5 Post-Conference Reflections from a Future CounselorReflections written by Freedom Cadet, a first-year Mental Health Counseling student at Alfred University.

1. Hope Matters.
Spencer Niles, one of the keynote speakers, spoke about the understated importance of hope in all-things-career. As people who work, he offered connecting with our inner sense of hope as a pathway to reclaiming our souls from work. As career counselors, he introduced the Hope Action Theory as a way to help ground our clients in this important mind-state. Personally, I can see hope as a gateway to higher emotions and opportunities. One of my favorite quotes comes from Fr. Greg Boyle who says “I’ve never met a hopeful kid that joined a gang.” While this may feel extreme for our purposes, it holds so much truth. I’ve never met a hopeful person who made a career choice out of desperation. I’ve never met a hopeful person who stayed stuck in a dead-end job. I’ve never met a hopeful person who couldn't find motivation to grow.

2. Advocacy is for Everyone.

The concluding keynote from Daquanna Harrison was a much-needed reminder that advocating for equitable workplaces is a job for all – across all color lines, across all genders, and across all lines of difference. We need to join together in order to manifest workplaces (and a world!) where everyone has equal access to opportunities.

3. Body-Mind-Career Connections.

 I’ve been following the rise of embodiment practices in mental health counseling and was thrilled to join Judith Garfinkel & Heidi Ravis’s session where they offered somatic practices that career counselors can integrate into client work. What’s a characteristic that you want to embody? Maybe it’s a sense of calm? Confidence? Authority? What would it feel like to embody that trait; to feel it in your body physically? These were a few questions our facilitators posed to the group and I have been contemplating over the last month. In 2024, I’m working to embody a sense of sturdiness.

4. Self-Reflection is Central to all Forward Movement.

 From Spencer Niles’ deep dive into the Hope Action Theory to Anne Scholl-Fiedler’s encouragement to reflect on our strengths in times of transition, it’s clear that self-reflection holds a great deal of power in career counseling. As counselors, the more aware we can be of our personal strengths and weaknesses, the better we are able to serve our clients. The more we know ourselves, the more available we can be to knowing others. And the more skilled we are at self-reflection, the better equipped we are to help support our clients in learning more about themselves.

5. Community Fuels it All.
 It was lovely to witness the familiarity and warmth between conference attendees. At the Thursday night reception, I met a man who has been coming to MACCA conferences for the last decade and told me that the community is what keeps him coming back. It was really touching to hear. Here’s to another 53 years of MACCA conferences!

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