Richard Yep

In this column a few years ago, I wrote that the American Counseling Association would embark on a journey to attempt to meet more of your needs as a professional counselor, counselor educator or graduate student. Not so much a revolution as an evolution. I said an attempt would be made to find out what members and potential members wanted from their national organization, as well as to identify things you might not have considered that could enhance your professional life.

Rather than simply design a new cover for a publication or offer bigger discounts on books and other professional development materials, the goal was to gather, analyze and pour over data provided by our most important resource — you.

The changes we have made during the past few years to better focus the limited resources we have, as well as to improve our methods of service and product delivery, were designed to be done incrementally and with the mantra of “doing things right.” Quite frankly, some of the changes or “enhancements” we made were so subtle that you may not have realized they were done. Other efforts, such as our focus on public policy issues at the state and national levels, have been more dramatic (as witnessed by our big wins with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which will now permit some professional counselors to serve in supervisory roles, and the enactment of the Nevada counselor licensure law last month; for more on this latest accomplishment, read “Nevada becomes 49th state to establish counselor licensure” on p. 1).

Before I get ahead of myself, let me stress that we are aware there is still much we can do to make ACA an even better organization for the profession. What we want, of course, is for everyone who aspires to become a professional counselor to see that membership in ACA is key to that endeavor.

I need to thank three groups of people for helping with our ongoing transformation: the ACA leadership for their input and support; the ACA staff, who were assigned the transformative tasks (and came up with various solutions); and, most important, the members of ACA who were willing to tell us what they wanted (and what they no longer needed).

How do we measure the success of our endeavors? Well, as noted above, we have celebrated some key public policy victories. Add to that events such as the 2007 ACA Annual Convention, which attracted 25 percent more attendees than we had budgeted for, and our ability to respond so quickly to the needs of Virginia Tech students impacted by the tragic shootings on their campus (see article on p. 3). While we are cautiously optimistic, the final quarter of our just-completed fiscal year saw three consecutive months of membership increases.

As noted, the changes we are making are evolutionary, and they are ongoing. What this means is that we still need your input — and other moves are in the pipeline. You will continue to see improvements over the next several months, and I look forward to your thoughts about what we are doing.

I believe we have clearly demonstrated the financial value of being a member of ACA. But you know what? Being part of ACA goes way beyond the commitment of monetary resources. My hope is that you will continue your membership in ACA (and tell others about the benefits of being part of the world’s largest organization dedicated exclusively to the counseling profession) because of what it means in terms of being a professional. In turn, those of us on staff pledge to do our best in meeting your needs as a counseling professional.

This month, we welcome a new cadre of volunteer leadership into ACA, its divisions, regions and branches. The staff and I extend a special welcome to Brian Canfield as our new ACA president, as well as to our incoming members of the Governing Council. I am confident that the dedicated leaders of our association will continue to move the organization forward.

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.