My first column in Counseling Today mentioned collaboration. I emphasized intentional collaboration that, when combined with effective communication, accentuates empowerment. The cover story in this issue of CT also highlights collaboration, and collaboration will play a major role in the action plans discussed below.
At ACA’s 2014 Conference & Expo in Hawaii, the Governing Council approved several collaborative activities for Fiscal Year 2015. Identified as investments in our future, these activities represent action plans for the year. The seven projects continue the efforts of former presidents of ACA and the Governing Council while addressing ACA’s strategic plans. The seven projects are:
1) Assessing the future. An anonymous quote encapsulates this project: “The only truly sustainable competitive advantage is the ability to learn and adapt faster than your competition.” One of the most cost-effective ways to learn about an organization and its future is to gain insight from others. Thus, a Counseling Vision Advisory Task Force will be charged with examining ACA’s future.
We will draw upon the knowledge, experience and diversity of a group of counseling professionals to help us prepare for the future. Emerging societal issues affecting the counseling profession, and thus ACA, will be examined. The vision group will help ACA fulfill its mission heading into its “second hundred years” (which begins in 2052).
2) Investing in students and new professionals. This project would support those who are preparing to become counselors or counselor educators. Scholarships are proposed for recently admitted graduate students, while Emerging Leadership grants are proposed for new professionals.
3) Investing in practitioners. The practice briefs from the ACA Center for Counseling Practice, Policy and Research and the emerging leadership programs will both be enhanced and made more accessible to practitioners. ACA materials, including research-based findings, will be further disseminated to members who are providing direct counseling services.
4) Investing in ACA divisions, regions and branches. Divisions, regions and branches comprise three significant parts of ACA. The funding of joint projects between ACA and its divisions, regions and branches is proposed. High priority will be given to collaborative efforts resulting in membership growth and innovative ideas.
5) Investing in research. Research projects will be solicited and reviewed by the ACA Research and Knowledge Committee and the ACA Center for Counseling Practice, Policy and Research. Findings from national surveys and mental and behavioral health studies will be disseminated to national and international outlets, resulting in ACA being recognized as a leader in producing and disseminating research.
6) Investing in global activities. ACA leadership and staff have explored outreach programs with counseling communities across the globe. The next phase involves using data acquired to create culturally appropriate services and resources for international colleagues.
7) Investing in leadership development. Increased participation in and support of the ACA Institute for Leadership Training (ILT) is being emphasized. The ACA Governing Council convened during the ILT in July, and Governing Council members also used the institute to network with division, region and branch leaders, and to meet with legislators.
Important task forces and work groups are in place. The Social Justice Strategic Planning Task Force is examining ACA’s role related to social justice issues and advocacy. It will recommend systematic and strategic approaches to address social justice issues. A Professional Identity and Membership Employment Work Group is compiling data on ACA membership to determine how ACA can best serve its members. A Task Force on Governance, Organizational Affiliates and Divisions is examining best governing practices that are inclusive in nature.
I look forward to the many challenges and opportunities while serving as your president. Your support and involvement are important. By working together, I know we can make a difference.
Robert L. Smith, Ph.D.
Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education and career goals.