Counseling Today, From the Executive Director

CEO’s Message: Will you take the pledge to end divisiveness in America?

Richard Yep August 3, 2017

Richard Yep, ACA CEO

During my many decades on the planet, I have never seen such divisiveness across so many sectors of the United States. It seems that almost daily, we are alerted to this growing divide by examples in the newspaper, on television and via tweet. Please note that this column is not about political conservatives or progressives. Rather, it is about those who might have the chance (or even the responsibility) to help others get back on track and move toward a society that looks beyond what makes us different and instead builds off of what we can learn from one another.

It is time to ask professional counselors and counselor educators to take their place in reducing the verbal (and, in some cases, physical) assaults that seem to be occurring on a regular basis. I am all for free speech, but I cannot abide drawing distinctions between groups of people because of the way they look, what religion they practice, where they were born or whom they choose to love. 

Our nation can do better than where we currently find ourselves. It is almost as if some blanket permission has been granted that allows people to denigrate others simply to gain the upper hand or to prove who has more power over others. All of these actions can have a deleterious effect on our communities. This has been demonstrated week after week for several months.

We all need to do our part to reach out, bridge the divide, help others and ensure that the voiceless have voice. I can’t think of a profession better suited for this assignment than professional counselors. As advocates, as providers of essential mental health services and as human beings, today’s professional counselors possess the expertise and compassion to help make America inclusive again. Trust me, I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses, but I am hopeful about what human service professionals — and especially professional counselors — can do to help heal our communities. 

Now that I have said you are key to the solution, what’s next? Well, that would start with each and every one of you who is reading this. Think about how you, as an individual, can be more tolerant, more accepting and more inclusive. From there, work with your clients, your students and your community to explore issues that can prevent divisiveness from raising its ugly head. Just think about the impact if our nation’s 250,000-plus counselors helped one person apiece in their efforts to be less divisive in their communities. Now add in elected officials and other constituencies to project what we could achieve in lessening the divisive rhetoric that we are constantly processing. 

I am asking you to join me in taking the pledge to do your part to make the United States (or, for those of you outside of the U.S., your own communities) do something — anything — that will move us toward what I am calling “intentional inclusiveness.” This doesn’t have to be with a client or a student; it can be with anyone with whom you come into contact. It needs to start somewhere, so why not with each of us? I would love to hear from those of you who “take the pledge,” and I am even more interested in learning what you plan to do.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to contact me at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or via email at ryep@counseling.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep.

Be well.

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Tamara Suttle

    Thank you, Richard, for opening up this challenge.

    I thin it’s the right thing for you as CEO to do.

    If not us, then who?

    Professional counselors often bring their own innate relational tendencies to the field; but, certainly, we then train and train and train to learn even better how to understand, foster, and navigate relationships – relationships with our individual selves and then also our relationships with others.

    We are better-trained than just about anyone else in the world to understand and initiate change . . . and surely we can all agree that there is a need for finding common ground and exploring change.

    “Intentional inclusiveness.”

    I like the sound of that!

    I’m taking the pledge and what I’m doing about it is trying to change my black-and-white thinking to see the gray and, equally important, I’m changing my language and what I do with it.

    I refuse to point fingers and talk about Republicans and Democrats; instead, I’m talking about actual problems and situations and potential changes that might lead to solutions.

    I know we have more in common than I can sometimes remember.

    And, I’m stepping into more conversations (rather than staying comfortably silent) in the face of divisive (racist, homophobic, sexist) comments.

    And, the real stretch for me is trying to do so with curiosity and an openness to better learn and seek to understand how someone can think so differently than me; I’m trying to meet that person with love and an open heart.

    Honestly, I’m not as good at all this as I would like to be.

    But, the important point is that I hold a deep commitment to learning to do this better – intentionally, consciously, and inclusively.

    As a white woman of some middle class privilege, I know I can do better.

    We all can.

    Reply

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