Robert L. Smith, Ph.D., ACA 63rd President
Robert L. Smith, Ph.D., ACA 63rd President

The tenure for the president of the American Counseling Association is one year. In addition, there is a year as president-elect and a year as past president. The presidential year moves at a rapid pace, being filled with numerous responsibilities, opportunities and challenges. This has been true for me, already at the halfway mark of my tenure. Opportunities to meet with ACA members and emerging leaders have been rewarding and memorable. Opportunities to speak at state, national and international conferences have been energizing and enjoyable. Even problem-solving meetings to address our challenges have been stimulating at times.

Throughout these first six months, intentional collaboration, a concept that works well and pays dividends, has been emphasized. Branch, division and region leaders, along with committee chairs, have also embraced this theme. Continuing on this path will lead to positive outcomes.

Several projects and plans are in place, including:

  • Investment projects that fund divisions, branches and regions to build membership and collaborate with ACA
  • Task forces examining efficient ACA governance models that would allow opportunities for entry of new interest groups and organizations
  • An ACA international/global conference planned for 2015
  • Establishment of collaborative behavioral counseling networks
  • Groundwork for an ACA international research and dissemination center

I am confident these projects will see completion in the next six months. However, while addressing current challenges and completing innovative projects, we also need to look toward the more distant future. Embedded in keynote presentations, I have been sharing a vision for counseling and the counseling profession as it might one day be described in various media accounts. Enjoy this look at potential future “news coverage” of the counseling profession.

Newsweek: “Counselors are playing a major role not only in increasing the confidence and competence of students at the elementary and secondary school levels in the areas of math and science; they are also seeing their innovative programs increase the number of young people selecting careers in the in-demand areas of science, technology, engineering and math.”

USA Today: “The research center at the American Counseling Association has identified a set of evidence-based practices that interrupt the pathways to clinical depression. In other words, stopping depression before it starts.”

Military news reports: “The U.S. military reported its finding from the Veterans Affairs office today. The report cites the effectiveness of licensed professional counselors (LPCs) who have been working with military personnel. LPCs with specialized training have been able to effectively diagnose legitimate cases of PTSD and mitigate symptoms of those experiencing trauma by using brief therapeutic interventions.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Several mental health professional groups are working feverishly to keep up with the changes made by the American Counseling Association’s revised Code of Ethics. ACA brings a fresh look at ethical issues by focusing on the use of technology, and particularly the infusion of social media. The ACA Code of Ethics is a model for other mental health groups.”

The New England Journal of Medicine: “The medical society recently adopted several practices from the research center of the American Counseling Association on methods to empower patients experiencing serious medical problems. A number of medical schools are now infusing the ACA recommendations into their training programs.”

USA Today: “Job satisfaction has taken on a new twist, as the research center at the American Counseling Association and the National Career Development Association have discovered by identifying the six most salient factors indicating moderate to high levels of job satisfaction by today’s workers, and three mega factors that determine whether a high level of job satisfaction will be retained.”

We have the potential to turn all of the examples above into reality because the counseling profession and counselors ROCK.

Be well,

Robert L. Smith, Ph.D.

Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education and career goals.