When I talk to groups of professional counselors, I am always struck by two things: 1) their commitment to helping others and 2) how challenging it is for them to “blow their own horn” when it comes to sharing with others the amazing work that they are doing each and every day. April is Counseling Awareness Month, however, so I need as many professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students as possible to sing the praises of what you and your colleagues do.
In last month’s column, I talked about our society needing counselors “now more than ever.” For many years, ACA has worked to build and promote Counseling Awareness Month, primarily so that you have a vehicle (plus tips and resources) for letting colleagues, consumers, public officials and the media know what counselors do for millions of children, adolescents, adults, couples, families and communities seeking a pathway through life’s many challenges.
We are facing some harsh realities as a society, including strife in various parts of the world, abject hunger in some countries and a political climate here in the U.S. that is more divisive than many of us have ever witnessed in our lifetimes. That makes it particularly critical for as many of our members as possible to let others know about the role that professional counselors can play during times of stress, anxiety, fear and perceived helplessness.
I encourage you to visit the ACA website (counseling.org) for resources to promote the amazing work of counselors during Counseling Awareness Month. Some may endeavor to participate in statewide events, but every effort counts. That could mean doing something for parents of elementary school students or setting up a table at the local mall on a Saturday. As long as you impact one person who then remembers what he or she heard about professional counseling, you will be doing your part.
Think about it: If each ACA member was able to connect with and make just one other person better aware of counseling, we would automatically have impacted more than 50,000 people. And if some of you are able to talk with more than one person, well then, the numbers really increase.
Let me be very upfront. At this time in history, with everything going on in the world and in the United States, we cannot afford to “take a pass” this year. So please work with your colleagues, communities and friends to spread the word about Counseling Awareness Month.
I would also like to thank all of you who attended the ACA 2017 Conference in San Francisco. This was a very special gathering, especially given that it was originally scheduled for Nashville. As many of you know, the conference had to be relocated after devastating legislation was passed in Tennessee allowing professional counselors to violate the ACA Code of Ethics, specifically by permitting a denial of services to anyone on the basis of a counselor’s personal beliefs or values.
For those of you who were unable to join us this year, I hope you will consider attending the ACA 2018 Conference in Atlanta from April 25 to 29. It is shaping up to be another great event for the profession.
Finally, I want to give a personal shoutout to the ACA staff. They have withstood many challenges this year in the name of advancing the profession and helping to create an ACA that is responsive to our members’ needs. Each day, I am amazed by their commitment, and I am indebted to them for their efforts. I am blessed to work with such a diverse, knowledgeable and dedicated team of colleagues.