I have to begin this week’s blog entry by explaining that I’m a union gal of old, having become a steward with the Communication Workers of America shortly after beginning my first career in telecommunications. Through those times, as well as in my later phone company years as a manager, I came to understand and respect the give and take that came from having a collective bargaining unit (our union) in assuring that the company’s logical goals of profitability were made with account given to the rights and needs of the workers who were building that profit.
The reality is that labor unions are diminishing in size and power in the U.S. Yet, as I reflect upon this in light of the emerging needs of workers in my current career, counselor education, I find myself pondering words that one of the phone company executives told me at a time when we were closing one of our offices. She told me, “I think we’re going to see a movement back to the era of guilds, in which a profession becomes the keeper of quality and will negotiate with companies accordingly in determining what is produced, and how.”
Applying her words to the profession of counselor education, we, the counselors, are the ones who determine what our profession should look like. As counselors, we know very well that teaching and learning are significantly enhanced by smaller classes, reasonable course loads, and time and funding for faculty research, clinical practice, and professional development. CACREP accreditation standards specify quality standards on these and other important areas. This is of paramount importance at a time in which virtually all universities are making severe budget cuts. Maintaining accreditation means an uncompromising emphasis on quality in counselor education, and by that I wish to emphasize that it also means that we, the workers (counselor educators), will not be exploited in a milieu of fiscal mayhem. While labor unions may never regain the strength of the 20th century, our counseling profession must remember its part in assuring the quality of counselor training, and the educators who provide this.
Stacee Reicherzer is a counselor, a faculty member at Walden University, and a private consultant with special interests that include: transgender issues in counseling, lateral (within-group) marginalization, and sexual abuse survival.