Richard Yep, ACA CEO
Richard Yep, ACA CEO

Anger is sometimes an important emotion because it results in taking action to protect yourself and your family, friends, students or clients. For example, anger over some policy or act of evil can bring people together to make changes in society or local communities that result in a safe and caring environment. At other times, anger can create even more trouble, danger or harm. Clearly, anger has many faces.

In the United States, we are finally nearing the conclusion of a long, nasty national election cycle. This column is not about the candidates running for office. It is not an endorsement of any person, political party or campaign. Being involved in campaigns, supporting the party with which you best align and exercising the right to vote are all privileges provided to U.S. citizens. In fact, if you have earned the right to vote, I really hope you will utilize that important privilege.

But this column is about anger. During my lifetime, 15 U.S. presidential elections have taken place. I have been eligible to vote in 10 of those elections, but I probably began to really understand what candidates, issues and campaigns were about in 1968. Looking back, it is hard to remember an election cycle with as much vitriol and negativity as the current one. Contributing to this environment are the “always on” news channels, the ability to reach voters through social media at all hours and the ways that pundits “one-up” each other for ratings (not to mention what the candidates and their surrogates have said … and tweeted). I believe this election will go down as one of the most mean-spirited in our nation’s history.

Regardless of which individuals or groups are responsible for reaching this all-time low, is this really the best that we can do? What messages are we sending to those who will be adult voters for the next 15 national elections? What permission are we giving to children and adolescents to say things like the boy seen on television yelling, “Take that b—- down!” at a candidate rally he was brought to by his mother? The parent then tried to explain this away by saying, “Children are children.” Huh?

I’m all for allowing children to understand and value the rights they have as U.S. citizens. However, I also feel strongly about the importance of parents, counselors, mentors and other adults helping to shape these young people who will one day govern, lead and participate in the type of world society that we envision.

Next month, ACA members begin voting for those who will lead the association and its divisions and regions. Just imagine if the election for ACA president-elect sunk to the depths of what we have witnessed in this country for the past 18 months. We have three ACA president-elect candidates who have earned the right to run. Thankfully, they are respectful of one another and have engaged in professional discussions as they articulated their visions for the counseling profession. Wouldn’t it be nice if this type of behavior, civility and respect were hallmarks of our U.S. presidential campaigns?

Let’s all think about the message we want to share with our young people. I encourage you to use your considerable skills as professional counselors and counselor educators to help clients and students understand the meaning and uselessness of the anger generated during the presidential campaigns. The work you do is so incredibly important for our nation and (without exaggeration) our world that I hope you will recommit yourselves to creating a positive, caring, respectful and compassionate society.

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.




RELATED READING: See Counseling Today‘s article “Vote against anxiety: Managing 2016 election stress


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