Gerald Corey, EdD, ABPP

Gerald Corey, EdD, ABPP

Author, Consultant, Counselor Educator, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Counseling

University of Holy Cross

Member Since 1979

ACA is a community of diverse, vibrant counselors and educators who are changing lives and the world at large. Gerald Corey has been a member of ACA for 45 years, and believes counselors have a vital role to play in social justice work.

What is the biggest challenge facing the mental health field today?

One challenge facing the profession since the COVID-19 pandemic is the increasing demand for mental health professionals in providing services to the many who are coping with anxiety, depression, and connection with others. There are no easy answers, yet counseling professionals have the task of assisting people in discovering their inner resources and building on their strengths in dealing with stress and traumatic events. Counselors have a major challenge is carrying out social justice work, especially helping people who suffer from racism, discrimination, and oppression. The socio-political climate in society today cannot be ignored by counselors, and each of us can take even small steps in addressing the pressing issues that divide us in our society today.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about counseling?

A misconception people often have is that the counselor is the expert who can fix a client’s problems. While counselors have expertise in interventions, their clients are the experts on their own life. The theory counselors operate from and the techniques they employ in the counseling process are important, but the most important factor in successful counseling rests upon counselors creating a safe climate and in establishing a solid relationship with clients. It is the human connection that most helps people who are struggling with existential issues in their life.

What role do you think counseling plays in the delivery of mental health services in today's society?

Counseling plays a vital role in the delivery of psychological services in society. There are limits to what can be accomplished with an individual in the office setting. I would hope that counselors think about ways they can be influential by going outside the office. Communities need healing when they are trying to cope with a traumatic event, such as a mass shooting or a natural disaster. Counselors are challenged to think creatively in intervening with small groups within the community. I hope that counselors see how they have a key role to play in empowering individuals in a community to use the resources they already possess in bringing about change.

What do you do to take care of yourself and rejuvenate?

I began my career as a high school counselor in 1961 and am still active as a counselor educator and author in 2023. I am fortunate to be in good health and able to be professionally involved at age 86. To me, self-care is not merely a luxury, but it is an ethical mandate. It would not be possible for me to remain productive in my teaching and writing if I had not taken care of myself over many decades. I place great value on spending some time in nature and engaging in physical exercise every day. I often tell my students that developing a plan for self-care must be one they design for themselves. There is no right way to take care of ourselves, rather we must assess what we are doing, what is working for us, and what changes we might want to make to live more effectively. During my mid-life career I was doing everything I wanted to do professionally, but I had to learn how to manage stress. I realized stress controls me or I control stress. Although I greatly enjoyed all the phases of my career and found most aspects of my work to be rewarding, I had to accept the fact that I could not do everything that I was doing. I realized that I needed to take time to reflect on the commitments I already had before taking on additional responsibilities. I recognized that everything I was doing took time and energy. I had the difficult task of learning to say “no” to some interesting projects. I frequently had to remind myself that I am one person with limited time, and I could not do everything I might have wanted to do. A message I send to my students is that if they are not taking care of themselves, that eventually they are likely to experience burnout, and if they do not attend to symptoms of burnout, this will result in their becoming an impaired counselor. My hope is that they realize that if they are taking care of themselves, they will be best able to take care of those who are receiving their services. My colleagues (Michelle Muratori, Jude Austin, and Julius Austin) and I recently published the second edition of our ACA book, Counselor Self-Care (2024). This book goes into detail about ways that we each work at keeping ourselves vital both personally and professionally.

What outside of counseling brings you joy? Tell us about your hobbies or outside interests.

My wife and colleague, Marianne, often joins me in hiking on a mountain trail and riding our bicycles. I love walking on a mountain trail and bike riding (and no E-bike)! I engage in bike riding or walking (and often both) each day. I get joy walking on a creek trail by our house and seeing the lovely fall leaves along the trail. I enjoy watching the sunset from my balcony. It is fun to give my grandchildren a ride in my 1931 Model A Ford and seeing people on our route giving us “thumbs up” when they see this vintage car with young people in the rear rumble seat. We often attend concerts, and we have season tickets to a series of symphony performances. Spending time with good friends and family is another source of enjoyment.

If you’d like to share how ACA membership or participation has helped you along your career journey, please do!

It was around 1979 that I became an ACA member and since that time I have attended every ACA counseling conference up to the upcoming 2024 conference in New Orleans. This had not been a duty, but a connection that I value. In my 60-year professional career, one of the most enjoyable and beneficial aspects are the relationships that I have cultivated with my many colleagues. Working with colleagues, whether it is in giving presentations or workshops at conferences or engaging in writing projects, keeps me curious and is a way to engage in lifelong learning. At these ACA conferences I meet many graduate students and counseling professionals and these contacts are a source of vitality. I encourage my students to join ACA, to read the Counseling Today journal each month, and to attend a conference in person or virtually. I do not see the work of a counselor as a solo endeavor, rather I view our work as getting involved in teamwork.