So much has been written about change over the past 12 months that it seems it is the one constant we can recognize. There is no need to drill down to specific geographic or demographic data; these changes affect everyone.
Among the things we have witnessed are the following:
- We have lived more than a full year with the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that many of you continue adapting to provide critical services in new ways.
- Despite a single political party controlling the House of Representatives, Senate and White House, progress on campaign promises has been slow. This appears to be less the result of challenges from the opposing party and more from some internecine strife within the majority party.
- Efforts continue to gain momentum at the state level to roll back previous groundbreaking legislation regarding the freedoms and rights of citizens.
- More than 40 million people in the United States, including 13 million children, are food insecure.
- The impact of COVID-19 has pushed more than 119 million people worldwide into extreme poverty.
- Climate crises around the globe continue to deepen.
Yet, even in the face of such challenges, there are accomplishments over the past year to acknowledge. At the American Counseling Association, our work for members and others in the counseling profession has included:
- Continued progress on Medicare legislation that would recognize licensed professional counselors as independent practitioners eligible for reimbursement.
- Our signature effort, the Counseling Compact, would allow counselors licensed in one state to practice in another if that state is part of the compact. To become operational, we need 10 states to approve the compact. The progress of our campaign has moved at a faster pace than expected, with two states already enacting the legislation and another 24 in various phases of development. (For more information, go to counselingcompact.org.)
- The ACA Governing Council approved more than $200,000 as a down payment on the association’s anti-racism action plan. The nine-point plan covers many aspects of systemic and institutional racism in counseling, development of resources for counselors, and creation of training materials that explore racism.
- Despite working from home “offices” for all of 2021, the ACA staff continued to deliver on member services, product development and counselor advocacy. In fact, membership grew by almost 10%, publications sales were at an all-time high, and the association continued to build its financial reserves.
- The ACA Governing Council worked on significant revisions to the association’s strategic plan, which will be key to determining what drives the organization forward to mid-2026.
Any column referencing the good news of 2021 would not be complete without mentioning the great work being done by the members of ACA. You learned how to adapt so that you could continue serving as valuable resources and advocates for your clients and students.
You have much to be proud of as we close out 2021. I know many of you are reluctant to toot your own horn. That just isn’t your way. So, let me brag about the amazing work you did over the past 12 months despite some incredible obstacles.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on the past year as well. By engaging in this type of reflection, my hope is that your energy, commitment and dedication as a professional counselor will be renewed as we enter 2022.