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

What is happening in Orlando, Florida, March 12-15? It’s the 63rd annual American Counseling Association Conference & Expo. I hope you are planning to be there. If you haven’t made your plans to participate, it’s still not too late. This year’s conference could be one of the best ever with a wide range of content programs, excellent keynote speakers, career enhancement opportunities and serious networking, all in an inviting setting where you can have fun in the sun.

During an earlier time, I was mentored by professors and colleagues who strongly encouraged me to attend and actively participate at state and national conferences. Since the 1970s when I was in graduate school, I have not missed an ACA annual conference. As a new professional, I tried to present as many times as possible at each conference I attended, whether state or national. It wasn’t unusual in those days to present four or five content programs because there were no limits on the number of times you could present. All of the conferences have been memorable for me. I have experienced great debates between the giants in our field, sung along with Albert Ellis and a thousand others to songs such as “Cry, Cry, Cry,” “Poor Me” and “Nobody Loves Me,” and met with colleagues from across the country.

I hope you will be intentional in your plans at the conference as you select from:

  • Attending a number of content and poster sessions covering the most salient topics in our profession
  • Enjoying informal meetings and gatherings with colleagues and friends from across the country
  • Meeting employers who are interested in talking with and hiring counseling practitioners and counselor educators
  • Gaining insight into clinical mental health and suicide issues as presented in a keynote address
  • Examining in depth the importance of the relationship in counseling and why it is considered one of the pillars of the profession
  • Meeting a diverse group of professionals at receptions and between sessions
  • Visiting and relaxing at the expo center while meeting with publishers and other exhibitors
  • Attending division, region, branch and interest group membership and business meetings
  • Going to planned events in Orlando, including at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and other recreation venues
  • Attending the First Timer’s Orientation and Reception

The keynote address topics will highlight what we do as professional counselors and emphasize the significance of the relationship in all of our work. Mariel Hemingway, a scintillating presenter, author, actress and wellness advocate, will talk from the heart about mental health and suicide. You do not want to miss her opening keynote. Neither will you want to miss the Saturday keynote on the power of the relationship. This will be a meaningful and fun address by two outstanding speakers, Richard Balkin and Jeffrey Kottler.

The bullet points above are just a few of the options available to you at ACA’s 63rd annual conference. Because there are so many options, you will need to plan wisely. Please be intentional in meeting and collaborating with colleagues and friends, whether it is for work, play or both. I look forward to attending this year’s conference and expo and seeing you in Orlando.

Take care,

Robert L. Smith, Ph.D., NCC

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