Counseling Today, From the President

From the President: A time of intense difficulty

S. Kent Butler July 30, 2021

S. Kent Butler, ACA’s 70th president

Hotep! We as human beings have encountered many critical situations of late, each having positively or negatively affected society in some way. History serves to remind us that the circumstances surrounding these critical situations often are not new, no matter how much we believe our present-day issues to be unique.

When we take a step back, we can appreciate that throughout time, people have faced trials and tribulations that in the moment seemed insurmountable, yet still they survived. Some of these incidents were horrific and thought to be devastating blows. Others appeared to be much milder, with folks getting knocked down but responding by getting right back up — often because counselors interceded in their lives. Kudos to counselors who stand in the gap during these difficult times.

Through the centuries, we have shown ourselves capable of making the best of bad situations. This does not mean that what a person is going through is not a hardship, just that it may be new for them and old hat for others. As we are suffering through things, we may not believe there is light at the end of the tunnel, but the truth of the matter is that we often emerge on the other side of trouble better and stronger for having persevered through it. There is a lesson to be learned somewhere in our hardships if we are truly listening — actively listening — and ready to hear it.

While our current pandemic is rightly considered a crisis, historical records tell us it is not the world’s first. So, what have we learned? I am not raising this comment and question to minimize or discount how traumatic the past 18 months have been to our society. Rather, they are meant to acknowledge that for many of our global citizens, this is the first time they have witnessed something of this epic proportion.

In many respects, the main function of a crisis is to shake things up, personally tapping us in to deal with and navigate the fallout. If this is the case, then crises might be viewed as the ultimate setup — circumstances placed in front of us to foster our development and strengthen our resolve. Conceivably, we have recorded salient takeaways from our past (from prior crises) and, over time, we have learned to be resilient — which makes embracing history such a vital aspect of life. To this end, a famous quote from Winston Churchill, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” makes a useful and valid point. Are we listening and learning from our past? It is all quite intriguing and makes me wonder what will be chronicled in the future about the way we traversed life’s circumstances in 2020 and 2021. No doubt about it, time will definitely tell.

It is likely safe to say that everyone, in their own way, will experience a personal crisis in their lifetime. However, culturally responsive counselors are equipped with all the tools necessary to help their clients find and tap into their resilience. The pages that follow in this issue of Counseling Today should provide all counselors with valuable information that can help them best serve their clients. After reading, take some time to reflect on the information or confer with your colleagues to hear their perspectives and build upon your existing expertise and skills. You just might come across brilliant new ways to tweak what you are already doing well and find that much more success in your practice. Once you embrace this newfound or reimagined knowledge, #ShakeItUp a bit and #TapSomeoneIn so they too can do great work with their clientele.

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