Some of the staff here at ACA have heard me say that 2020 was a year of surprises. Yes, some of these surprises were good, but if I’m being honest, many of them were pretty bad. I’ve also said that while 2020 was the year of surprises, 2021 will be a year of uncertainty. In fact, I think the only certainty this year is knowing that it will be filled with uncertainty.
As 2021 began, we saw significant changes at the federal level of government and among those elected to guide our nation. We were feeling hopeful because more than one COVID-19 vaccine was being rolled out, increasing the prospect that tens of millions of Americans would receive protection against the coronavirus in the first few months of the year. In addition, it looked as if the world might be moving toward economic recovery and our schools might be reopening.
Of course, tearing a page off a calendar doesn’t really put all the experiences of that month (or the previous 12 months) in the rearview mirror. So, January 2021 started with record numbers of people contracting the COVID-19 virus and the discovery of even more contagious strains infecting people around the country. Then there was the riot and illegal entry into the U.S. Capitol by a faction of people certain that a rigged election had led to the defeat of their hero, former President Donald Trump. Despite those happenings, I want to be hopeful and optimistic about what this 21st year of the 21st century will bring.
What gives me hope is all of you. I am so thankful for the efforts of our members and other professional counselors. It is clear to me that you have been doing amazing work. And as we emerge from the multiple nightmares of 2020, we will continue to need your considerable counseling skills.
Here is what I want you to remember, however. Giving your all does not mean giving all of yourself. To continue conducting the critical work you do, you must be mindful of when you need a break. What is the use of having a bunch of burned-out counselors who are unable to provide such valuable services to clients and students? Stay on top of what you need to refresh yourself, and please check on your colleagues who may need a nudge to engage in self-care. You may be the counseling professional, but you are also someone experiencing what everyone else is at this time. You need to turn off the TV, put down your electronic devices and find ways to rest.
ACA has a long and storied history of taking positions on issues related to social justice. One recent example is our Governing Council’s courageous decision to vote on a comprehensive anti-racism plan that will continue to unfold in the coming years. This plan looks at both personal responsibility and systemic issues of racism within the profession and society.
In addition, it was important that ACA make a statement about last month’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. I want to reiterate that statements made by ACA on social justice issues are not grounded in political ideology or party affiliation. Rather, our positions are discussed, debated and decided upon by the 30 members of our board. The positions taken by ACA are consistent with the association’s strategic plan and established policies.
I hope you will agree that it is important for ACA to advocate for its members, but even more important that we envision a world that is more just, respectful and peaceful for clients and students.