Here we are at the beginning of a new year. I look forward to it with a renewed hope that what we will face in the coming 12 months will be better than what we have encountered during the past dozen. Something about opening up that new calendar (printed or digital) and realizing that it is a brand-new year allows me to be a tad more optimistic about what can be accomplished.
As a society, we went through quite a bit this past year. We mourned the loss of innocent lives to so many human-made and natural disasters. We began a much more earnest dialogue about sexual harassment as more women found their voice to call perpetrators out. And in the United States, I’d say that our president’s name was referenced more times, by more people, than any of his predecessors were during their first 12 months in office.
The counseling profession continued to gain ground over the past year in terms of its recognition by public policymakers, the media and its sister professions. This is no time to rest on our laurels. Rather, we must continue to spread the good word about the work that all of you do each and every day.
This is a column about hope. Rather than giving up on issues that seem insurmountable, let’s continue to instill hope in others — colleagues, clients, students and communities. Professional counselors help others see that a better day is ahead. I know the work you do can result in great fatigue. Sometimes, you may even wonder if it is worth the effort. Trust me, it is, especially at this time in our history. As our society asks questions of itself, professional counselors are here to help sort through the various facets of those questions. You are problem-solvers and facilitators. You provide clarity and, as already noted, hope.
Your professional association has also asked many questions of itself and how it will serve its members. Your Governing Council, led by President Gerard Lawson, will be considering a new strategic plan in April. This road map, whose construction began during the presidency of Thelma Duffey and continued with Catherine Roland, will be what helps to move the American Counseling Association into the middle of the 21st century. When I hear your representatives discuss the elements of the strategic plan, it gives me great hope for the ongoing and future success of ACA.
We will emerge from the strategic planning process with … even more process! You see, the strategic plan is not supposed to be some document that sits on a bookshelf. Rather, it equates to (here I go again) a plan of hope — something the association will refer to as it develops its efforts in advocacy, resource development, research and how best to meet your needs. To be successful, the strategic plan must be a living, breathing, “hope-filled” document.
My hope for all of you? The best way to answer that focuses on what we, as a professional society, can do to make your job better, more meaningful and perhaps just a bit easier. We will continue to advocate for licensure portability, to work toward better reimbursement and to ensure parity for the counseling profession. However, we also want to help you directly in your roles as professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students. I always list my phone number and email address at the end of my column. I am inviting you to let me know what we can do to improve your job, provide a resource that you need or, yes, give you hope about the importance of the work you do.
Happy Hope-filled New Year.
As always, I look forward to receiving your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to contact me by phone at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep.