Richard Yep, ACA CEO
Richard Yep, ACA CEO

Last month, I asked readers to think about the upcoming elections in the United States, not just for federal offices, but at the local and state levels as well. I didn’t suggest who to vote for, but rather reminded all of you about the important advocacy and services that you provide. My point was that it is important for elected officials and candidates for office to understand and support the good work that professional counselors do each and every day.

To support that point, I suggested that professional counselors review the front pages of newspapers or listen to the lead stories on the evening news and think about how their work could have helped to alleviate the tragedy, horror, pain or strife that were part of those stories. In other words, I suggested that professional counselors should take a moment to realize their incredible worth to society.

Whereas that discussion addressed counselors’ impact on the role of public policy and those elected to create and uphold laws, I now want to look at the importance of civil society and the role of professional counselors in that endeavor. Civil society is simply many groups of people working together toward a positive outcome for the entire community. As a recognized nongovernmental organization, the American Counseling Association works with the United Nations on global issues of importance to civil society. At the local level, the work of professional counselors and counselor educators can be a key element in the promotion, enhancement and advancement of civil society.

Although many of you engage in one-on-one work, you are also an important part of bringing together society so that we can collectively improve the lives of many people. How might you make that happen? Part of the solution involves outreach with your professional colleagues and community-based groups. Communicate with those who share common concerns, and help to educate those who do not share our views. If we find common ground and work toward solutions, we will continue to improve society.

I realize these are not easy tasks. Then again, being a professional counselor is not an easy job. However, the reward for working as an active contributor toward civil society is something that cannot be understated.

I know most of you have precious little “extra” time to devote to anything other than your clients and students. I also know that to become a more just, open and inclusive society, we must all use our respective talents to make our communities that much better. We need to overcome the discrimination and oppression that many people now face. We can do that only by working together — yes, perhaps at the public policy level, but to have an even greater impact, with those who share our belief in civil society.

As we head into October and the final months of 2016, it represents much more than a time when we see the leaves turn and the seasons change. I believe that what transpires over the next few months will be critical to ensuring that professional counselors have the support necessary to meet the needs of their clients and students. I encourage you to be aware of what is happening in the profession and the world at large. From there, figure out how your role in civil society can have the greatest impact on those for whom you advocate.

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

Be well.