A few years ago, we might have received a few calls each month at ACA headquarters from members who were having a tough time finding a job. Since that time, the frequency (and desperation) of these calls has increased significantly. For many, the tough economy has resulted in fewer new jobs. Related to this is the fact that counselor education programs continue to graduate caring, compassionate and dedicated individuals who, after a number of years and thousands of dollars in student loans, simply can’t find gainful employment in the counseling field.
The ACA staff and I hear from counselors (new as well as midcareer professionals) willing to relocate and take lower pay just to find positions in which they can impact people’s lives. Unfortunately, although some positions are out there and occupational outlook data suggest counseling is a growing profession with career possibilities, not enough openings currently exist for those who are so eminently qualified.
Is there something we can do about this unfortunate situation? Do we need to ask counselor education programs if it is viable, long term, to continue recruiting and graduating more counselors? Or can we impact public policy at local, state and federal levels in ways that would create more jobs for professional counselors?
I want to hear from you on this matter. It is critical that we look at this problem and come up with solutions to help these very deserving colleagues of yours. If it was within your power, what would you have government, graduate schools, community agencies and school systems do to address this problem.
Let’s begin a national (or even international) discussion about how to create, find and fund more jobs for professional counselors. I am well aware that the old “magic wand” doesn’t work quite as well as it used to, but perhaps if we generate enough discussion, we can begin to network, exchange ideas and create advocacy plans that will open a dialogue with and engage the interest and support of public policymakers, businesspeople and community leaders. It couldn’t hurt to try. We already know the result if we do nothing.
Perhaps it is time that we all do what we can to create just one more job for counseling professionals. Think about it. If our 27,000 professional members were successful at doing this for the 17,000 student members in our database, we would still have another 10,000 jobs for other counselors looking to move into new positions. And if those 10,000 moved into new positions, that would create vacancies in the jobs they left.
I know this all seems like a pipe dream, but we need to start somewhere, so why not think big? Let’s move this discussion out into the blogosphere, onto e-mail lists and into the general communities in which we live. So much need exists out there, and the counseling profession has so many who wish to work with individuals in need.
Don’t we owe it to those entering the profession — and to those midcareer professionals looking to make an even greater impact with clients and students? I think we do, and I sincerely hope to hear from you on this matter.
As the calendar year closes out, let me thank all of you who are ACA members. The staff and I wish you a productive, peaceful and fulfilling New Year as we look ahead to 2011. And if you were an ACA member as of Nov. 1, 2010, remember to go online to vote for officers and board members! This year, we hope to significantly increase voter participation because moving the process online makes it easier to vote. To learn pertinent information about the candidates, go to the ACA website at counseling.org or turn to our election section beginning on page 64.
Please contact me with any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.
Thanks and be well.