The continuing challenges much of the world’s population is facing are daunting, consuming and overpowering. Here in the United States, the ongoing battle against the coronavirus, critical discussions around racism, and an unconventional national election can drain one’s energy and spirit. Add to that an economy that sees so many people out of work and so many others in a state of food insecurity.
My message to you is that we cannot let all of this overwhelm those who are part of the solution. You are part of the solution. The work being done by professional counselors and counselor educators and the education and training that counseling graduate students are receiving are what give me hope for the world that many of us envision: a world of respect, dignity and inclusiveness.
I’ve said this many times in this column: The counseling profession is so critically important in addressing the challenges that confront clients, students and communities. So, in order to keep going and to help others thrive, I encourage you to continue practicing the basics of self-care. Just as you are passionate about helping others find their way, you must know when it is time to take a break, consult with colleagues or even stop counseling long enough to recharge.
At ACA, we want to help you in your practice, we want to advocate for the profession, and we want to ensure that those who can benefit from your work will seek you out. We can do all of these things, but it will not amount to a “hill of beans” unless we have professional counselors who can practice, teach and supervise. Burn out and we all lose out.
Please take a moment to think about what you do (and what you tell others) about self-care. Search the internet for new ideas. Browse the ACA website for information. Or just get yourself a big bowl of popcorn and turn on Netflix. Whatever it is that helps you meet the challenges professional counselors face, I encourage you to do that on a regular basis. I also strongly suggest that you schedule your self-care activity in your calendar.
I know that your ACA Governing Council is committed to serving, helping and advocating for you. The actions taken related to licensure portability, reimbursement issues, practice issues in the age of COVID-19, and anti-racism are just four examples of the myriad topics the board has addressed over the past few years. Another important decision the Governing Council has made is that the 2021 ACA Conference will be virtual. While we will miss out on in-person chats and hugs, I like the idea that even more professional counselors will have the chance to gather, learn, network and even socialize with one another. More information can be found at counseling.org.
I would love to have your suggestions about what ACA can do for you. In asking that question and receiving suggestions, I sometimes find that we are already providing that resource or service, but that it has not been well publicized. Other times, suggestions from members have resulted in our exploring and acting on an issue.
If you have time, I would also like to hear what you do to ensure that you are practicing self-care. You can send me a quick email or photo because I truly am interested. When you share that information, I also think it serves as a good reminder to continue that practice.