Richard YepFor nearly 60 years, ACA and its members have understood the importance of advocacy — both for our members and for those served by our members. An additional aspect is what I call the “external advocacy” conducted by ACA leaders, members and staff that is directed at those who make decisions and create regulations that determine, in some cases, the very livelihood of professional counselors.

During these challenging economic times, ACA knows that many of you are affected by what is happening in society, both in terms of your own jobs and the jobs held (or, unfortunately, formerly held) by those whom you serve. The current outlook for the creation or reinstatement of jobs here in the United States is not especially rosy. It is in times like these that your professional association, ACA, must look at its resources and build a base that will put us in the position to do two things: preserve those jobs that currently exist for counselors and lay the groundwork to move counselors into jobs that will eventually open as the economy starts improving.

You have ACA’s commitment that we will continue providing the services and benefits that you have come to appreciate and value. But we also know that simply “doing what we have been doing” is not good enough. We owe you more. It is in that spirit that we continue ramping up what we are doing in the public policy arena at federal, state and local levels. During the past few months, we have realigned our public policy unit so that it now includes a grassroots advocacy coordinator. We have also worked on strategies focused on ensuring that professional counselors have the job opportunities for which they are eminently qualified within government and the private sector.

Playing politics and engaging in turf battles is not OK with us because there are simply too many people in need of the critical services that professional counselors provide. The job of our public policy unit — a group that includes staff members who have worked at the local, state and federal levels of government — is to ensure that the interests of professional counselors are represented when decisions are made involving legislative and regulatory matters.

But we cannot do this without you.

I am asking all our members to engage with us — and to encourage your colleagues to join as well — as we seek to advance ACA’s public policy agenda throughout the next year. As you know, the upcoming election cycle will lead to interesting public debate on a number of issues. I encourage all of you to participate to the extent that you can, not only as professional counselors but also as citizens. ACA’s public policy staff will be working to make sure that public officials are educated on the issues that comprise our agenda. I hope all of you will visit the ACA public policy site at to learn about the most recent developments in this arena. I would also ask you to consider responding to our calls to action as they arise.

By speaking out as professional counselors who help millions of families, couples, children, adolescents, veterans and other adults each and every day, we can reinforce your critical role in society. In fact, considering what we are experiencing in the United States regarding our economy and the related stressors, I would say you hold one of the most important jobs in society today.

As I mentioned, we are building the ACA public policy team to be even more attentive to your professional needs. The ACA Public Policy and Legislation Committee is responsible for helping us shape our legislative agenda, and under the leadership of committee Chair Bill Braden, it is meeting that challenge.

All we need is you. Please take the time to read about our public policy efforts as reported in Counseling Today, on the ACA website and in the alerts we send to members of our public policy network.

As always, I hope you will contact me with any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have. Please contact me via email at or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.

Thanks and be well.

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