As we close out 2015, many of us are taking stock of the year. It seems like only yesterday that we were worrying about what the dreaded Y2K bug might do to our computers as we entered the year 2000. Some readers will remember the warnings of what dangers lurked as we crossed the threshold into the 21st century.
To realize that we are now into the second decade of the “new millennium” boggles the mind. Thanks to the accelerated advancements of technology and big data, many of us are working smarter. At times it seems that our “phones” have gone way beyond what we remember seeing in Dick Tracy comics (you millennials will have to Google who Dick Tracy was). In addition, the realm of health care cures and prevention has made quantum leaps in a relatively short period of time.
At the same time, technology, health care, an improving global economy and all sorts of new gadgets only seem to accentuate the great divide between the fortunate and the impoverished. The statistics are striking. Consider the following realities, in this day and age, in the United States alone:
- In 2012, 46.5 million people were living in poverty.
- The poverty rate included 15 percent of all Americans and 21.8 percent of children under age 18.
- Children represent more than one-third of the people living in poverty and deep poverty.
- Families headed by a single adult are more likely to be headed by women, and these female-headed households are at greater risk of poverty.
- More than 40 percent of the 15.5 million children living in poverty live in what is defined as “extreme poverty.”
We all know of the effects that these realities have on the mental and physical well-being of our most vulnerable populations. I reference these statistics not to sadden us but rather to express gratitude for the work of professional counselors. Why? Because without your work with clients, students and communities, I believe that these atrocious statistics would be even worse.
The work ahead for the counseling profession is a heavy lift but one I know you will all face with commitment, passion and dedication. Your efforts are key to making the United States and, in fact, the entire world a better place. You don’t always hear that from others, but I wanted to make sure that you heard it from me. During my tenure spanning more than 25 years at the American Counseling Association, I have been in awe of your efforts. I know your work can sometimes be a thankless job, but I also understand that you don’t do it for the accolades or tributes.
The counseling profession is alive and well. It continues to grow and develop. I realize that you don’t always agree with one another about the path to professionalism, but I have never doubted the resolve you each possess to do what is right for your clients and students. Likewise, I have never doubted your integrity and willingness to find a better path for those with whom you work. I hope that the resources, opportunities, advocacy and services that ACA provides are valued and helpful in the amazing work that you do.