what you do, and that is why I am challenging you to get involved.
To make things a little more “real” for those outside the profession, I ask you to make sure that all elected officials know about the great work performed by counselors. Whether you work in schools, private practice, community agencies, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, corporations or other settings, you can do much to empower your profession, and do much for your clients, by letting those involved in public policy know about the good work professional counselors do.
I also encourage you to “get involved” with what we here at the American Counseling Association are doing to advocate for the profession. You can help educate public policy decision makers about the importance of counseling services, including those being provided each and every day to members of the military, to the public at large, to those who can afford such services and to those who cannot. Advocating for your profession and for those whom you serve is critical to moving our agenda forward.
We also need to look at how to form coalitions with those who will advocate with us on issues of common concern. Sometimes, pairing professional organizations with consumer groups can create a very strong voice for the advocacy of counseling services. If you need more information about the issues on which ACA is working or guidance on how to improve your advocacy skills on behalf of the profession, go to counseling.org/publicpolicy or call our highly trained public policy staff at 800.347.6647 ext. 354.
Speaking of elections, in just another month or so, you will also be asked to cast a ballot for the next ACA president-elect. You have some highly qualified and dedicated members running for that office this year. There are also a number of open seats in divisions and regions. Please take a moment to read through the questions and answers from the president-elect candidates (see p. 38), and make sure you follow the directions on how to cast your ballot. Remember, voting is empowerment, so why not take advantage of the opportunity?
ACA has been fortunate to have some wonderful leaders over the years. During my time with the association, I have been honored to work with more than 20 men and women who have served as ACA president. I want you to know that one of our “stars,” Dr. Ken Hoyt, who served as ACA president in 1966-67, passed away at the end of August. Our deepest condolences went to his family. I know that many in the profession have noted the incredible contributions that Ken made to the improvement of counseling. In next month’s issue of Counseling Today, we will be profiling the life and work of Ken Hoyt.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.
Thanks and be well.