Thelma Duffey, ACA's 64th president
Thelma Duffey, ACA’s 64th president

Greetings, fellow counselors! How time flies when you’re having fun. I can hardly believe that I am writing my final column as ACA president. I write it with the deepest appreciation and optimism for our profession’s future. My time as president has been nothing short of incredible, made more so because of the truly wonderful people with whom I have worked and the notable advances we are making professionally.

As I conclude my time in this role, it is important to underscore what a privilege it is to work with our CEO, Rich Yep, and the ACA staff. I have had a bird’s-eye view of what it takes to support and promote professional counselors and our great profession. I stand here with the utmost respect and gratitude for Rich — from whom I have learned so very much — and our terrific staff. Muchisimas gracias, team!

I began the year encouraging us all to dream big. My dream was to come together around two important initiatives: professional advocacy and social action against bullying and interpersonal violence. I appointed two task forces that have worked diligently, along with countless ACA members nationwide, to make the kind of impact that moves us forward as a profession and creates a better world for those around us.

One year ago, I asked that we make a visible impact. Today, it is clear to me that we have. I feel the impact through the energy and community I experience as I travel throughout the country, most recently at the thriving Connecticut Counseling Association conference, and I see the impact in the form of the tangible resources that our most dedicated task forces are leaving as their legacy. The ACA website will hold a plethora of these resources designed to help practitioners, counselor educators and students everywhere be the professionals and social action advocates we are called to be. I am deeply grateful to the ACA members, staff, state branches, divisions, regions, universities, leadership and partner organizations that have supported this work. We are a village to be proud of!

This has been a historic year, beginning with the ACA Governing Council’s vote to endorse CACREP as the accrediting body for counselors and its vote to advocate equally for all counselors licensed by their states through July 2020. The council’s goal was to ensure that licensed counselors in good standing and those licensed through July 2020 who received their degrees from non-CACREP-accredited programs would not inadvertently be left behind.

There is important work we must continue to do, including a) supporting programs interested in transitioning to CACREP accreditation, b) supporting seasoned counselors as we navigate new terrain and c) keeping students informed about these developments. We must remain purposeful in supporting our Hispanic Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities through this transition. We can do this work best when we come together with a spirit of cooperation and focus on productive possibilities.

Today, we have another historic challenge. We are being called on to uphold our values of nondiscrimination and to defend the ACA Code of Ethics against recent legislation in Tennessee. ACA has long invested in promoting the values of respect and dignity for all people. I encourage us to continue being mindful of our impact on others and to choose, through our words and deeds, to make that impact positive and fruitful.

As I write this column, I am leaving for Ireland, where ACA is partnering with the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy on a two-day conference, and I will conclude my year in Singapore at the second ACA-Asia Pacific Counseling Conference. It is wonderful to know that counselors all over the United States are making a difference. It is also wonderful to know that we are reaching across the waters to connect and expand our possibilities with counselors across the globe.

Thank you for a powerfully meaningful experience. I hope you will always #KnowYourImpact.

Thelma Duffey