With spring’s arrival, we welcome many new graduates at the master’s and doctoral levels into the counseling profession. Some will continue on in their studies, whereas others will begin preparing for state licensure, look for jobs in K-12 schools or figure out how to repay student loans. Regardless of whether you fall into any (or all) of these categories, or one that I didn’t list, I want to congratulate you on the work you have done, the dedication you have shown and the commitment you have made to helping people face life’s many challenges.
The work you will be doing now and perhaps into the middle of this century is so incredibly important for our society. That is no exaggeration. In fact, I may even be underestimating all that you will face. There is a sense of increasing divisiveness, chaos and uncertainty about where the world’s governments and leaders are headed. This puts the need for professional counselors who will be called on to address growing anxiety and concern among young people, couples, families, adults and communities into sharper focus. The role of professional counselors and counselor educators will be key if we hope to see increased communication and understanding among people.
We live in a time when opinions, decisions and accusations seem to shoot across the internet in rapid-fire succession. The jolting messages and subsequent reactions have a jarring effect, especially among our youth. The numerous ways in which we receive news, opinions and commentary on a 24/7 basis is like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. There simply isn’t time to understand an issue, discuss it and process how it might affect us before the “next big thing” lands on the news or burns up Twitter. Professional counselors will need to help students, clients and communities understand how to gain control of seemingly out-of-control situations.
A great deal is riding on the work that emerging professional counselors will do during their careers, so I hope you will consider the American Counseling Association your professional home. We want to ensure that you have a good start to what has the potential for being a rewarding career. I am inspired by your dedication and humbled by what you will do for society.
There will be times when you might question your career choice or whether the specialty you selected was the correct path. When those thoughts come to mind, contact us! Join one of the many ACA Interest Networks that are free to all ACA members. Consider the Interest Networks to be your virtual “coffeehouse,” where you can duck in for conversation with other professional counselors on topics of common concern. Access to the Interest Networks is found at counseling.org/aca-community/aca-groups/interest-networks.
In addition to our Interest Networks, remember to check out ACA’s 19 divisions. These organizations have a long history of providing information, resources, networking and volunteer activities. Adding one or more division memberships to your ACA membership is a great way to stay current on specific focus areas of counseling.
If you are a new professional and have made it this far in my column, I am going to ask you a favor. Think 25 years into the future — it is 2043. As you “look back” over your career as a professional counselor or counselor educator, what would you cite as your greatest accomplishment? Feel free to send me a quick email at the address below to let me know.
For now, thank you for what you have already accomplished as you begin your work as a new professional counselor. Best of luck, and know that many of us are counting on the good work you will be doing. Have a great career!