Career Counseling Practices – SAGE Pub

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           3                                        Career
                                       Counseling Practices

           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
                  life roles)
               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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