Richard YepFor those of you who have read my column for the past decade, you know that the September topic often focuses on the beginning of a new academic year and the promise that such a starting point holds. I have referred to those who teach, those who are looking to complete their graduate degrees in counseling and even those who are just starting out on their path to learning at the elementary school level. I still wish each of those groups of people the best of luck as the academic year gets under way, but I am using this month’s column to look at other issues that affect you as counseling professionals.

In late July, for reasons perhaps known only to the shooter himself, a young man entered a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., took the lives of 12 people and wounded nearly 60 others. Countless individuals were affected emotionally. Many of you know that the American Counseling Association lost “one of our own” when member Alex Teves, a young man who had just received his master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of Denver, was gunned down as he protected his girlfriend from the shooter’s rampage. Some of you saw Alex’s father on the news as he asked the media to refrain from using the gunman’s name on the air. I am respecting his request here. We all wish the Teves family, as well as Alex’s friends, comfort as they deal with what has happened.

Two months from now, our electorate will “go to the polls” and vote for the next president of the United States. The ensuing actions of either a reelected president or a newly elected one will have far-reaching implications, both for Americans and for many people around the world. But don’t forget that many political races are going on at the state and local levels as well. As advocates for your clients, your students and your own profession, I encourage you to participate in the voting process and have your voice heard. If you won’t be in your home precinct on Election Day, make sure that your vote will be counted by requesting an absentee ballot.

Looking toward 2013, I can tell you that representatives from all of ACA’s divisions and regions, as well as our Program Selection Committee, have done a terrific job of choosing more than 400 education sessions and preconference learning institutes for the ACA Conference & Expo next March in Cincinnati. Given the number of high-quality proposals we received this year, I know those making the selections had a difficult time. I hope you will seriously consider attending our 61st annual conference next March because it really is shaping up to be an outstanding experience for attendees.

Last but not least, I want to provide a special shout-out to those who were a part of the ACA Institute for Leadership Training that was held earlier this summer. More than 130 leaders and emerging leaders gathered just outside Washington, D.C., to participate in four days of learning, networking and advocating. In addition to connecting with counterparts from around the country, participants spent one morning visiting with elected officials and congressional staff from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Did it make a difference? In many ways, I believe that it did (and will) make an impact, both in the short term and the long term. My hope, of course, is that leaders and emerging leaders who participated in the Institute for Leadership Training return to their home bases more energized and more enthusiastic as they approach the year ahead.

Which, now that I think about it, takes us full circle in terms of my starting out this column. I guess the September column is still about new beginnings and perhaps a hopefulness that we can make an impact, either as individuals or as a group, that will contribute to creating a more just, compassionate and peaceful world.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800.347.6647 ext. 231 or via email at You can also follow me on Twitter: @RichYep.

Be well.