Richard Yep, ACA CEO

After more than a quarter-century working for the American Counseling Association, I am still in awe of the amazing work that our members do each and every day. Whether you are working in schools, private practice, academia, community agencies, government, health facilities, not-for-profits or the corporate sector, what you do is so very important. I know there are times when you may question whether you made the right career choice, or whether society understands the good work you do, or even if that work makes a difference.

I am here to remind you that your work is what I consider to be of paramount importance to society. It may not always feel that way to you, but millions of people have benefited from the work of professional counselors and counselor educators.

Each April, we celebrate Counseling Awareness Month. All of you do so much that we couldn’t have just a week — we needed a whole month! I encourage you to see what ACA is doing on social media and to visit our website at counseling.org for suggestions on what you can do to celebrate this special month. Counseling Awareness Month honors all of you, and it is a time when those to whom you have dedicated your professional life can learn more about what this amazing profession is all about.

Be proud. Toot your own horn. It is OK, really! The more people know about professional counseling, the more people might seek out the services that you and your colleagues provide. Let’s work on removing the stigma some people attach to seeing a mental health professional. Whether you and your colleagues set up a table and hand out literature about counseling in a public area or invite the community to a discussion on a particular issue involving counseling, I say go for it.

I know you work hard. It may be all you can do to see clients and then take care of personal business before it is time to get to bed. But if you can convince your counseling colleagues to pitch in and conduct an activity that promotes the profession, it will be much easier to accomplish this goal.

Here are just a few suggestions you might try during Counseling Awareness Month:

  • Contact your local newspaper, TV station or radio station. Let them know that this is Counselor Awareness Month and that you have a story to tell.
  • Distribute literature at the local shopping mall or library about what professional counseling is and how to find a counselor.
  • Host an evening session that focuses on an issue that counselors address, such as dealing with teens, how to coexist with difficult co-workers, life transitions and so on, at a local school, recreation center, hospital, religious facility or other facility.
  • Gather colleagues and dedicate a day to visiting with your elected officials so they will gain a clearer idea of what professional counselors do, how they are trained and what goes into their preparation. Most important, let them know how their constituents benefit from the work that you do.
  • Honor someone from outside of the profession who has supported counseling services in your community. This is a great way to thank that person and to draw attention to the good work being done by counseling professionals.

If you are able to host a “celebration” during Counseling Awareness Month, let me know what you did. I am always impressed by what you and your colleagues come up with.

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

Be well.