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M aking an optimal career choice has been and remains one of the
major objectives of career counseling. Over time, career counseling
has broadened its scope and purposes to include career transitions of adults
who make multiple career choices over the life span. In contemporary
society, workers are to be lifelong learners, be prepared to make changes,
adapt to new and different circumstances, and learn what happens in one life
role affects others. Within this framework, helpers are to address all con-
cerns clients bring to counseling. In essence, current practices in career coun-
seling have become very inclusive. Helpers are not simply dealing with static
states of human behavior but ever more with complex personenvironment
interactions that require sophisticated adaptive systems. The current interest
in the relationship between career development and mental health is an
example of a growing awareness that human development is multidimen-
sional and multifaceted. Thus, career development can be both continuous
and discontinuous. Current practices in career counseling therefore address
the needs of the whole person.
This chapter focuses on current career counseling models developed from
theoretical orientations of career development theories. The primary con-
cerns in this chapter are major components of models such as the intake
interview, use of assessment results, and effective interventions. First, how-
ever, a learning theory model of career counseling, adapted from Krumboltz
and Sorensen (1974) and Mitchell and Krumboltz (1996), is presented in its
entirety to provide an example of stages in the career counseling process.
This model is representative of current career counseling practices that are
very inclusive. This model not only includes the traditional concerns of inter-
ests, values, and personality variables but also focuses on career beliefs and
obstacles, family life, emotional instability, and cognitive clarity. One should
not be surprised to learn that current career counseling models have compo-
nents similar to those used in personal problem counseling. As I discuss com-
ponents of models, however, the content of the parameters of career
counseling will clearly focus on the career choice process. Included in the dis-
cussion are some methods to address barriers that constrain career choice.
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38 PART I CAREER COUNSELING PERSPECTIVES
A Learning Theory of Career Counseling _______________
The learning theory model of career counseling includes the following seven
Stage 1: Interview
a. The clientcounselor relationship is established.
b. The client is asked to make a commitment to the time needed for
c. Insightful and positive client responses are reinforced.
d. The helper and client focus on all career problems; family life; environ-
mental influences; emotional instability; career beliefs and obstacles; and
traditional career domains of skills, interests, values, and personality.
e. The client is helped in the formulation of tentative goals.
Stage 2: Assessment
a. Objective assessment instruments are used as a means of providing
links to learning interventions.
b. Subjective assessment attempts to attain the accuracy and coherence
of the client's information system and to identify the client's core
goals and faulty or unrealistic strategies to reach goals.
c. Beliefs and behaviors that typically cause problems are evaluated by
using an inventory designed for this purpose.
Stage 3: Generate Activities
a. Clients are directed to individualized projects, such as completing
another assessment instrument or reviewing audiovisual materials, com-
puter programs, and/or occupational literature.
b. Some clients may be directed to counseling programs that address per-
sonal problems or lack of cognitive clarity.
Stage 4: Collect Information
a. Potential intervention strategies are discussed.
b. Individual goals, including newly developed ones, are discussed.
c. A format for previewing an occupation is presented.
d. Clients commit to information gathering by making a job site visit or
using computerized materials.
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Chapter 3 Career Counseling Practices 39
Stage 5: Share Information and Estimate Consequences
a. The client's difficulty in processing information is evaluated.
b. The client's faulty strategies in decision processing are evaluated.
c. Helpers and clients develop remedial interventions.
d. Clients may be directed to collect more information or recycle within
the counseling model before moving to the next step.
Stage 6: Reevaluate, Decide Tentatively, or Recycle
a. Possibilities of success in specific kinds of occupations are discussed.
b. The helper provides the stimulus for firming up a decision for further
exploration of a career, or for changing direction and going back to
previous steps in making a decision.
Stage 7: Job Search Strategies
a. Client intervention strategies can include using study materials, learn-
ing to do an interview or write a resume, join a job club, role play, or
participate in simulation exercises designed to teach the consequences
of making life decisions. Concepts of career life planning are introduced,
along with how decision-making techniques that have been learned
can be used in future decisions.
The stages in this model suggest a progressive agenda that begins with
establishing a working consensus relationship with the client before engag-
ing in the process of gathering background information. Clients are active
participants in the counseling process. Problem identification focuses on
educational deficits that are considered as limiting the occupations one con-
siders in the career choice process. The client and counselor address this issue
by developing a learning plan that includes specific learning activities and a
means of evaluating progress. Faulty beliefs and negative thinking that inter-
fere with one's ability to think rationally and make optimal career deci-
sions are aggressively addressed. Clients learn how to reframe their thinking
process from negative thoughts to more positive ones. This model endorses
the rationale that the way individuals view themselves and the world around
them greatly influences what they believe about themselves. In addition, the
learning model, along with other models discussed in Zunker (2006),
focuses on the ability to process information, make rational decisions,
increase one's self knowledge, and introduce career information resources
and decision-making skills.
Interventions can take many forms; for instance, the client and counselor
select appropriate assessment instruments for identifying specific needs. Some
clients may be assigned to a computerized career information system to
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40 PART I CAREER COUNSELING PERSPECTIVES
broaden their scope of occupational choices, while other clients may join a
group who are exchanging career information or discussing career decision-
making skills. Some clients may be assigned to a counselor who specializes
in cognitive restructuring. These few examples of intervention strategies
make the relevant point: Intervention components address a multitude of
individual needs. Further discussion of career counseling procedures that
have evolved from career development theories, along with the use of
example cases, have been provided by Sharf (2002), Swanson and Fouad
(1999), and Zunker (2006).
The differences between counseling components developed from different
theoretical orientations reflect somewhat of a different emphasis in the use
of assessment, diagnostic procedures, and intervention components. The
trait-oriented theories are considered to focus on a differential approach,
which emphasizes matching occupational requirements with client traits or
values, interests, personality, and aptitudes. The developmental approaches
promote tasks that are used to move the client through a series of develop-
mental stages. The social learning and cognitive theories are labeled as
reinforcement-based approaches to career (Osipow, 1990) and, as such,
focus on how social learning is reinforced and influences self-perceptions
and one's worldview. Differential, developmental, and reinforcement-based
approaches also have distinct similarities, as one would expect considering
the major goal of all theories is an optimal career decision. Within the prac-
tice of career development, helpers have also been known to use technical
eclecticism in order to meet the needs of their clients; interventions used in
different career counseling models are selected on the basis of individual con-
cerns. Thus, helpers should be committed to making an in-depth analysis of
other model components. Keeping this recommendation in mind, the
remainder of this chapter is devoted to counseling suggestions that have
evolved from career development theories presented in Chapter 2. The fol-
lowing discussions focus on the intake interview and problem identification,
use of assessment, and other intervention strategies. Less emphasis will be
placed on the theoretical orientations of counseling techniques. The reader
should be able to recognize theoretical orientations of some of the suggested
interventions and strategies. For example, even though almost all career
counseling models have an assessment component, the use of assessment
results may vary. As mentioned in Chapter 2, career development theories
offer some different approaches to career counseling, but all have contributed
to current career counseling models.
Intake Interview ____________________________________
In most counseling models the intake interview is used to collect background
information, such as social history; educational level; work history; family
information; behavioral problems; affect; medical history; and, in the case of
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Chapter 3 Career Counseling Practices 41
career counseling, problems that can interfere with career choice. Presenting
problems in all helping situations are carefully evaluated. The sequence and
content of the intake interview usually follow the outline listed below. Be
aware, however, that one should be thoroughly trained in interview techniques
that include appropriate communication skills for all clients including mul-
ticultural groups. Helpers should also be aware of the many suggestions and
specific techniques for interviewing multicultural groups provided by Ivey
and Ivey (2003), Okun (2002), and Zunker (2006).
1. Background information
This information can be attained through a structured form that
the client is to fill out and discuss with the helper, or it can be
obtained through a face-to-face opening session.
2. Presenting problems (the reasons given by the client for coming to
3. Current status information (affect, mood, and attitude)
4. Health and medical information (including substance abuse)
5. Family information
6. Social/developmental history
7. Life roles (e.g., homemaker, leisure, citizen, and interrelationship of
8. Problems that can interfere with career choice (e.g., work identity,
career maturity, faulty thinking, lack of information-processing
skills, and educational deficiencies, among others)
9. Problems that interfere with career development (e.g., work-related
dysfunctions, work maladjustment, faulty cognitions, psychological
10. Clarification of problems (state problems clearly and concretely)
11. Identification of client goals (e.g., determine feasibility of goals, cre-
ate subgoals, and assess client's commitment; Brems, 2001; D. Brown,
Brooks, & Associates, 1996; Cormier & Nurius, 2003).
This rather straightforward format is considered to be very inclusive and
indeed provides categories of basic information that is considered essential
in the counseling process. However, because of its inclusive nature, helpers
will often need more than one session to complete the intake interview. Ivey
and Ivey (2003) pointed out that counselors should and must strive to build
a trusting relationship with their clients. It should not be considered unusual
to temporarily end the interview to administer assessment instruments, for
example. Presenting problems could also be so complex that the client is
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