CericieOver the past few years, our association has sought to enhance its visibility within the global counseling community. The standing ACA International Committee historically has been charged with highlighting counseling issues that affect our international members, as well as those global issues that have import for our overall membership. However, we believe that it is time for ACA to extend its reach internationally.

There are a few compelling reasons that have informed our decision. The first is based in our clear understanding of where we are developmentally as a profession. Counseling has grown to establish itself as a legitimate mental health profession with licensure laws, national certification procedures and accreditation guidelines for training. We have proved that we are here to stay. Further, our master’s and doctoral degree programs continue to produce high-quality professionals who provide much-needed services within the various professional settings. Although we acknowledge that serious concerns such as parity and license portability still exist, the counseling profession has shown that it is a viable alternative to existing mental health training options. Hence, it is developmentally appropriate that we consider expansion and connection outside of our national borders. It is no longer sufficient to solely look inward. We have matured and are now curious about our relationship to others.

Another reason to extend our reach is that many of the international students who trained at our institutions have returned to their home countries to establish high-quality counseling programs themselves. They now produce their own graduates who serve in schools, agencies and private practice. We have an obligation to maintain communication with our international alumni who promote the profession through their scholarship, education and training, and practice. Additionally, many of the international students who graduated from our programs have gone on to create professional organizations back home. It is imperative that we advocate for the profession by connecting with our sister organizations abroad.

A third reason for extending our reach internationally is that we have the potential to enhance our understanding of multicultural counseling issues. We have a long-standing tradition of advancing knowledge about counseling with diverse clients, but there are more aspects of multiculturalism in counseling to be explored. By reaching out to global communities, we will continue to learn more about increasing our efficacy with clients.

Lastly, ACA is extending its reach by exploring global markets for ACA products and resources. It is my sincere hope that by the end of my presidency, we will have devised a special fee scale that better enables ACA members who are non-U.S. citizens living abroad to maintain membership and register for conferences.

Other efforts are evident in the work of the International Committee and the International Counseling Interest Network (ICIN), as well as in collaborations with sister organizations. Historically, the International Committee has been charged with coordinating certain events at the annual ACA Conference, including the international student panel, the Hans Z. Hoxter International Forum and an international reception. The ICIN was formed in 2012 to provide an avenue for ACA members interested in international counseling issues to dialogue and share information with each other. This is an active group that has garnered the interest and passion of counselors within and beyond the United States. This year, I have committed to solidifying sustainable partnerships with our sister organizations internationally and have begun several conversations with the International Association for Counselling, the Korean Counseling Association and others to establish guidelines for collaborative research endeavors, conference attendance and graduate student mentoring.

So, at the ACA Conference in Honolulu in March, when you see international attendees, stop and greet them, be curious about their work and engage in dialogue with them (preferably over coffee/tea!). You may be surprised to learn what is similar and what is different about counseling transnationally.

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