Counselors, get excited! It is our month, and what a month it is. From counseling awareness to “Teal Day,” we are on the move and making things happen. The American Counseling Association “designates April of each year as Counseling Awareness Month (CAM), a time of advocacy for the profession and celebration of the outstanding efforts of counselors in myriad settings as they seek to facilitate the growth and development of all people.” And to boot, it is the month that hosts our most beloved conference. Three years have lapsed since we last saw one another in person, and the excitement for this year’s gathering is already through the roof. I hope that you will come ready to celebrate our reunion community style. Especially on International Day!
International Day will be a time when we come together to celebrate each other, no matter our intersection. Just one fabulous day of appreciation! There will be many ways to observe the day. Clothing will be just one way, and what I would hope is that you adorn yourself with your favorite outfit. ACA Conference attendees will be provided with a list highlighting just a few of the traditional types of cultural attire that one might wear. I can’t wait to share mine with you. You can even wear teal if you prefer that as an option.
However, International Day is not just about the outfit. What other traditions do you honor? Find a way to showcase those and come ready to share with your colleagues and friends throughout the day during designated times — like at our amazing opening session (with our electrifying keynote speaker, The Reverend Nontombi Naomi Tutu), during meals with colleagues or at our extraordinary opening night party. My girl Naomi, while counting being the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as among the challenges of her life, would also be the first to credit his life and teachings for her own commitments. Living that legacy continues to confront her, and her powerful musings will challenge and inspire us. Come feel her passion and fire!
To borrow liberally from the theme song of a formerly popular TV sitcom: “Thank you for being a counselor. Traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is genuine, you’re a therapist and a confidant. And if I threw a party … the card attached would say, ‘Thank you for all that you are doing and will do for the people you serve!’”
Counselors are phenomenal! We come in all varieties. No, I am not talking ice cream or even culturally. I am referring to the many professional career pathways that cannot be denied to us by external parties that often wish to control our narrative and define or limit the activities of professional counselors. To this end, 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling provided opportunities for all professional counselors and counseling organizations to embrace inclusivity together. In 2010, after much debate, the 20/20 delegates provided a consensus definition of counseling for all counselors to adopt, a professionwide description to be utilized by our clients, the public and legislators. Endorsed by ACA, counseling is defined as “a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education and career goals.” We are those people! Let’s embrace it!
I recently had a moment in my car. It was one of those where you go back in time — a strong, almost spiritual, reoccurrence of a time and space where music came alive and magically touched and transformed your soul. It was that feel-good feeling! Honestly, it was an absolutely indescribable feeling. Aahhhhhhh! Can you go there with me? On that day, all it took was the amazing opening melody and chords of the song. It hit me quick, I’m telling you — before the first verse was even sung. And, trust, this artist sure ’nuff can put a hurting on you as a songstress.
The song in question, you ask? Well, it was the original studio version of Stephanie Mills’ “Feel the Fire.” Yes, that song! It really took me there! I couldn’t find the original song on YouTube, but the musicians’ interlude does come close to it here (check out the video at http://youtu.be/cIB9blye6bQ). Even then, for some reason in that crowded venue, it was not popping like it was back in the day when my needle used to glide across the vinyl and the music began to play.
Aahhh, the memories. Those were the days, my friend. The month of April will soon boast these as well!
#ShakeItUp and #TapSomeoneIn.