Here it is the 16th year of the “new” millennium. Looking back at our entry into the 21st century, we have seen many advances in technology, health care and, in some cases, tolerance of others. However, there is still so much work for professional counselors related to the services they provide to children, adolescents, adults, couples, families, organizations and communities.
As we begin 2016, the ACA staff and I look forward to how we will be your partners in professionalism this year. Our goals continue to include providing the services, resources and advocacy to help you in your incredibly important work.
In terms of advocating on your behalf, the facts speak for themselves. The ACA Governing Council has reiterated its commitment to supporting all of our members, and many of you know that President Obama recently signed into law an amendment that we championed allowing licensed professional counselors (LPCs) to practice independently under TRICARE through 2021. With a “stroke of the pen,” TRICARE’s 4.8 million beneficiaries, consisting of active-duty military members, military families and veterans, instantly gained greater access to the services of LPCs. Given that 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide each day, bringing LPCs to the table to practice independently was timely, responsible and compassionate.
Another issue that has been discussed over the past few months involves accreditation and the association’s position on the future pathway to professionalism and state licensure. To provide some facts and to respond to questions you might have, ACA launched a webpage on accreditation issues last month (accessible through counseling.org). In addition to using the resources available in this information center, you can call our toll-free phone number to leave a question or make a comment.
ACA also believes in partnering with groups that share common interests and concerns with us. For instance, our work with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation will continue next month when ACA once again stands as a co-sponsor of Time to Thrive, a conference that looks at issues facing LGBTQ teens. This event is unique because it brings together national organizations, community practitioners and advocates, and LGBTQ teens.
ACA also continues responding to member needs. Why? Because despite our many months of membership growth, the record-breaking sign-ups for this year’s ACA Conference & Expo in Montréal (March 31-April 3) and a truly strong group of new webinars we are offering to members and nonmembers alike, I know we cannot rest on our past victories. Practicing “business as usual” will not sustain ACA into the future. We know that as your practice, your clients and your students are changing, we have to produce resources and conduct advocacy that will keep you current in your work.
Frankly, we can’t meet your needs unless you share your thoughts, concerns and questions with us. So, as we begin a new year, I will continue to suggest that you let us know what you need as a professional counselor, a counselor educator or a graduate student. We want to hear from you. Although we can’t realistically be everything to everyone, you do have my commitment that the ACA staff and I will consider, explore, research and look at the impact of your requests.
Along with wishes for a more peaceful and compassionate world in 2016, the staff and I hope the best for each of you and appreciate your good work.