Counseling Today, From the President

From the president: Making room for the new

By Thelma Duffey December 22, 2015

Thelma Duffey, ACA's 64th president

Thelma Duffey, ACA’s 64th president

Every now and then, I like to clean out my closets. There is something exciting (yes, I know how that sounds) about the chance to reorganize, take stock of and appreciate what I have. I have to admit that it’s also nice when my hard work makes room for something new!

At the same time, I enjoy preserving some things that connect me to my history. For example, I have one closet that stores little treasures such as my children’s old pajamas that I remember them toddling around in so many years ago. I’ve also held on to some clothes that I can still visualize them wearing when I remember them walking in the front door, eating at the breakfast table or playing in the yard. I even have dresses that my mother hand sewed for me when I was a young girl. And on my top shelf, I have a record player and some of my favorite records. Much like my heart, my closet stores so many memories of a life I love.

So when it comes to closets, I have my system down. I clean them out, make room for the new and hold on to those things I treasure.

The new year offers a similar opportunity. It provides a concrete demarcation between the past of the previous year and the present of today. It also provides us with a context from which to envision our futures. Vision is a wonderful catalyst for the good things to come.

When I think of what our professional closets hold, I imagine our rich history as counselors, including those things we continue to preserve and honor. Among these I visualize our hard-won accomplishments such as licensure in every state, our definition of counseling and our focus on diversity, wellness and creativity. We cherish these things and allow them to inform our futures.

We also have things we could well leave behind. As I consider these, I imagine a collective cleaning out of any unproductive dynamics that entrench us in no-win conversations, misinformation or self-limiting narratives. I imagine cleaning out barriers that keep us from listening or responding in ways that foster solutions.

And when I think of my hopes for the new, I imagine so much! I imagine parity and licensure portability in every state; clarity of identity and standards; well-earned opportunities for all professional counselors, including within TRICARE, Medicare and the Department of
Veterans Affairs; and a deep sense of professional pride and connectedness. Each of these things remains on my professional wish list.

As the new year launches, I will try to get to my closets at home, although my travel schedule makes that a bit tricky these days. What I can pledge is to work with you to make room in our professional closets for the good things to come. There are great things on the horizon for the profession of counseling. I view this year as a time for us to continue taking stock of our needs, coming together to address them and enjoying the good that can result when we join together as counselors invested in making a positive difference in our profession and our communities. I say let’s make room for the new!

Many thanks, and sincere wishes for a terrific new year.


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