ACES Antiracism Statement
Greetings ACES Members,
In response to ongoing attacks on Counseling programs with social justice and anti-racism missions, it is important that the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) publicly state that the organization and their membership stands behind counselor education programs who unapologetically value diversity, equity, and inclusion and stand proud in our pursuit for mental health and wellness for all. This includes programs that teach critical race theory, promote trans affirmative care, practice anti oppression, and honor mental liberation for all.
In recent months, individuals and organized groups have disseminated misinformed racist and transphobic rhetoric that equates social justice with political ideology; this misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the core components of social justice have been primarily promulgated for personal or political gain, attacking counselors and their educators. At the heart, however, is the desire to maintain the status quo in a system that provides power to some through oppression of the rights, access, participation, and value of others. As counselors, we recognize that there is no “political center” when the experience, value, rights, and existence of any individual, or group is negated through oppressive language, acts, and policy enacted by others. Valuing the experience of diverse individuals is not “wokeness”, but rather a basic tenet of our ethical responsibility as counselors.
It is a responsibility to honor diversity, embrace multicultural lived experiences, and to engage in actions that foster autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice, fidelity, and veracity for all. An ethical charge to engage in practices that support, empower, and provide liberation to those harmed by oppressive systems and policies: this is the heart of what we do and who we are as counselors, educators, supervisors, and researchers.
Social justice and advocacy, one of the foundational pillars of counseling, calls on us to honor and foster human dignity. Social Justice counseling approach allows the professional to trust the client to produce the tools and energy that may lead to liberation and mental wellness. Further, utilizing the virtues of oppressed people’s tools and arts that have been used to cope with oppressive circumstances for generations, and transforms them for use as an indispensable tool for liberation.
ACES stands collectively with our colleagues as they work in service to these ideals with their students, communities, and professional colleagues. We applaud their dedication to social justice and advocacy counseling, multicultural content, antiracist approaches, and gender-affirming care. We commend the counselor educators of these programs for their commitment to social justice and the liberation of all peoples.
The mission of ACES is to enhance the practice of professional counseling through the promotion of culturally relevant and effective counselor education and supervision. As we confront a mental health epidemic in a climate of polarized and often hostile discourse, our responsibility as a collective voice is an advocacy for equal rights and equitable opportunities. This is our professional mission, and across the diverse landscape of our profession the people they serve, it is our hope that as a singular voice, and with a unified spirit, the better angels in all of us might ascend.
As we navigate these trying times around the world, let us not give up on hope. Desmond Tutu stated ““Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” In hope we can find community, and in community we can find hope. ACES invites all of us to be bound in our hope as a community of Counselor Educators, Students, and Supervisors, and continue on the movement of radical love and empathy with all humans.
In coming months, ACES will be adopting a Diversity Inclusion Equity and Justice (DIEJ) statement, adding the position of Member at Large for DIEJ to the Executive Committee, and awarding an inaugural DIEJ award.
The ACES Presidential Trio