Richard Yep

Professional counselors sometimes question whether their efforts are having an impact. While some see results quickly, others wonder if they are making a difference.

If you look at our society in its current state, I think a lack of professional counseling services and counselor education would have resulted in many more problems, such as increased bullying, more crime, a higher incidence of discrimination and more cases of depression. Trust me, you make a difference!

How do I know? I’ll point to one example I observed at the end of March when nearly 3,000 counseling professionals gathered for the American Counseling Association Annual Conference in Honolulu. Attendees chose from more than 450 education programs and networked with colleagues from around the world. I had the good fortune of “coanchoring” the ACA National Awards program, and based on the achievements that were recognized, I saw that counseling is alive, well and thriving. This important profession is on the move.

That brings me to whether ACA is making a difference in your life. If not, we shouldn’t expect our 40,000-plus members to keep renewing year after year. If we are not practicing in a transparent and open way, then shame on us. As your executive director, I have tried to answer the questions that are asked, solve problems where possible and work with our very talented staff to develop resources that can help you in the important and critical work you do.

We now have counselor licensure in 49 of the 50 states, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Our goal is to bring California into the “family,” and I hope we will see that happen soon. That victory would go beyond simply benefiting those who practice in California. With all 50 states in the fold, we could enhance our work at the national level as federal policy-makers look at reimbursement issues for mental health professionals involved with Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.

Here are a few other signs that we are on the move.

You can view photos from the recent ACA Annual Conference on our website at and in a montage in this issue of Counseling Today, but did you know that more than 500 people signed up in Hawaii for next year’s conference in Charlotte, N.C. (March 19-23, 2009)? To me, that is a very good sign for what is shaping up to be another important networking and professional development event.

Many of you also received an e-mail from me last month informing you that dues in the association would be going up by $4 as of July 1. I appreciate those of you who responded by indicating that you understand why this step is being taken; I also appreciate the handful who shared concerns about whether the increase is justified.

I hope my responses helped to articulate the need for the increase and let you know that, given the economic situation, your ACA Governing Council deliberately chose to cap the increase at $4. While this works out to less than 2 cents per day, I realize that every penny counts. My commitment is that ACA will continue to look at ways to deliver services and resources that offer the best possible value.

How do we know what to produce? Good question. In the old days, a list of ideas and a dartboard might have worked! But not in this day and age, when every decision could cost the organization and its members many, many hard-earned dollars. So let me tell you something that is about to happen.

As an ACA member, your opinions are needed. Beginning later this month, ACA will be conducting a survey of members as we continue to ask how ACA can best serve you. What can we do for you? How can we help you grow as a professional counselor? How can we best deliver value and quality services?

We have engaged a national research organization to conduct this survey. This company will collect information from a sample of our members and provide an independent report of your opinions and needs. Your answers will be confidential, so if you are called, feel free to speak honestly. Your time with this effort is greatly appreciated and will result in our being able to provide better services, products and resources for the ACA membership.

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.