In this month’s column by ACA President Kent Butler, he provides examples of those who have shown their love for their fellow human beings and the benefits of such actions. Loving each other has become challenging with the great divisions being perpetuated on a global scale. It can be challenging to show love to someone who seems to be in a diametrically opposed position regarding politics, systemic racism, distribution of wealth, employment, social justice and, of course, issues related to the health of our communities.
President Butler has embraced the work of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu and provided examples of love in action by a few of his ACA predecessors who have recently passed. The ACA past presidents he referenced — Sam Gladding, Catherine Roland and Robert Smith — were incredible individuals who led through their scholarship, mentorship and dedication to the counseling profession. Above all of these things though, they led through their love of both the profession and of those with whom they worked and served.
As ACA’s CEO, I have witnessed the love that our staff has for the organization and its members. They have shown this through their dedication and commitment to our members, the counseling profession and the communities with which you work. Because of the staff’s love for the cause, the mission and the vision set forth by our volunteer leaders, we have seen growth in membership, support of our licensure portability efforts through the Counseling Compact and the achievement of milestones in ACA’s anti-racism plan. There are many other programs, projects and services that require a great deal of work, and I am constantly amazed by the creativity and work of our staff.
With all that is currently going on in the world, I also continue to be in awe of the love shown by so many professional counselors and counselor educators through efforts to improve our communities. Whether you do this by impacting large groups of people or by providing direct, front-line service one person at a time, please know that you are making a difference. Your actions are grounded in the love you have for your fellow humans, especially those who face life’s challenges.
Going hand in hand with love, of course, is hope. I think about what Desmond Tutu said: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” I’ve always felt that professional counselors do an amazing job of helping clients, students and entire communities find ways to see beyond the darkness.
When I reflect on ACA’s role in the journey of a professional counselor, counselor educator or graduate student, I like to think that what we do regarding advocacy, public policy, resource development, ethics consultations and networking shines some light on supporting the profession. Even in really good years when we deliver on so many projects, we are still developing just as counselors develop — by building off of what we have done previously.
This year, my “hope” is that you will let me and the staff know what it is that will help you in your journey as a professional counselor. We collect a lot of data, we scan reports for trends, and we have a dedicated staff of 60 who are very good at what they do. But the most important thing that we depend on is you! Your feedback, suggestions, requests and, yes, even your critiques are what we find so compelling. We love what you do for those you serve.
Knowing that you help others see beyond the darkness motivates us. So, please feel free to contact me, share some thoughts and let your professional association staff serve you.