Respectful discussion, the inclusion of diverse voices and compassion for our fellow humans seem to be waning these days. Many pundits and others will tell you what (or who) has driven this “new normal” in American society. But the question is, does it really matter who started this or who perpetuates the growing divide? Isn’t it more important to think about what we, as a society, want to do to address the need for compassion, concern and the willingness to help those facing life’s challenges?
Professional counselors, I’m calling on you! Day in and day out, through good times and bad, society has been able to count on the incredible work of professional counselors to help communities, individuals, students, couples and families address issues that prevent them from having the productive and rewarding lives they deserve. Professional counselors are able to diagnose and treat mental health disorders and provide the skills individuals need to avoid serious behavioral health issues that can grow to become devastating.
Although the winter months include holidays and events that bring great joy to many individuals and families, we are also cognizant that feelings of social isolation and depression can be heightened during this period. The American Counseling Association offers resources on its website for those of you who have clients or students facing such challenges. We also have new resources and information about what the midterm elections may mean for critical issues such as the Affordable Care Act, including the possible loss of the pre-existing conditions mandate and the likelihood of retaining mental health benefits. Plus, we have resources for those of you who work with clients and students affected by hate crimes, discrimination, human-caused tragedies or natural disasters.
Needless to say, the content and resources on the ACA website are a reflection of the times. ACA is always interested in hearing what you, our members, think are the most important resources and information to help you in the amazing work you do. I can’t imagine how much worse things might be if it were not for the services you provide to so many. I know it might not always feel that you are beating back the dark grasp of fearmongering and divisiveness, but take a moment to reflect on how you make a difference, one life at a time. If you affect 100 lives this year and you multiply that by the more than 200,000 professional counselors in the U.S. (this number varies, so I’m using the “low end” for this example), we are talking about positively influencing 20 million lives. And let’s face it, many of you are impacting way more than 100 lives each year, and there are likely more than 200,000 professional counselors in our country.
Regarding those approximately 20 million lives, think about what these individuals might have done (and how many additional lives they would have affected) had they not seen a professional counselor. What injury (either to self or others) and trauma might they have caused without your intervention and ongoing support?
The counseling profession is special. You are special. The ACA staff and I wish you all the best as we come to the close of this calendar year. If you do observe a religious holiday, we wish you a happy one. We are honored to be your professional home as we look forward to a peaceful and awe-inspiring 2019.