Richard Yep, ACA CEO

I have to admit that I love going to the movies. However, over the past several years, I haven’t seen as many as I would like. There are various reasons for this, including simply not making the time, the cost of movie admission and the rise of alternatives such as Netflix and HBO.

Recently, however, I overcame all of those challenges and saw Crazy Rich Asians. I am not a fan of using the word “crazy,” but after seeing the film, I have a better idea of how the title fits. As an Asian American, I could relate to some of the customs, traditions and personalities of the “elders” that were portrayed in the movie, which is one of the first American films to feature Asians in lead roles.

I will admit that as I left the theater, I might have been walking just a smidge taller. I was proud that an Asian American movie director (from my hometown no less) had been able to convince the film industry to support a movie that portrayed Asians as something other than kung fu experts or nerdy scientists who never played the lead role. I was also buoyed by knowing that the film was well-received and financially successful. Despite it being a romantic comedy (and a bit far-fetched at that), I think this movie might actually instill some pride in those who — regardless of whether they are Asian — are not usually assigned such major roles.

All of this made me think about the work that professional counselors perform each and every day with their clients and students. It is all of you who take on real-life roles to help individuals overcome life’s challenges. It is all of you who help countless adolescents, teens, young adults and others to walk a little taller by learning how to cope with the stressors they face and how to take pride in the positive aspects of their lives. You do this, day in and day out, with no expectation of winning an Academy Award. In my book, you all deserve to be walking on the red carpet.

Your selfless work to improve the human condition (one human at a time) is an effort that our communities, our public policymakers and our world should appreciate. I’m also aware, however, that we all need to do a better job of educating people about the important role that professional counselors play in society.

One of our main missions at the American Counseling Association is to provide all of you, as professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students, with the information, resources and training that will help you do your work. Just as important are the efforts we make to promote the profession of counseling so that individuals will understand the benefits of working with you. We do this through our work on Capitol Hill, with state legislatures, through partnerships with other professional and consumer organizations, and with the media.

This month, ACA will be receiving a Summit Award from the American Society of Association Executives. This is the organization’s highest award, presented to associations that can demonstrate how their work impacts local, national and international communities. ACA is being honored for a project that we did in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign. Our goals for this project were to:

  • Improve the mental health support and guidance available to LGBTQ youth
  • Provide professional counselors and other youth workers with knowledge to help them understand the views and experiences of LGBTQ youth
  • Familiarize counselors and youth-serving professionals with specific issues that LGBTQ youth face when embarking on a college or career search

Results showed that of the 600 initial users of the modules we developed:

  • 87 percent felt better equipped to work with LGBTQ clients and students
  • 78 percent felt more comfortable advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ community
  • 75 percent identified more strongly as allies of the LGBTQ community
  • 84 percent better understood LGBTQ issues related to career or college readiness
  • 96 percent thought the module content was important for all professionals working with youth


This project is an example of how ACA is your partner in professionalism. We are in awe of your incredible work and what you do to help clients and students “walk a little taller.”

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or to email me at You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep.

Be well.