In just about 16 months, U.S. voters will head to the polls to decide who their elected leaders will be at the local, state and national levels of government. This is an important right for those who are eligible to vote. The economy, health care, gun violence, services for our veterans, protections for LGBTQ individuals, and the environment are among the issues whose futures could be critically shaped by those we elect.
Despite relatively positive economic numbers for some sectors of the population, there continues to be a growing gap between those who hold most of the wealth and those who find it a challenge to put food on their tables. The next election could also have a decided impact on issues that affect the counseling profession, your clients and your students.
I can tell you that here at ACA, we have focused on what we can do for the profession at both the state and federal levels. Our commitment is demonstrated through our building of an incredibly talented public policy team, our work with both Congress and federal agencies on issues that will result in greater job opportunities for professional counselors, and our work to defeat so-called conversion therapy on minors at the state level (ACA won on this issue in every state in which it worked this past year).
Some of our major efforts this year will include:
- Creating the path for licensed professional counselors (LPCs) to move to another state and begin practicing again with as few obstacles as possible. This will be done through the creation of an interstate compact in which states come together to agree on what that action requires. ACA has committed up to $500,000 to build the structure for this effort.
- Working intensely at the federal level to deliver the right for LPCs to receive Medicare reimbursement.
- Advocating for the role of professional school counselors, career counselors, and those working in rehabilitation and addictions counseling. Our goal is to continue having state and federal officials understand the important role that these professional counselors play in our communities.
Last month, ACA organized more than 100 professional counselors who went to Capitol Hill to visit with members of Congress. During those visits, numerous contacts were made. In addition, our members raised important awareness about the work that you and your colleagues do each and every day. Next month, we will join with a number of mental health professions and others for an even larger advocacy day on Capitol Hill.
We simply must make sure that professional counselors are seen, that they are heard, and that we take advocacy seriously. Too many people in positions of authority to make decisions that affect counselors’ practice and the lives of clients do not have the information or expertise necessary to deliver choices that will be of the greatest community benefit.
I am asking each of you to join us in our efforts. Go to ACA’s Government Affairs webpage at counseling.org/government-affairs/public-policy to learn (and communicate) about the latest issues. As an ACA member, I encourage you to join our public policy community.
ACA has a rich history of being active in the support, promotion and enhancement of the profession. What I just shared speaks to our efforts in the public policy arena. I also want to acknowledge an ACA volunteer who for the past eight years has served the profession as our private practice consultant — Anthony “AJ” Centore. Many of you have read his columns over the years in Counseling Today as he provided advice on building, maintaining and enhancing a private practice. He has been of great help to many of our readers. We look forward to working on other endeavors that will use Anthony’s expertise, which means that you will now be hearing from others who are in the private practice space. I just wanted to make sure that I shared my deep appreciation for Anthony’s contributions over many years.