At month’s end (March 28-31), more than 4,000 professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate counseling students will gather for the ACA 2019 Conference & Expo in New Orleans. I hope you will be in attendance if at all possible because we have an outstanding lineup of more than 400 education sessions. In addition, our career center and exposition hall, plus the chance to network with colleagues from all over the world, really contribute to making this one of the year’s premier counseling events.
More importantly, this will be an opportunity for the counseling profession to come together. This is a time for you to recharge, reenergize and renew your commitment and passion for the profession. I can’t think of a better time in our history to have a gathering of thousands of professional counselors.
Together, your impact on hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of clients, students and other members of your communities is incredibly powerful. Yet, I also know that it can take a personal toll. Being with your “counselor family” is critically important — not just to learn about the latest research and cutting-edge practice techniques, but because being together reminds us of the power of counseling and the impact you make each and every day.
You deserve this time with your colleagues and those committed to making counseling even stronger as we move forward. Join us in New Orleans for a true celebration. To learn more about this amazing event, go to counseling.org/conference.
Speaking of celebrations, April is when we celebrate Counseling Awareness Month. One week just wasn’t enough to let others know about the amazing work that counselors do, so we use all of April. Please visit the ACA website and read the e-newsletters we send out for information and tips on what you can do to celebrate the profession in your community.
Letting colleagues, friends and communities know more about what you do is so very important. We also hope to see activities at the state and national levels. Some key pieces of federal legislation have been introduced recently that support the important work of professional counselors. One bill would seek to provide reimbursement for licensed professional counselors who provide services to Medicare beneficiaries. Many of you know that this right is long overdue; it is something that social workers and psychologists have enjoyed for more than 30 years. Our time is now.
In addition, bills that would benefit professional school counselors are being introduced in Congress. ACA plans on supporting those bills that would help school counselors and their students. I encourage you to visit counseling.org/government-affairs/public-policy for the latest updates and calls to action on critical legislation affecting the counseling profession.
You have read this before in my column, but I also urge you to make sure that you are practicing self-care. There is so much going on in society that has an impact on your clients, your students and you. We can feel overwhelmed after watching the news or listening to an endless parade of pundits. Sometimes, what people experience is enough to get them to stop reading, stop watching and stop listening. In some ways, moderating how much news and commentary we absorb is probably a healthy practice to follow.
What I remain sure of is that professional counselors are the change agents who can truly make society a more inclusive, less damaging and more welcoming world. I encourage you to continue your good work.