On behalf of the ACA staff, a very happy new year to all. My hope is that 2022 will allow us to reflect on those things that are so important in life, to value the friendships and family that grace us, and to appreciate the opportunities that present themselves to us in the coming months.
Regarding my personal journey in 2022, as you may have read, this past summer I informed the current ACA Governing Council, chaired by President Kent Butler, that I will be stepping down from my role as CEO when my current employment contract ends on June 30. By that point, I will have served as CEO for 24 years (and been with ACA for a total of 34 years). It is time for someone else to take the job of being the board’s staff person and the manager of an incredibly talented staff of 65 employees. Being CEO has been one of the greatest professional honors of my life.
But I’m not gone yet! I will share additional reflections in the coming months. For now, here is why I am so excited about ACA in the coming year.
Our volunteer leaders at the national, regional and branch levels have worked closely with our staff to advance the Counseling Compact. This ACA project will allow currently licensed counselors to practice in states other than where they hold their license. We have looked at data and heard from counselors that the ability to practice (in person or via telehealth) in different states is a priority for many. When 10 states are part of the Counseling Compact, we can begin to implement this benefit. Thus far, two governors have signed the Counseling Compact into law. In 2022, I feel confident that at least eight other states will join Maryland and Georgia. The ACA Governing Council allocated $600,000 to initiate, draft and complete this project. For more information about one of ACA’s single largest projects in its history, visit counselingcompact.org.
Our effort to have Medicare recognize licensed professional counselors (LPCs) as independent, reimbursable providers has sometimes been referred to as the “holy grail” of ACA’s legislative agenda at the federal level. There is no logical reason why LPCs should not join licensed psychologists and social workers in providing such critical services to Medicare beneficiaries. Including LPCs would help to meet the growing mental health needs in our nation. We have more momentum than ever for getting Congress to pass this legislation that is well overdue. I am confident that President Joe Biden will sign it into law.
One of the most courageous stands ACA has taken in its history has involved a self-reflection and commitment to addressing the systemic and institutional racism that faces the counseling profession. Rather than just offering platitudes or position statements, ACA’s volunteer leadership has faced this issue head-on and allocated more than $200,000 to fund nine key actions that seek to address the oppression brought on through racism and discrimination. I am hopeful that as each component of the ACA Anti-racism Action Plan is addressed, some very tangible results will become evident. These include increasing the diversity we see in the leadership pipeline, correcting policies and practices that result in conscious and unconscious bias, and funding programs that will provide opportunities for those who have historically been “left out” to become active participants in the research, scholarship and practice of professional counseling.
I am hopeful that 2022 will include meaningful and positive accomplishments in support of the counseling profession. Thank you in advance for the impact you will make this year.