From the President

From the President: Decolonizing and reshaping the profession

October 2023

The intent of this column is for me to keep you informed about the activities that the American Counseling Association is doing for its members. Last month, we had our first face-to-face meeting of the Governing Council since I became president, and we are making progress with our reorganization — which includes developing a strategic framework and establishing a solid diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) road map for ACA — and the plans for our upcoming conferences. Before we continue the work toward decolonization and decoloniality of counseling, we first need to establish our profession at the head of the table when these conversations occur in the mental health field. We must understand that decolonization and decoloniality represent distinct yet intertwined concepts in the quest to redefine power dynamics and cultural paradigms. Decolonization primarily pertains to the historical process of former colonized nations gaining political independence from colonial powers. It encapsulates the struggle for self-determination and the dismantling of colonial structures. In contrast, decoloniality extends beyond political liberation, delving into the complexities of knowledge, culture and identity. It questions the prevailing Eurocentric frameworks that have perpetuated hierarchies and marginalization. Decoloniality emphasizes the need to reshape academic, cultural and societal narratives to enable diverse perspectives to flourish. Decolonization addresses political sovereignty, whereas decoloniality focuses on epistemic and cultural sovereignty. Both concepts, however, challenge dominant narratives and oppressive systems. Decolonization creates space for decoloniality to flourish, as true liberation requires reshaping political structures and the foundations of thought and culture. Together they form an interconnected journey toward a more inclusive and equitable world. All these concepts and structures are the guidance, or road map, for the present and future of our profession. Our decolonization process began when we started developing a solid strategic framework that includes a strong DEI base and a realistic governing board. At the same time, the decoloniality process will allow us to reshape our professional identity and continue to use existing knowledge to gain a better understanding on how to become more effective counselors in our areas of specialty.

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