From the President
From the President's Desk - July 25, 2020
Greetings OCA Members and counseling constituents! I hope you are doing well and staying safe during these unprecedented times. As the current president of the Ohio Counseling Association (OCA), I am humbled and enthusiastic about this time in our history along with the progress being made by counselors in Ohio. In my first address as president, I would like to take this opportunity to contextualize my thoughts about the state of affairs in Ohio, the US, and the world because what we accomplish locally has global implications.
On June 1st of this year, our immediate past president of OCA Dr. Martina Moore provided her reactions to the death of George Floyd. I want to thank Martina for her eloquent and sincere words. Her leadership in Ohio has been admirable and selfless. I too have been reflective since the death of George Floyd and the instances that have occurred in the time following. I share the burden of professionalism that Martina talked about by putting my own feelings aside to care for my students and clients. However, when I am alone, my thoughts travel to three things.
First, as a faculty member at Kent State University, I am frequently reminded of the May 4th, 1970 shootings where members of the National Guard shot and wounded KSU students who were protesting the Vietnam War. For the past two years, I have led a support group consisting of witnesses to that shooting. In this group, I continually hear recollections of trauma, survivor guilt, and fear of those in power. Even after 50 years, the impact and devastation of the May 4th shootings are prevalent. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, the peaceful and not so peaceful protests remind me of the long-standing history of protests in America. We have the right of freedom of speech, standing up for what is right and what is needed, and the courage it takes to come together for a cause.
Second, I am reminiscent of a speech that President Obama delivered as a eulogy for Senator Clementa Pinckney. Senator Pickney was one of the nine church members who was shot on June 17, 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in a racist act of violence. At his funeral, President Obama talked about grace and standing up for what you believe. He talked about the racial injustices and civil rights battles that have long played a role in American history. President Obama, while talking about changing the history of racism said, “it would be a disgrace if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again”.
Lastly, I reflect on something that happened this week. I teach an internship class for Clinical Mental Health Counseling students at Kent State. One of my students (a Caucasian male counselor) shared that he had a difficult conversation with one of his clients (an African American, male teen). The client asked him “how can I trust you? You’re White and I’m not”. My student was not surprised by this question but also did not really know to how to respond. He then proceeded to say to the client something like “your right, I am not sure how you can trust me; but I want to work on it together”. They began talking about race openly and by the end of the session, the client agreed to come back next week.
My three reflections have a common message. One of advocacy, grace, and hope. While feelings of disgust, distrust, discrimination, hate, and privilege still go on; we in the counseling profession can be beacons of advocacy. Leaders in providing realistic hope when times might be filled with hopelessness. We can also be stewards of grace in a world that needs graceful action. I am not naïve in the difficult road ahead of us, but I am proud and hopeful of the impact the counseling profession can make on future inequalities. In light of the death of George Floyd, President Obama’s vision of not slipping into comfortable silence, honoring the legacy of protesting, and following in the footsteps of Representative John Lewis (a monumental figure in civil rights) who recently passed; we (counselors) can be influential in graceful social change.
To that end, and after much effort from many individuals in OCA, we have spearheaded and secured support from Governor Mike DeWine that July is deemed Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Unfortunately, this proclamation came quickly without time for planning due respect to this accomplishment. In an effort to ensure that social justice, diversity, and inclusion are not just fleeting thoughts, OCA leadership will be providing tangible events and opportunities throughout the year to increase minority mental health awareness and access to equitable services. I am so happy that the OCA president-elect Dr. DoHee Kim-Appel is going to lead an initiative to put action to this accomplishment and set the groundwork so that the longevity of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month will be established. My hope is that OCA will be a role model to other counseling associations in providing impactful, relevant, and significant diversity initiatives.
2020 has provided counselors with many twists in reality and the COVID-19 pandemic certainly is amongst the most impactful twists. As counselors we support our clients, mend fears and attempt to provide a sense of calm to our co-workers, students, supervisees, and others. We are keenly aware that the pandemic has changed how we practice but we are also aware that it has changed society. It has impacted suicidality, relationships, substance use, and the shared existential fear of our own safety. The leadership at OCA has been working diligently on keeping up with legislative, advocacy, and various professional matters related to the pandemic. We have also been trying to plan for the All Ohio Counselors Conference; which is difficult because we don’t know what Ohio will look like in a few months. I will say that we WILL have a conference! It might be face-to-face with augmented virtual components, all virtual, or something else that provides safety to those who attend. There are several pre-conference workshops and educational sessions throughout the conference on how to navigate counseling practice in a pandemic. No matter what the conference will look like, we will continue to uphold the longstanding tradition of offering a quality conference that will benefit counselors throughout Ohio.
In closing, my first few weeks of OCA president has begun with an assessment of OCA branch and division leaders to see not only what they need but what are the needs of their members. While their needs are diverse, one common thread is that OCA needs to provide members more. That is my major initiative this year – providing a bigger presence of OCA and providing more member services. You will see this year a greater social media presence, more events and networking opportunities, and a greater amount of communication coming from OCA. Podcasts, social media posts, and e-mails are certainly to come. But I also want to convey the message that I am a fairly transparent leader. I welcome members to contact me ask questions and provide input. I look forward to working with you and I am honored to be your president.
Cheers & Grace,
Jason M. McGlothlin, Ph.D., LPCC-S
For an overview of the May 4th, 1970 shootings at Kent State University please go to:
For the complete eulogy by President Obama please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9IGyidtfGI
Past Presidents of the OCA