Richard Yep

It seems like we were just wondering what Y2K would mean for our computers, digital instruments and other data systems. Now here we are at the beginning of a new decade of the 21st century. On behalf of the American Counseling Association staff, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year full of good health, prosperity, peace and compassion for one another.

Rather than a resolution, which we might stick on the refrigerator door and then promptly forget about, I’d like you to consider something else — namely, a “professional rededication” — that begins with my asking you a favor.

For nearly 58 years, ACA (formerly the American Personnel and Guidance Association and then the American Association for Counseling and Development) has dedicated itself to the improvement of the counseling profession in order to better help those whom our members serve. Your being a member has allowed us to develop resources, information and positions that have led ACA to becoming the “largest organized body of professional counselors in the world” (a phrase I often use as a reminder of the important role and professional responsibility such a description carries).

But here is something you may not know. It is estimated that upward of 600,000 people in the United States alone identify as being a counselor. Despite steady increases in ACA membership every month since July 2009, a surge in student membership during the past year and the recent achievement of California becoming the 50th state to enact a counselor licensure law, our 42,000 members represent only about 7 percent of the profession’s estimated total. This is not OK.

ACA sets professional standards, enforces a strong code of ethics and provides tens of thousands of continuing education credits to counselors every year, making us the organization to which many more counselors must belong. So here is the favor I want you to consider.

During 2012, ACA will celebrate its 60th anniversary. I am asking you to join me in committing to a “60/60” campaign that will bring ACA to 60,000 members by the time we complete our 60th anniversary year. This borders on being an audacious goal given the economy and other societal factors. It will not be an easy task, but as trained professional counselors, you know that many things worth committing to are not easy.

What I am asking each of you to do is to bring one person to our ACA community. Invite them to join us at our table, follow our Code of Ethics, participate in our programs, contribute their ideas about the profession and take part in the leadership of the world’s largest organized body of professional counselors.

We can meet the challenge proposed by the “60/60” campaign. But be advised that it will take all of us — members, leaders and staff — if we are to be successful. For this phase of the challenge, no T-shirts, no coupons, no ACA baseball caps and no BMW convertibles will be given away if you are successful in recruiting your one new member. We need to do this because we believe an ACA that is inclusive, diverse and serving as a laboratory of new ideas for the counseling profession is better than resting on our laurels and being satisfied with what we have accomplished during the previous six decades of service.

I do not know which leaders, staff or members will be at our table 36 months from now on Dec. 31, 2012, but I can tell you that I will be the first to rededicate myself to finding more professional counselors and students in counselor education who are willing to be members of ACA. I hope you will do the same.

Please contact me with any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have via e-mail at or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.

Thanks and be well.