Looking ahead to both challenges and opportunities helps prepare us for what the future may bring. It is an activity that can be done either formally or informally, but what we know is that if we don’t look

Richard Yep, ACA CEO
Richard Yep, ACA CEO

ahead, we can lose control of our destiny or, in this case, that of the counseling profession. Here are some past activities that attempted to “look ahead.”

Nearly 10 years ago, ACA and the American Association of State Counseling Boards entered into a partnership to co-sponsor a project called 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling. This initiative would grow to encompass 31 organizations representing the counseling profession. The group came together to engage in a long-term, strategic view of the profession. Out of this effort grew a current project focused on the building blocks to licensure portability.

This past summer, the ACA Governing Council embarked on its latest strategic planning process that will help shape the association and its offerings to members over the next several years.

Last month, the ACA staff began a “heavy lift” of integrating a number of program goals that will align strategically with what the volunteer leadership and our members have indicated they need from us.

It wasn’t so long ago that when we talked about the year 2020, it still seemed so far away — almost like we were thinking about life with the Jetsons. (Did I just date myself by using that reference? Millennials — you can Google that word to find out what I meant).

The year 2020 is now less than five years away. Given that we need to look beyond five years to prepare ourselves for the rapid changes taking place in society, I want to ask each of you a favor. An eye doctor would say that 20/20 qualifies as very good vision, 20/30 offers a little less clarity, 20/40 even less so and 20/50 certainly needs some type of corrective lens. So, if I asked you what the counseling profession will “look like” in 2050, you would need to rely on some educated guesses, especially in comparison with your projected picture of counseling in 2020.

In 2050, a majority of the graduate students currently in counselor education will be in their late 50s and early 60s. Those who are currently midcareer will be collecting Social Security or some type of pension. And those who are currently retired might be part of one of our fastest-growing population segments — those who are 100 or older. By 2050, the United States is projected to have at least 6 million centenarians.

So, I am interested in what you think both society and the counseling profession will be like in 2050. Just jot down your thoughts and send them my way via Twitter (@Richyep), email (ryep@counseling.org) or the “old-fashioned” way (a letter to 6101 Stevenson Ave., Suite 600, Alexandria, VA 22304). You can also call me at 800.347.6647 ext. 231. I will read (or listen to) whatever you send and hope to summarize things in a future column.

With all that you do for clients, students and your communities, I know you don’t always have time to think about what might be happening next week, much less 35 years from now. But I also think it is important to look forward (way forward in this case). Not so much to predict the specifics of the future, but to realize that with so much change, we need to be adaptable and nimble so that the counseling profession can remain viable, and even thrive, by meeting the needs of clients and students in 2050.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts.

Be well.