Richard YepThere was a time not that long ago when someone who turned 60 was considered to be in his or her “twilight” years. This person shortly would retire from a career, take up a hobby and hope that his or her health (and wealth) would hold up long enough to make that golden period of life happy and restful.

Turn the clock back further, and you will find that those turning 60 in the year 1900 were considered extremely lucky to have lived so long.

I know a number of 60-year-olds. What I described above really doesn’t fit any of them. In fact, I know many who have reached that age only to begin yet another career. Some are so active into their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond that their adult children complain that it is often difficult to find their parents at home.

In April, another “colleague” will turn 60. On April 1, 1952, an entity was born that would grow to have one of the greatest impacts on the counseling profession. The “birth” of this organization was due to the collective wisdom of four groups that came together upon realizing that a voice of one would be greater than each of them acting independently. The beginning of the American Counseling Association (then known as the American Personnel and Guidance Association) was 60 years ago.

Will the ACA that many of us know and love face a future like the one described in the opening paragraph of this column? Namely, will ACA ride out its remaining years reflecting on past successes, slowing itself down as it moves into the stage of a “mature” organization, with many considering it to be past its prime years of advocacy and support of the counseling profession? Or will we continue to be vibrant, as demonstrated by meeting the needs of today’s (and tomorrow’s) professional counselors? Will ACA be the professional organization that supports, develops and invigorates a profession that itself has seen dramatic change in training, experience and definition during the past 60 years of its evolution?

Something tells me almost all of us agree about the potential of ACA, and my sense is that this is a position embodied by our leadership, our “wisdom keepers” (those who have served as leaders), the staff and our more than 48,000 members. If this were not true, why would so many counselors and counselor education students decide to join our ranks each year? From my perspective, our growth and development as an entity proves that the organization is solid, knowledgeable and itching to stay both relevant and at the cutting edge in developing what professional counselors need to be successful.

Now, ACA isn’t a person, but it is about to celebrate a 60th birthday. ACA is an organization that, just as our forefathers and foremothers envisioned when they came together in 1952, speaks volumes louder as a collective of counselors rather than as several individual voices. Today’s ACA is dependent on its staff and leadership continuing to produce products, services, research and advocacy that the membership values. If we can meet these objectives, ACA will continue to grow and develop. Our cadre of staff and leaders is aware of the trust placed in them by ACA members and is vigilant in protecting that trust. Leaders, staff and others in ACA understand that the organization must be looked at as part of a continuum. We are stewards at this point in the association’s history so that those coming behind us (the ones who will plan our 75th and 100th anniversaries!) will have options to invigorate and support the profession (some members of which have not even been born yet). The job of today’s leaders and staff is to blaze a path and to ensure that those who come behind us will be able to advance the profession by walking on our shoulders.

So I say, let the celebration begin.

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.