Richard Yep, ACA CEO
Richard Yep, ACA CEO

Last month, I asked ACA members to enter a drawing by sharing their thoughts on the following question: What do you find most meaningful as a professional counselor or counselor educator? I thank all of you who chose to respond.

The answers I received were from a cross section of our members, including those who are just starting out in their careers, some who have been practicing for quite some time and others who chose professional counseling as a second career. I was overwhelmed by the number of counselors who participated. In addition, your answers were poignant, touching, meaningful and inspirational.

I have to believe that the motivation for participating went beyond simply entering a drawing. Rather, I think that those who provided answers wanted to share their thoughts with you, their colleagues.

As we close out the calendar year, I thought it would be nice to reflect on the ways many of you have worked so hard to make an impact in the lives of your clients, students and communities. Here are some select snippets I received in response to the question I posed in last month’s column.

“Most meaningful to me is giving those who come to me for counseling the opportunity to tell their story. I believe in the power of words as medicine, and I am proud and humbled to have the opportunity to share in this healing.”

“I also am still amazed sometimes at that moment when the light comes on in a client’s head. I think I live for those moments. It does not happen every time of course. For some it is not so dramatic. But I love it when someone looks up and you can see the transformation. It is humbling as well to realize people are trusting us with their most vulnerable feelings and experiences.”

“I have found that the most meaningful thing that you can have in your life as a trained counselor is your own locus of control. … It is important as a counselor to know how to build your energy. I see a lot of people who are depleting their energy and not taking the time to rest and rebuild their reserves. My locus of control allows me to know my limits and when to say ‘no’ when I need to.”

“What I find most meaningful as a professional counselor is —

  • When the client makes the choice not to cut or consider suicide as an option and learns how to use his or her anger and pain constructively.
  • When the parents finally see the results of their commitment to consistent, positive discipline and healthy communication and start to enjoy being a family again.
  • When that boy in the group who is usually sarcastic or detached shares his story and makes a connection between past trauma and present dysfunctional beliefs.
  • When the client is comfortable sharing his or her true thoughts because they know I don’t judge.

There are many more meaningful moments like these, but in the end, the most meaningful part of being a professional counselor is when clients finally reach the point where they can truly say, ‘Thanks for your help, but I don’t need you anymore.’”

“I find it most meaningful to continue to educate and train future counselors. Each student who graduates goes forth to advocate, mentor, counsel and assist individuals, couples and families in the community we live in. I also find it especially timely to train students not just in advocacy and social justice, but in disaster response.”

I hope you will all enjoy this winter season and take the time as we close out another year to reflect on your good work and the impact you have made. I also hope that you take some time for self-care and personal enjoyment.

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

Be well.