I am of the mindset that professional counselors are today’s superheroes. True, you may not be able to fly over tall buildings or single-handedly defeat invading aliens, but those are fantasies that we see in the movies. The work you do is real. It is also impactful, challenging and, hopefully, rewarding. April is Counseling Awareness Month — an entire month dedicated to the promotion and celebration of what counselors do each and every day for millions of children, adolescents, adults, couples, families and communities.
ACA created Counseling Awareness Month many years ago because we knew the story of counseling — your story — needed to be told so that millions of potential clients and students would better understand the critical role you play in our nation’s schools, communities, and other private and public institutions. With everything counselors have to do in their “real jobs,” we knew you would be the last group to organize and blow your own horn. So, we decided to get things rolling by offering resources, ideas and advice on how best to celebrate Counseling Awareness Month where you live and work.
For Counseling Awareness Month 2018, we find ourselves in a unique position. Most years, the ACA Conference & Expo serves as a prelude to the launch of Counseling Awareness Month. This year, however, the conference actually will be one of the final events, given that we will be gathering in Atlanta toward the end of April. Those of you attending can expect to commune with more than 4,000 others who share your interests, passion and desire to help others. In many ways, professional counselors are the most amazing advocates for clients, students and colleagues. This central focus on advocacy makes me think that our two keynote speakers, who just so happen to know a bit about advocacy, are perfect selections for this year’s conference.
Dolores Huerta, one of the founders of the United Farm Workers, has been a civil rights advocate for more than 50 years. Her message of social justice and advocacy has kept her at the forefront of many movements that address the needs of the disadvantaged. Our other keynote speaker, Johnnetta Cole, is well-respected as an educator, humanitarian and leader in ensuring that all students, regardless of their circumstances, have the opportunity to reach their full potential. As the first African American female president of Spelman College, she is a tireless advocate for the less fortunate. I believe the messages being shared by both of these extraordinary women will provide inspirational reminders of the work we must all continue to do to help those in need.
I do hope that you will gather with your colleagues to think about the best ways to let your constituencies, communities and students know about the work of professional counselors. With all that is going on in our country, it is clear that what you do is critical. The growing divisions among groups of people, the lack of respect we see from some of our leaders and the increased violence we are witnessing in some communities provide even more reasons to let others know about the important role that professional counselors can play in ameliorating some of the ills in our society.
In a column I wrote years ago, I shared a quote from Nelson Mandela. It remains just as appropriate today as you continue to do the amazing work of professional counselors. I think it is especially poignant as we consider the challenges our society is facing. Mandela said, “It always seems impossible, until it is done.”
To all professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students in counselor education, Happy Counseling Awareness Month. Thank you for being my superheroes.
As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep. Be well.