Next month, thousands of professional counselors, counselor educators, researchers and graduate students will convene in New Orleans for the ACA 2019 Conference & Expo. This annual event comprises more than 400 education sessions, over 100 exhibitors and countless opportunities to network with those who understand your unique professional role.
In some ways, I think this may be one of the most important ACA conferences we have ever held. Why? Because of the challenges we face in society today. The opportunity to meet with colleagues, learn the latest techniques and hear from today’s best researchers in the field can be so beneficial with all that you are doing in your practices or classrooms.
As I have stated before in this column, the importance of “caring for the caregiver” is critical if you are to continue on the professional path you have chosen. Self-care is demonstrated when you permit yourself time to connect with friends and colleagues who share areas of common concern with you. Plus, being in New Orleans for the ACA Conference (March 28-31) means that you will most assuredly eat well too.
Looking back, professional counselors have faced so much with their clients and students over the past 12 to 18 months, including human-made terrorism, natural disasters, a partial shutdown of the federal government, challenges that confront those with addictions issues, an uncertain economy and seemingly constant rants by public policymakers that serve to divide us as a society. As exceptional professionals working with those who feel the impact of such issues, you also need time to recharge.
Being with thousands of others who have chosen a similar career path is affirming, so I do hope you will be able to join us in New Orleans next month. For more information about the ACA Conference & Expo, please visit counseling.org/conference.
In last month’s column, I mentioned the ACA Governing Council’s support of the role that ACA will take in public policy issues, specifically regarding advocacy for the counseling profession and those served by you and your colleagues. Along those lines, I was pleased to see that the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) loan repayment program includes professional counselors this year. The guidelines provide for student loan repayment for those willing to serve in mental health shortage areas. This year, there is a particular emphasis on those working in the addictions and mental health arenas. More information can be found on the ACA website at https://bit.ly/2CUCm2J.
Clearly, many of you were interested in this loan repayment program because only a week after our post about it, we had thousands of views on ACA’s social media channels. The staff and I wish the best for those of you applying for this program and would love to hear about your experience.
Another directive of the ACA Governing Council is to increase our support to members and other professional counselors as they begin their careers. The work we have done to support the NHSC loan repayment program and the efforts we are making to have the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hire more licensed professional counselors in VA facilities stand as examples of our desire to carry out that directive. However, we are always interested in learning directly from you about what we can work on to help you in your career, so please feel free to communicate your thoughts with me.
Again, I hope to see many of you at next month’s ACA Conference & Expo. Even if I don’t see you, please know that your ACA staff stands ready to assist you with your professional endeavors.