For several months now, the American Counseling Association has been fortunate to see our membership numbers grow. At first, the inclusion of professional liability insurance for every master’s-level student member appeared to be the reason for our growth. However, we are now seeing increases in the “Professional” and “New Professional” categories as well. In fact, when we began 2012, we had crossed the 49,000-member mark, and we are hopeful of reaching 50,000 by June 30!
For reaching our current membership level, I absolutely must thank all of you. Your willingness to join or renew your membership in ACA speaks volumes, especially given the current economy. Let’s face it, we all vote with our checkbooks. That may sound crass, but in many ways, today’s consumers are savvier, making purchases and joining organizations that have meaning to them rather than doing something “just because.”
So, to all the members of ACA — whether you have just joined or have been a member for a very long time — thank you so much for your vote of confidence. The staff and I hope to maintain your support as we work to develop the products, services and resources that will make a positive impact on the important work you do.
As we proceed through challenging economic times, ACA will continue to do what it can for our members. Take for example our 30-plus-year effort to see the enactment of counselor licensure in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. We have also maintained a strong advocacy record at the federal level, as demonstrated by the Department of Defense’s recent announcement allowing licensed professional counselors to practice independently within TRICARE. Although we will continue working on the details of the independent practice regulations, this is a very positive step for those seeking to work with members of the military and their dependents.
We are committed to making your membership in ACA even more valuable. For example, we have been providing you with 12 continuing education credits each year at no additional cost. And, as I mentioned in my previous column, we now make the Journal of Counseling & Development available online and searchable back to Volume 1, Issue 1 as part of your membership.
And now for my request. Our range of products, services and resources continues to improve, but we can remain on that track only with a strong, committed and supportive membership base — a base that needs to keep growing. I am asking that you consider urging a colleague to join ACA at some point this year, preferably sooner rather than later! Or, perhaps you have the means to purchase the “gift of membership” for a graduate student in counselor education.
Why am I asking you to do this? Because there really is “strength in numbers,” and ACA has grown from just over 40,000 members to more than 49,000 members in five years. My sincere hope is that ACA will make its next jump from 50,000 members to 60,000 members in an even shorter period of time. This can be accomplished if we are all working together.
I hope that I can count on you to join with me in finding, recruiting and signing up even more members. This isn’t just a game of numbers. It is our effort to continue to elevate the profession of counseling, to be a diverse and inclusive organization, and to ensure the public that counselors who belong to ACA maintain high standards of practice and abide by the ACA Code of Ethics.
For those attending next month’s ACA Annual Conference & Expo in San Francisco (March 21-25), I look forward to seeing you. The complete list of Education Sessions is now online for your planning purposes at counseling.org/Convention/2012/2012_Education_Sessions.pdf. I think you will see that we have quite an array of offerings this year. And with keynote speakers Irvin Yalom and NPR journalist Craig Windham (who holds both a master’s and a doctorate in counseling!), I know you will be in for some compelling and inspiring discussions.
As always, I hope you will contact me with any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have. Please contact me via email at email@example.com or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.
Thanks and be well.