Happy Counseling Awareness Month! For my fellow counselors and counseling students: It’s our month to celebrate and to let everyone know how counselors can help them live happier, fuller, more balanced lives.
Now is a great time to be a counselor. Professional counselors can be licensed in all 50 states in a multitude of settings. As our world changes, counselors continue to change in order to meet new needs.
Now is also a great time for us to join the American Counseling Association. The achievements above has been made possible by the efforts of members of the ACA, which reached 50,000 members last month. If you’re a student or young professional and not yet a member, JOIN. You’ll be in good company and have a disturbingly huge wealth of resources at your disposal. It’s almost irresponsible to not be a member.
Don’t just join, get involved. Grad students can serve on committees (this is old but check back later this year), join online special interest networks, and enter the ethics and essay competitions. We can join divisions of interest to explore these topics further–and you know what? You can always let the division membership lapse next year if your interests take you somewhere else. We can read the magazine and journals to stay current in the field. We can learn about current issues and how to advocate for them, or at least join Government Relations listserv. We can even sign up for a mentor or get help finding that first job.
Professors and practicing professionals: Please encourage your students and colleagues to join and get active. And stay active yourselves. Use the free services provided. Advocate. Don’t practice in a vacuum.
Lest you think I preach but don’t practice, here’s how I’m involved: I’m a member of the ACA and three divisions, the Association for Creativity in Counseling, the Association for Humanistic Counseling, and the Association for Adult Development and Aging. I read the journals and magazine. I find myself on the ACA website almost every day. I voted in the 2012 elections. I entered the grad student essay competition and have applied for committee membership and other special opportunities–I wasn’t accepted for these, but they were great opportunities to define my position on certain topices. Next year, my goal is to serve on a committee and attend the conference. Watch out, counseling world!
By doing all of these things, I’ve learned about the current issues and big names in the field, interacted with some great people, picked up ideas for the future, and gotten an overall better concept of the counseling field.
Counselors have an obligation to advocate, including advocating for our profession. Sometimes we’re so busy helping others that we forget to stick up for ourselves. We’ve made some great strides in the past few years. What are you doing to help others understand how we can help them?
P.S. I’ve heard cake helps.