Richard YepMuch of life is about expectations. Think about it. At work, we expect certain things to happen based on our actions or the actions of those with whom we work. As a professional counselor, you expect that the services you provide will help children, adolescents, adults, couples and families as they face life’s challenges. For those of us who are parents, we expect our children to act, behave, learn, experience and relate in certain ways, in part because we aspire to be good at what we do.

If you go to a drive-through at a fast food restaurant, the expectation is that someone will take your order within a matter of minutes (or seconds). Then, a few moments later, you expect to be on your way and eating something to satisfy your hunger.

Given the various expectations we have, it can be sobering when someone, some service, some event or some action is not what we had hoped it would be. I know this is part of life. However, I think it is also instructive for professional counselors and others to learn from the experience of a missed expectation.

Recently at a meeting, I found myself in a situation I could not possibly have imagined because of my expectations of those who were gathered there. What one person thought was a funny joke went terribly wrong. This resulted in a follow-up discussion, an opening up and a dialogue that ultimately restored my faith in professional counselors’ desire to solve problems and move forward, knowing that all concerned were better people because of the interaction.

My initial response, of course, was one of shock and disappointment. How could such close-minded thinking and lack of understanding of an issue that was anything but funny exist among this particular group of professionals? Once I overcame my initial concern, I asked myself why I was so taken aback by the situation. Although much of my reaction had to do with the issue and the insensitivity, it was also grounded in my expectations of those I was with.

This introspection led me to further explore the expectations I have of others and the expectations others may have of me. I found myself comparing this with the expectations ACA members have of the association that more than 46,000 of you call your professional home.

As your executive director, I want to do my part to meet your professional expectations concerning what ACA should be providing for you. I know the ACA leadership is dedicated to the same goal. My hope is that you will let me know if we are meeting your expectations — or, of course, if we are failing to do so.

The end of our most recent fiscal year on June 30 marked a very successful 12-month period as measured by a number of metrics related to the profession, the promotion of counseling, financial goals and not-for-profit management objectives. With the best-attended annual conference in at least a decade, membership topping 46,000 and the involvement of more than 1,000 volunteers on committees, task forces, service projects and publishing initiatives, ACA continued delivering on its promise to enhance, improve and advance the counseling profession.

But my question is whether we are meeting your expectations. More important, on the basis of what we are asking you to do — namely, continue your membership in ACA — what do we need to do to meet your expectations as we head into 2012?

Rather than simply delivering what we always have (which is a good menu of services and benefits in comparison with those provided by many other professional organizations), we cannot rest on our laurels. To continue to succeed, ACA will need to be innovative, creative and, most of all, in touch with what you want us to be!

What I can tell you is that in 2011-2012, you can count on an ACA that will continue to work toward improving the services you have identified as being valuable. I will also let you know that during the next several months, we will roll out new products, services and professional opportunities that I hope will meet (and exceed) your expectations. We
are dedicated to providing “value adds” for our membership at the lowest possible costs.

I guess it is all about expectations. 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.