Richard Yep

Let me first wish all of you a Happy New Year as we begin 2008. I am hopeful for a year in which we can live in a peaceful world that continues to value the good work being done by millions of professional counselors, counselor educators and related human service providers.

While my wish for a peaceful world may seem monumental, I sometimes think that simply getting along is the basic step needed to move us all toward that endeavor.

Several years ago, this publication included information from a professional counselor who talked about the profession of marriage and family therapy. The viewpoint expressed in that article was that marriage and family therapy was not its own separate and distinct profession. However, the American Counseling Association leadership did not adopt that view as an official position of ACA. This is such an important point that I am throwing out journalistic style and repeating that last sentence: The American Counseling Association leadership did not adopt that view as an official position of ACA.

Unfortunately, I believe some people who read the original article thought ACA had indeed endorsed the viewpoint that was expressed. I am here to tell you that the staff and I have researched this issue at length, and we have yet to find anything in our archives or official minutes to support the statement that ACA does not regard marriage and family therapy as its own separate profession. But let’s face it, once something becomes part of the “public domain,” anyone can say anything about an issue. While most already understand that ACA does indeed recognize marital/marriage and family therapy as a distinct profession, the association’s current leadership went to the extraordinary lengths of discussing this issue during the fall Governing Council meeting so everyone would be clear on where, exactly, ACA stands.

We can all agree much work remains to be done in helping the world’s children, adolescents, adults, couples and families. Regardless of what some public policymakers may think about the importance of meeting the mental health needs of our most vulnerable, the fact is that help is needed, and the proverbial “client pie” is large enough for all mental health professionals to actively provide services. Whether you are a mental health professional who works in a school setting, private practice, a community agency, a rehabilitation facility, higher education, a hospital, a religious institution or a business, you know that the need exists. You know that you and your professional colleagues always seem to have more to do.

I am sharing these thoughts with you in light of the need to end any interprofessional bickering so we can attend to the work at hand — namely, helping those who are facing life’s challenges. You and your colleagues from the sister professions may not always agree on a particular modality of therapy. You may not always agree on the best path of treatment. You may not even agree on how much to charge someone for your services. However, continuing to spread untrue statements that only serve to raise questions and innuendo seems somewhat pointless and divisive to me.

In 1992, the acquittal of the police officers who had beaten Rodney King sparked days of rioting in Los Angeles. As the riots continued, King emerged and made a public plea for peace, asking, “Can’t we all just get along?” Some people have since made a mockery of King’s brief statement, but perhaps his question rings as true today as it did back in 1992.

Regardless of how you identify yourself professionally — professional counselor, psychologist, social worker, marriage and family therapist — I want you to know how much I appreciate what you are doing for many millions of people throughout the world. My hope for a more peaceful world really does begin locally, and that means the work you do contributes greatly to our moving forward, one step at a time.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or suggestions by e-mailing or calling 800.347.6647 ext. 231.

Thanks and be well.