Those who have been reading these columns know about my affinity for certain words. More than one colleague has chided me about my favorite term: equifinality. I bring it up again here because the principle of equifinality (many possible avenues to reach a successful outcome) resonates with resilience and vision and fits with the presidential theme of intentional collaboration.
During several recent presentations, I have discussed the importance of resilience and emphasized the role of vision for those with whom we work, as well as for counselors, advocates and change agents. There are examples throughout history of individuals, institutions, groups of people and cultures that have demonstrated a remarkable degree of resilience. During a recent visit to New Orleans for the inaugural ALGBTIC Conference, counselors experienced the courage and resilience of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations, while also being reminded of the resilience of a city that was devastated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In all of these situations and circumstances, resilience was accompanied by vision — a mind’s eye of what is possible. Vision is what propels us. It is the driving force that helps give clients hope. A vision can also energize groups for which we advocate, guide professional organizations with which we affiliate and add meaning to an individual’s life work.
The ACA Vision Statement is: The American Counseling Association is the publicly recognized organization to which all professional counselors belong.
On a related note, ACA also has a mission statement: The mission of the American Counseling Association is to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity.
The ACA vision and mission statements apply a broad brush to what is important, both now and in the future. Historically, ACA has shown resilience and adaptability in addressing the goals implied above, as well as the many challenges it has faced through the years. Today, ACA and its members are addressing both new challenges and some challenges that have been with us for a while by using a number of strategies that demonstrate equifinality. My vision, stated below, relates to a number of current challenges.
- Licensure and portability of licensure for all counselors who have demonstrated expertise and supervised training in the counseling profession
- Recognition of all counselors to gainfully practice in areas in which they have demonstrated expertise and training (this includes the Department of Veterans Affairs, TRICARE and Medicare)
- Opportunities to include new professional counseling groups within the ACA structure, while simultaneously innovating representative, efficient governance practices
- Nationwide recognition of professional counselors as a major provider of mental health services, a resource for addressing social justice issues and professionals who demonstrate efficacy of treatment for a wide range of mental health problems
- Worldwide recognition of ACA as the “center for research dissemination” of evidence-based mental health treatment approaches, as well as guidelines for wellness
- Recognition of ACA and its divisions, branches and regions as examples of effective collaboration, resulting in an increase in services and membership growth
The achievement of those vision statements will depend on all of us being able to address the specifics of the associated challenges while intentionally collaborating. I am optimistic that the above vision statements can become a reality.
All the best,
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.