Counseling Today, From the President

From the President: Imagining new and expansive possibilities

By Thelma Duffey March 1, 2016

Thelma Duffey, ACA's 64th president

Thelma Duffey, ACA’s 64th president

I belong to a Facebook group that some of my former high school peers established. It’s been interesting to connect with so many of them and to hear about their lives now. A couple of people take the lead in posting information. They often include photos of our old high school, images of what our downtown area used to look like and pictures that most folks born in more recent times wouldn’t recognize.

Images of black dial-up telephones, black-and-white TV sets and other once-innovative technologies are showcased with captions that read, “Friends, do you remember?” The posts connect me with how time has passed, how grateful I am for my life, how some things never change and how far we’ve come technologically.

I have certainly witnessed technological advances within the American Counseling Association as well. I remember not so long ago sitting in small group sessions as a Governing Council member in which we included “meeting 21st-century needs” for our membership as a strategic priority. We envisioned webinars, podcasts and other learning and continuing education opportunities that would support our members and provide services that were truly reflective of 21st-century living. ACA staff quickly responded to our visions. Before we knew it, webinars, podcasts, learning modules and other resources became mainstream. From my perspective, this all happened in the blink of an eye. And now, ACA is adding one more member resource thanks to technology: live streaming of select sessions and the two keynote presentations from the 2016 ACA Conference & Expo in Montréal.

This year’s conference will feature an exceptional lineup of presentations and activities, and I couldn’t be more pleased by our membership’s response. We have a very robust number of counselors planning to attend the conference in Montréal (which is being held in partnership with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association). In fact, registration is on pace to exceed that of last year’s conference in Orlando, Florida. And we will not disappoint!

I hope you can join us in Montréal and take part in the celebrations, networking opportunities and many conference highlights that will be available. But if you can’t join us in person this year, we have found new ways to bring part of the conference experience to you. Technology at ACA headquarters continues to thrive, expanding opportunities for our members and providing the kind of access that has, up until now, been elusive for those who simply cannot travel. I am pleased to say that live streaming of select sessions is a reality this year. Some of our members have expressed this need in the past, and it is exciting to see its launch.

There is no telling what technology will bring to us in the coming years. We must continue to dream big and imagine expansive possibilities for our membership. As I reflect, I am grateful to see that the visions, discussions and hopes of previous Governing Councils and leadership teams are coming to fruition. I am also hopeful that the new visions, discussions and hopes of our current council — and those to come — will net amazing opportunities.

As I travel throughout the country, I have the privilege of meeting exceptional counselors and students who are doing meaningful work in a vast array of settings. I am always excited to hear about their good work and to engage them in initiatives such as the ACA Impact Project. Meeting and sharing time with these colleagues strengthens my resolve to be resourceful, creative and intentional in exploring even more ways to provide services that will enhance their practices and promote their professional standing within the larger mental health arena.

Progress can be achieved through the use of technology, through our collaborations and by being open to the diverse perspectives that inform our future goals. This is an exciting and historic time in our profession. And there is so much yet to come.




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