If there were ever a time when our communities, nation and world needed the amazing work of professional counselors, it is now. April is Counseling Awareness Month, and in past years, I have encouraged you to use the month to celebrate the counseling profession. Given all that our world has experienced over the past 15 months, I know that it might sound odd to once again say, “Let’s celebrate!” But when you think about all the stories of resilience and how so many have overcome adversity, there is something to celebrate. Call it perseverance, raised awareness or just plain old “stepping up.”
To those of you who identify as members of the counseling profession, please take a moment from all you are doing and experiencing, both personally and professionally, to acknowledge the contribution you have made to helping so many people — clients, students, colleagues, friends, family members. Your work has helped our communities move forward. I am grateful for your efforts.
Just as many of you have continued to serve others, both in person and online, ACA wants to continue meeting your needs. We know that we need to be just as creative in delivering our services as you are in the work you do with your clients and students.
This month, thousands of professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students will “gather” for ACA’s first-ever Virtual Conference Experience. There are double the number of keynote presentations compared with previous years, and because the event runs throughout April and May, attendees will be able to acquire more CEs in one place and at one ACA event than ever before. Even if you missed the original broadcast of a session, your registration allows you on-demand access all the way through the end of May.
Why do a virtual conference? Because those representing you on the Governing Council, as well as the ACA staff, have recognized the importance of providing information, resources, research findings and networking opportunities. The counseling community did not stop serving clients and students when COVID-19 hit. ACA has adopted that philosophy and will creatively bring to our attendees a world-class experience.
This will be unlike any previous ACA Conference, so I encourage you to consider being present at this event. I suggest that you reserve time on your calendar to attend keynotes and content sessions, just like you would if we were gathering in person. As busy professionals, it might be tempting to “multitask” during a virtual conference, but that could leave you a bit unfulfilled. Block out the time and try to stay focused on the sessions you have chosen to attend.
I must admit that I will miss seeing many of you and receiving the hugs for which our community is known. All of that will have to wait until the 2022 ACA Conference. For now, when the 2021 event opens April 5, we will be taking a bold step forward in content delivery. We want you to focus on benefiting from what your colleagues will be sharing. If you are one of our nearly 900 presenters, I know that you will want the undivided attention of our attendees. I look forward to “seeing” many of you at the ACA Virtual Conference Experience.
I am also hoping that each of you will do something for yourself during Counseling Awareness Month, especially given all that we have been through. I continue to reference the importance of self-care in this column, and I appreciate those of you who have shared with me what you do for your own self-care. I would love to hear from more of you.
As always, I look forward to receiving your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep.