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Finding Pride and Purpose

Jul 1, 2024, 09:17 AM
Title : Finding Pride and Purpose
By line : Christine Suniti Bhat, PhD, LPC, LSC

Greetings ACA members! What a privilege it is to write this column and communicate directly with you. Our members are the reason ACA exists, and I am grateful to each one of you for being counselors and for belonging to ACA and its regions, branches and divisions. 

I joined ACA as a student in 2003 because my professors at Ohio University emphasized active engagement in professional organizations. At that time, I was an immigrant, new to the country, and I found acceptance and belonging in ACA. I was thrilled when I attended my first ACA conference in 2003 in New Orleans and realized I was part of something bigger than I had imagined. 

It was so meaningful to be back in New Orleans this year to take the presidential oath. I hope you too feel a sense of pride in being part of an organization that is invested in OUR profession, in making us stronger and better able to serve the clients or consumers who need our services.  

In this issue, you will learn more about me in the profile feature on page 26, but I also want to share a little more about myself here: I am a counselor educator at Ohio University in beautiful Athens, Ohio, and I love the work I do training and mentoring master’s and doctoral students in counseling. I was born in Bengaluru, India, immigrated to Australia, and then moved to the U.S. in 2000 to start a doctoral program in counselor education and supervision at Ohio University. 

After graduating, I spent three years as a faculty member at California State University before I returned to teach at Ohio University in 2006. I loved my job in California, but I couldn’t afford to live there! I am sure some of you can relate to this as the cost of housing continues to rise. I call India, Australia and the U.S. my homes. I love and appreciate the natural beauty of Southeastern Ohio and the privilege of living in a college town, and I practice gratitude every day. 

I know my year as ACA president will fly by, so I had to be realistic when planning the goals I hope to accomplish this year. My goals are consistent with ACA’s strategic plan and based on feedback I have received from members. Here are three areas I hope to focus on with your support and input:  

  • Children and youth mental health: Consider ways to improve the mental health and wellness of children and adolescents, with a special focus on youth who are marginalized due to race, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, class and other obstacles to thriving. My hope is to highlight the work our members are doing to serve youth during this year so we can learn from them.
  • Evidence-based research: Generate and share meaningful research conducted by counselors for counselors and the public to ensure that we stand on a firm footing of evidence-based practice. This includes both theory development and practice elements that honor the wellness perspective and are rooted in intersectionality.
  • Professional advocacy: Strengthen our professional identity as counselors and continue to advocate for our profession with the help of ACA’s Government Affairs and Public Policy team. Our most recent “win” with Medicare reimbursement would not have been possible without the resources that ACA and committed members poured into advocacy. This is one of the tangible benefits of belonging to ACA.  

We come to this profession because of our desire to do good, our altruism. Walking alongside those who are suffering is fulfilling, and it can be exhilarating when our clients have a breakthrough. But it can also take a personal toll. Please take care of yourself as you care for others.  

Thank you for the work you do! You are important and valued. And thank you to all the ACA staff and volunteer leaders who serve ACA. Let’s have a great and productive year for counseling together!


Christine Suniti Bhat, PhD, LPC, LSC, is the ACA president and a professor of counselor education in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Contact her at cbhat@counseling.org.


Department : From the President
Categories :
  • Business Administration
  • Professional Counseling
Tags :
audiences :
  • Counselors
  • Students

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