Richard YepEach day, society is faced with any number of tragedies, traumas and emergencies where lives literally hang in the balance. Many of you have faced situations in which the action you took, based on years of education, experience and training, allowed you to step in and save a life. After more than 25 years with ACA, I am still amazed and honored to be working with members and leaders who have done so much to improve our society. Your work is something to be proud of and serves as an inspiration to those following in your footsteps as professional counselors.

Although I’m aware of the heroic efforts of our members and leaders, I’d like to tell you about the potentially lifesaving actions taken by one of our ACA staff members. Last month, another of our staff members who was eating lunch looked to be in distress and tried to quickly head out the door. In the hallway was Carlos Soto, ACA’s senior graphic designer and the person who designs Counseling Today each month. He realized there was something more to this situation than someone looking to get some fresh air. In this instance, the person was struggling to get any air because food had become lodged in her throat.

Based on observation and then acting on experience, Carlos came to the rescue and applied the Heimlich maneuver. Thanks to his quick thinking and action, Carlos was able to clear his colleague’s obstructed airway, and a sense of calm returned to the office. Had he not been there at that moment, I am not sure what the outcome would have been. However, I do know that Carlos is yet another person with whom I am proud to serve here at ACA, and I was inspired by his act of heroism.

Many of you have also been heroes over the years. You have been there to help a child, adolescent, couple, family or individual at a critical moment in their lives. You were the right person, at the right time and in the right place. Just like Carlos, your experience and instinct helped you to provide a service such as emotional first aid to those facing life’s challenges. My question is, how will this be instilled in those who are just starting their careers as professional counselors? Is it instinctive? Is it something one can learn? Is it a combination of both?

While we at ACA cannot necessarily develop a product that improves someone’s natural instincts, we can do our best to deliver resources, consultation, services and networking opportunities to our members and others who will serve (or are preparing to serve) as professional counselors. But we can’t do it without constant input, comments, suggestions and, yes, even criticism. We depend on you to help us develop resources that will lead professional counselors who practice ethically and deliver exemplary service. Please know that we do appreciate your feedback and suggestions! For those of you who have shared thoughts and suggestions via ACA’s Facebook page or through ACA Connect, the online networking tool located on the ACA website, thank you. We really do read what you post.

To those of you (and this includes Carlos) who have reached out and saved lives, thank you for your service, your courage and your compassion. It doesn’t seem enough to say that you are inspirational, which is why I just said it for the second time in this column. Many thanks.

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

Be well.