Monthly Archives: April 2019

CEO’s Message: Counseling’s voice louder with the support of others

Richard Yep April 1, 2019

Richard Yep, ACA CEO

There are 1.7 million students in the U.S. who attend schools with police but no counselor, according to a recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union. This implies that those school districts are spending more money on police and security officers than on professional school counselors. Don’t get me wrong. I am a strong supporter of keeping our students safe, but I am troubled by spending more on arming school personnel with weapons than on arming students with the skills to be good, caring and compassionate human beings. To help students become the adults we want them to be, we need more professional school counselors.

This type of statement coming from the CEO of the American Counseling Association could seem self-serving, but let’s remember that a number of teachers unions have also been advocating for more professional school counselors. Why would educators do this? Because they value having trained mental health professionals working with them in school settings. Many teachers and administrators know that professional school counselors are key members of the school team and bring a special set of skills with them.

At ACA, our job is to help public policymakers and local communities understand the importance of professional school counselors. Because April is Counseling Awareness Month, this is the perfect time to start spreading the good news about what these professionals do every day for our nation’s most important asset — our children.

Of course, Counseling Awareness Month was created to celebrate all professional counselors. So, in addition to advocating for professional school counselors, let’s commit to doing what we can for those who identify as licensed professional counselors (LPCs) and clinical mental health counselors. At the federal level, ACA has been pleased to work with congressional offices over the past few months to secure introduction of a bill that would finally allow LPCs to practice independently under Medicare. This has been a multiyear effort by ACA, and we may have a better shot at seeing passage of this critical legislation now than in the past.

We need to all work together to generate important support for all professional counselors. As the world’s largest organized body of professional counselors, ACA led the charge to achieve enactment of counselor licensure in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. Licensure boards and courts of law cite the ACA Code of Ethics, and we are proud of our partnerships with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Human Rights Campaign, and federal agencies and congressional offices.

I think that the next three years will be critical for the counseling profession. Upon entering 2022, ACA will be looking back on 70 years of advocacy for and development of the profession. Let’s agree to celebrate Counseling Awareness Month this year by sharing your stories with colleagues, with community members and with those who sit in positions of legislative and regulatory authority. Let’s be “counselor proud,” not just for the profession itself but for the millions of clients and students you affect through your important work.

I also want to take a moment to thank the more than 4,000 of you who joined together in New Orleans for the ACA 2019 Conference & Expo. With all that is going on in society, and the resulting stress faced by professional counselors, it was wonderful to have so many of you under one roof. For those who attended, thank you. I hope your time in New Orleans was of great benefit and something that will sustain you in the coming year.

From the staff of ACA, we honor you, we appreciate you, and we recommit to doing
all we can for the counseling profession.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or to email me at ryep@counseling.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep.

Be well.

 

 

From the President: What it means to be a professional counselor

Simone Lambert

Simone Lambert, ACA’s 67th president

Happy Counseling Awareness Month! What a wonderful opportunity for us to share with the public, policymakers and stakeholders about who we are and what we do. We often talk about who we are in terms of our training, our post-degree supervision and our credentialing exams. We may even discuss our counselor identity in terms of our setting, client population or topic specialty area. Our definition of counseling and scope of practice epitomize what we do. But in addition to who we are and what we do, let’s highlight what it means to be a professional counselor.

Being a professional counselor is an honor. It is a privilege to walk with clients and communities through difficult journeys of healing. We may choose different modalities, theories and techniques to intervene and provide treatment as counselors, yet we all select the most appropriate approach for the client or student who is sitting in front of us in that moment of sadness, anger or joy. We accompany clients and students through unspeakable traumas and are humbled by the courage we witness every day in clients both young and old. We view people holistically and through a lens of intersectionality. We assist people through recovery and toward optimal wellness.

What it means to be a professional counselor is shaped by our ACA Code of Ethics and by state regulation and practice laws. Yet, we also need to consider our roles in our communities. For clients and students to feel comfortable being vulnerable and sharing their hardships with us in session, we must conduct ourselves with integrity, both in our physical and online communities. To gain public trust, we must embrace being held to a higher standard in all that we do. Does that mean that we need to be perfect? No one is perfect. However, we never know who might arrive on our doorstep as a client, so we need to strive to implement our aspirational values not just in our counseling sessions but also in our everyday lives. Professional counselors model respect, embrace diversity and engage in advocacy.

Advocating for the counseling profession during Counseling Awareness Month is critical. We need to use our collective voice to let policymakers and stakeholders know that we are an integral part of the mental health workforce in our schools and communities. We might need to obtain specialized training to address specific client issues, but legislators need to know that we are all trained to treat mental illness and promote mental health. Regardless of where we work or what age group we see, we need the public to understand that we are here and ready to help with valuable, life-saving and life-improving services. In fact, one of the American Counseling Association’s priority initiatives is “raising awareness among the public and consumers about the benefits provided by the counseling profession.” There are some amazing tools we can use during Counseling Awareness Month to help us do just that, although I encourage you to engage in such advocacy efforts year-round.

Please share these resources in your communities to increase public awareness of who we are and what we do and to collaborate with policymakers to improve access to the care provided by professional counselors in schools and communities. As you interact with legislators and community leaders, you are encouraged to share what being a professional counselor means to you. To help you in your efforts, visit the following links.