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Career engagement: Bridging career counseling and employee engagement

  • Canadian Career Development Foundation


A model of career engagement is presented to help bridge the gap between career counselors' focus on supporting individuals to find meaningful work and employers' desire for an engaged, productive, and committed workforce.
Volume 48 • Number 4 • December 2011
journal of employment counseling
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
Thoughts on Theories: Editorial
Roberta A. Neault, Editor ................................ 146
Infusing Culture in Career Counseling
Nancy Arthur and Sandra Collins ......................... 147
Cultural Accommodation Model of Counseling
Frederick T. L. Leong ................................... 150
The Career Counseling With Underserved Populations Model
Mark Pope........................................... 153
Capitalizing on Happenstance
John D. Krumboltz..................................... 156
The Challenge of Change: The Transition Model and Its Applications
Nancy K. Schlossberg ................................... 159
The Chaos Theory of Careers
Jim E. H. Bright and Robert G. L. Pryor .................... 163
Integrative Life Planning: A Holistic Approach
Sunny Sundal Hansen .................................. 167
The Systems Theory Framework of Career Development
Mary McMahon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Career Flow: A Hope-Centered Model of Career Development
Spencer G. Niles....................................... 173
Coherent Career Practice
Kris Magnusson and Dave Redekopp ....................... 176
Constructing Careers: Actor, Agent, and Author
Mark L. Savickas ...................................... 179
Active Engagement and the Use of Metaphors in
Employment Counseling
Norman E. Amundson .................................. 182
Career Engagement: Bridging Career Counseling and
Employee Engagement
Roberta A. Neault and Deirdre A. Pickerell .................. 185
Thoughts on Theories: Annotated Reference List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
Title and Author Index to Volume 48 ........................ 191
Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation .......... 162
Special Issue: Thoughts on Theories
146 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
Special Issue: Thoughts on Theories
thoughts on theories: editorial
Roberta A. Neault, Editor
Almost exactly 1 year ago, I sent out an invitation to colleagues in the career and employ-
ment counseling community who had contributed to developing theories and models in
our field. I asked them for highlights of their theory or model—especially how it could
be used by employment counselors. I also asked for case examples, brief interventions,
relevant activities, or suggested readings, as well as points they were still pondering or
how they would like to see their work further developed.
The response was overwhelming! With limited space, we have worked together to pres-
ent the “Coles Notes” version of their work, resulting in a single issue with 13 articles
by 17 contributors and an annotated reference list that points to 23 more articles, books,
and resources. Some of the articles present a fairly comprehensive review of the relevant
literature, and others take a more conversational approach. Some are grounded in years
of research, and others are in their infancy, taking their first tentative steps in formulating
ideas for others to examine. Combined, the articles give us a glimpse into theories and
models that are applicable to 21st-century careers. Despite significant differences, there
are common threads woven through the articles composing this issue—themes include
diversity (Arthur & Collins; Leong; Pope), change and chance (Krumboltz; Schlossberg),
contextual and systemic influences (Bright & Pryor; Hansen; McMahon; Niles), construct-
ing careers (Magnusson & Redekopp; Savickas), and sustaining engagement (Amundson;
Neault & Pickerell).
All of these approaches could be described as “career responsiveness” (Neault, 2002, p. 14).
The context for careers in the 21st century is far from static. As employment counselors, we
can draw from the theories and models briefly presented here in order to equip our increasingly
diverse clients to proactively respond to the career changes they encounter.
Clearly, with only 48 pages to work with, countless other important theories and models
are not included here. My hope is that other journal editors in our field will build on this
humble beginning, dedicating space for some of our creative thinkers to further share
their “thoughts on theories.”
With the publication of this issue, I now pass the baton to Incoming Editor Dale S.
Furbish, Incoming Associate Editor Kevin Glavin, and a dedicated team of reviewers—
many continuing their tenure and several new reviewers joining the team. I’ve thoroughly
enjoyed the opportunity to serve as editor for the past 3 years and learned much through
the process. The journal has received international recognition, yet continued to have a
practical focus. I hope that you find this issue particularly helpful.
Neault, R. (2002). Thriving in the new millennium: Career management in the changing world of work. Cana-
dian Journal of Career Development, 1, 11–21.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 147
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
infusing culture in career counseling
Nancy Arthur and Sandra Collins
This article introduces the culture-infused career counselling (CICC) model. Six principles
are foundational to a tripartite model emphasizing cultural self-awareness, awareness of
client cultural identities, and development of a culturally sensitive working alliance. The core
competencies ensure the cultural validity and relevance of career counseling practices for
all clients and shift the focus of career practice to support social justice action.
Culture-infused career counselling (CICC; Arthur & Collins, 2010a) is premised on the
belief that cultural influences are inextricably woven into people’s career development
(Arthur, 2008; Leong, 2010). The conceptual foundation of CICC (Arthur & Collins,
2010b; Collins & Arthur, 2010a, 2010b) evolved from frameworks of multicultural
counseling (Arredondo et al., 1996; Sue et al., 1998). As we have adapted the model for
career counseling, the CICC emphasizes reflective practice in three domains: counselor
self-awareness, awareness of the cultures of other people, and awareness of the influences
of culture on the working alliance. Intervention planning beyond individual counseling
incorporates advocacy and social justice.
CICC is premised on six guiding assumptions. First, culture is relevant for career prac-
tices with all clients. Clients have unique experiences that influence both career-related
issues and available resources. Some individuals are positioned as outsiders, or others,
in the social construction of culture, on the basis of their ethnicity, gender, religion, abil-
ity, sexual orientation, age, and/or social class. The salience of culture for career issues
shifts over time and context. Clients with multiple nondominant identities may be further
challenged in navigating community, organization, or other social systems (Collins, 2010).
Second, culture is relevant for all career counselors. Personal and professional socializa-
tion shape approaches to career counseling. This includes internalized notions of work and
career, on-track and off-track career development, as well as how counselors define career
problems, interventions, and actions.
Third, views of career and career issues are culturally defined. The terms career and
career development are constructed terms with multiple meanings defined by cultural
assumptions and interpretations. These terms may have little relevance for people whose
lives are preoccupied by seeking work as a means of survival (Blustein, 2006). Career
counselors must assess the meanings of work in people’s lives to ensure culturally rel-
evant interventions.
Fourth, theories of career development and models of career counseling contain cultural
assumptions. The cultural validity of theories and models based on Western values and tenets,
such as individualism and autonomy, the centrality of the work role, affluence, and the linearity
Nancy Arthur, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and Sandra Collins,
Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada. Correspon-
dence concerning this article should be addressed to Nancy Arthur, Faculty of Education, University of
Calgary, 2500 University Drive, NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4 (e-mail:
148 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
or progressive nature of career development, may have limited utility for clients whose worldview
is more aligned with collectivistic values (Arthur & Popadiuk, 2010).
Fifth, the goals and processes of career counseling need to be collaboratively defined. Cli-
ents’ views of career counseling may be connected to cultural norms of help-seeking and work/
career outcomes, or family and/or community expectations for their decision making (Arthur
& Popadiuk, 2010).
Sixth, CICC challenges counselors to incorporate multiple levels of intervention. Beyond
individual counseling, career counselors may address systemic change or advocate for programs
and services. Given the recent attention paid to social justice issues in people’s career develop-
ment (Arthur, 2008), career counselors are challenged to increase their advocacy competencies
(Ratts, Torporek, & Lewis, 2010).
These six principles undergird the CICC model’s three core domains of culture-infused counsel-
ing competency. First, counselors must increase awareness of their own cultural identities. We
encourage career counselors to reflect about how their personal culture influences their views
of work, life roles, beliefs about success, and personal agency. Counselors are cultural beings,
and their personal cultural identity shapes their worldview, perspectives on other people, and
lenses through which they define client issues and interventions.
Second, the CICC model focuses on awareness of client cultural identities, including un-
derstanding the organizational, social, economic, and political contexts that affect presenting
concerns; client career development behavior; and client perspectives on the meaning and
relevance of career-related interventions. Client empowerment is incorporated into the CICC
model, but counselors are also challenged to consider systemic and social influences on career
concerns and to select interventions that go beyond helping clients cope and adapt to oppressive
social conditions that contribute to work and career barriers in the first place (Arthur, 2008).
The final domain of the CICC model focuses on establishing an effective and culturally sensitive
working alliance with clients. This working alliance is characterized by agreement on the goals
and tasks involved in career counseling in the context of a collaborative, trusting, and respect-
ful relationship. Forming an effective working alliance depends on counselor self-awareness
and awareness of the client’s culture. A mismatch in counselor–client perspectives on the goals
and processes of career counseling may affect client motivation and result in withdrawal from
services. Career counselors must consider the cultural validity of their approaches, particularly
for working with clients from nondominant populations. We encourage career practitioners to
collaborate with clients in selecting interventions while addressing the systemic and social
power disparities that limit clients from reaching their full potential. Career counselors may also
intervene through addressing organizational policies and practices, or mobilizing interprofes-
sional collaboration (Arthur & Collins, 2010b).
Career counselors who embrace social justice as a core value acquire knowledge about
the social, economic, and political forces that shape career development, including op-
portunities and barriers for education and employment. Career issues are viewed with
a broader lens to assess individual and broader environmental influences on career
concerns. The CICC emphasis on social justice challenges current practices that focus
primarily on remedial-type interventions and also incorporates education and prevention
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 149
(Arthur, Collins, McMahon, & Marshall, 2009). As guidelines and standards for career
development practitioners are developed and revised, they need to reflect more than
sensitivity about diversity and social justice and strengthen competencies that support
active practices (Arthur, 2008).
To support application of CICC principles and reflective practice, we developed a cultural
auditing guide for case planning, service delivery, and evaluation (Collins, Arthur, &
Wong-Wylie, 2010). Reflective questions and probes in a 13-step process help counselors
negotiate effective counseling processes and outcome goals with clients. This tool can be
used for personal reflection in supervision sessions, for case conferences, and to identify
learning goals for future professional development.
In summary, career practitioners are encouraged to strengthen reflective practice, particu-
larly their awareness of personal culture, cultural influences on clients’ career-related needs,
and the relevance of culture for developing an effective working alliance to foster collaborative
goals and processes for career counseling. This means embracing social justice action through
expanding the roles of career counseling from remedial services to advocating for services that
are proactive and preventative and directed at health promotion.
Arredondo, P., Toporek, B., Brown, S. P., Jones, J., Locke, D. C., Sanchez, J., & Stadler, H. (1996). Operationalization
of the multicultural counseling competencies. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 24, 42–78.
Arthur, N. (2008). Qualification standards for career development practitioners. In J. Athanasou & R. Van Esbroeck
(Eds.), International handbook of career guidance (pp. 303–323). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
Arthur, N., & Collins, S. (2010a, January). Culture-infused career counselling: A new model for intervention planning.
Paper presented at CANNEXUS 2010, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Arthur, N., & Collins, S. (Eds.). (2010b). Culture-infused counselling (2nd ed.). Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Counsel-
ling Concepts.
Arthur, N., Collins, S., McMahon, M., & Marshall, C. (2009). Career practitioners’ views of social justice and barriers
for practice. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 8, 22–31. Retrieved from
Arthur, N., & Popadiuk, N. (2010). A cultural formulation approach to career counseling with international students.
Journal of Career Development, 37, 423–440. doi:10.1177/0894845309345845
Blustein, D. L. (2006). The psychology of working: A new perspective for career development, counseling, and public
policy. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Collins, S. (2010). Women on the margins: Honouring multiple and intersecting cultural identities. In L. Ross
(Ed.), Counselling women: Feminist issues, theory and practice (pp. 21–50). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Canadian
Scholars’ Press/Women’s Press.
Collins, S., & Arthur, N. (2010a). Culture-infused counseling: A fresh look at a classic framework of multicultural
counseling competencies. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 23, 203–216. doi:10.1080/09515071003798204
Collins, S., & Arthur, N. (2010b). Culture-infused counseling: A model for developing cultural competence. Counsel-
ling Psychology Quarterly, 23, 217–233. doi:10.1080/09515071003798212
Collins, S., Arthur, N., & Wong-Wylie, G. (2010). Enhancing reflective practice in multicultural counseling through
cultural auditing. Journal of Counseling & Development, 88, 340–347.
Leong, F. T. L. (2010). A cultural formulation approach to career assessment and career counseling: Guest editor’s
introduction. Journal of Career Development, 37, 375–390. doi:10.1177/0894845310363708
Ratts, M. J., Toporek, R. L., & Lewis, J. A. (Eds.). (2010). ACA advocacy competencies: A social justice framework
for counselors. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Sue, D. W., Carter, R. T., Casas, J. M., Fouad, N. A., Ivey, A. E., Jensen, M., . . . Vazquez-Nutall, E. (1998). Multi-
cultural counseling competencies: Individual and organizational development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
cultural accommodation model
of counseling
Frederick T. L. Leong
The current article provides an overview to the cultural accommodation model (CAM) of
counseling (Leong & Lee, 2006) that may help guide employment counselors’ work. The
integrative multidimensional model of cross-cultural counseling (Leong, 1996), a precursor
to the CAM, is also reviewed.
The workforce in the United States has become increasingly diversified in recent decades
(U.S. Department of Labor, 2001), yet the field of counseling has not kept pace in the
development of theoretical models to guide counseling practice with such a diverse cli-
entele. To date, there has been only one major comprehensive theoretical model offered
to the field (Sue, Ivey, & Pedersen, 1996).
As one small step in addressing this gap, the purpose of the current article is to provide
an overview of the CAM of psychotherapy (Leong & Lee, 2006), which can be adapted
for employment counselors to assist them in their work. As Lewin (1951) indicated,
“there is nothing so practical as a good theory” (p. 169). Early components of the CAM
were presented in a chapter by Leong and Tang (2002) and then further articulated in
an article by Leong and Lee (2006).
Leong (1996) presented a multidimensional and integrative model of cross-cultural coun-
seling and psychotherapy based on Kluckhohn and Murray’s (1950) tripartite framework.
He proposed that cross-cultural therapists need to attend to all three major dimensions of
human personality and identity, namely, the universal (U), the group (G), and the individual
(I) dimensions. The U dimension is based on the knowledge base generated by mainstream
psychology and the universal laws of human behavior that have been supported by substantial
bodies of research. The G dimension has been the domain of cross-cultural psychology as
well as ethnic minority psychology and the study of gender differences. The third dimen-
sion is concerned with unique I characteristics. The I dimension is more often covered
by behavioral and existential theories in which individual learning histories and personal
phenomenology are proposed as critical elements in the understanding of human behavior.
Leong’s (1996) integrative model proposes that all three (U, G, and I) dimensions are equally
important in understanding human experiences and should be attended to by the counselor
in an integrative fashion.
In developing his integrative model, Leong (1996) used a famous quote from Kluckhohn
and Murray’s (1950) influential article. As the beginning point for his model, Kluckhohn and
Murray indicated that “every man is in certain respects: (a) like all other men, (b) like some
other men, and (c) like no other man” (as cited in Leong, 1996, p. 190). Kluckhohn and Mur-
ray’s contention was that some of the determinants of personality are common features found
in the makeup of all people. This could be interpreted as addressing the biological aspect
of the biopsychosocial model generally used in today’s medical sciences. For certain other
Frederick T. L. Leong, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University. Correspondence concern-
ing this article should be addressed to Frederick T. L. Leong, Department of Psychology, Michigan State
University, 262 Psychology Building, East Lansing, MI 48824 (e -mail:
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 151
features of personality, however, Kluckhohn and Murray stated that most individuals are like
some other individuals, suggesting the importance of social grouping, whether that grouping
is based on culture, race, ethnicity, gender, or social class. Finally, Kluckhohn and Murray
(1950) said that “each individual’s modes of perceiving, feeling, needing, and behaving have
characteristic patterns which are not precisely duplicated by those of any other individual”
(p. 37). Each person’s individuality, often the focus of social learning theories and models, is
thus implied. Individuality suggests that all persons have distinct social learning experiences
that can influence their values, beliefs, and cognitive schemas.
Traditional Western models of counseling tend to focus on the U dimension and com-
pletely ignore the G and I components that are necessary for a complete understanding
of human behavior. Although the U dimension in counseling is very important to the
integrative model, it is necessary but not sufficient for understanding and is often mis-
guided for intervening (Leong, 1996).
According to Leong (1996), the G component of human personality is as important as the U
component. These groupings may be based on culture, race, ethnicity, social class, occupation,
religion, or gender. All persons in a social group share some type of bond with other members
of the group, and this bond will distinguish the group members from members of other groups.
Important constructs related to the G dimension are racial/ethnic identity, acculturation, and
value preferences. A culturally competent counselor must be able to consider all of these
variables from the standpoint of the client, especially if the client is a member of a different
cultural group. Not doing so would make it impossible to accurately conceptualize the client’s
psychological state, which in turn would make effective counseling difficult at best. As noted
by Leong and Tang (2002), there are many dynamics that must be taken into consideration in
counseling situations involving a client and therapist of different cultural backgrounds. Each
person must have some awareness of the experiences of the other in order to be able to form a
relationship. A counselor operating only at the U level may alienate the client. Although the two
may not have shared group-level experiences in their backgrounds, the counselor must be able
to address issues that involve groups other than his or her own (e.g., see Leong & Lee, 2006).
Finally, there is the I component of human personality within Leong’s (1996) integrative CAM
model. Although it is true that we as individuals all share some commonalities, as reflected by
the U component, no two persons are identical in every way. Kluckhohn and Murray (1950)
said, “Each individual’s modes of perceiving, feeling, needing, and behaving have characteristic
patterns which are not precisely duplicated by those of any other individual” (p. 37). Kluck-
hohn and Murray seemed to be referring to an idea akin to the concept of the “psychological
environment” (Lewin, 1951), which refers to the idea that although two people may share the
same physical space, they may not share the same psychological space. To neglect the I com-
ponent would be to run the danger of stereotyping persons from various cultural groups due to
overgeneralizations from the G dimension.
The CAM, based on this integrative model, is proposed to be additive to both the uni-
versalist and the culture assimilation approaches to psychological theories of counseling.
Leong and Lee (2006) identified three steps in the proposed cultural accommodation ap-
proach: (a) identifying the cultural gaps or cultural blind spots in an existing theory that may
restrict the cultural validity of the theory, (b) selecting current culturally specific concepts
and models from cross-cultural and ethnic minority psychology to fill in the cultural gaps
and accommodate the theory to racial and ethnic minorities, and (c) testing the culturally
accommodated theory to determine if it has incremental validity above and beyond the
culturally unaccommodated theory.
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For the first step of the cultural accommodation process, we counselors need to examine
which aspects of the counseling model or theory in question can be considered culture-
general and be extended to other cultural groups beyond the dominant culture (e.g., Whites/
European Americans). We also need to consider which aspects of the theory are culture-
specific to the dominant culture and should not be generalized or imposed on other cultural
groups. Furthermore, are there experiences of racial and ethnic minority groups represented
as culture-specific constructs that are not captured within the theory? These questions of
cultural validity and cultural specificity will need to be examined in the cultural context of
the environment. Once the theory has been evaluated, we can move toward identifying its
culture gaps and blind spots (Leong & Lee, 2006).
Having reviewed the commonly used Western models of counseling with regard to
their cross-cultural validity and degree of cultural loading, culture-specific constructs
need to be identified in order to fill the gaps. This constitutes the second step in the
CAM. It is essentially an incremental validity model whereby the universal or culture-
general aspects of these Western models need to be supplemented with culture-specific
information. It is proposed that adding culture-specific elements to the Western models
in order to consider the cultural dynamics of racial and ethnic minority clients will
produce a more effective and relevant approach to counseling with these clients when
universalistic models are not confirmed to be equally valid in the other cultures. When
accommodation is needed, the question then becomes which cultural variables should
be used for this process.
There are likely a myriad of cultural variables that may be implicated in the cross-cultural
counseling triad (i.e., counselor, client, and the employers) and, as such, are inherently more
complex than those that constitute the dyadic cross-cultural psychotherapy encounter. Leong
and Lee (2006) have proposed that the selection of the culture-specific variables for accom-
modation be guided by the evidence-based practice approach. Therefore, counselors using the
CAM need to undertake a review of the scientific literature with regard to the most critical and
salient culture-specific variables to add to their counseling model. Finally, research is needed to
test the value of the culturally accommodated model to determine if it has incremental validity
above and beyond the culturally unaccommodated theory.
Kluckhohn, C., & Murray, H. A. (1950). Personality formation: The determinants. In C. Kluckhohn & H. A. Murray
(Eds.), Personality in nature, society, and culture (pp. 35–48). New York, NY: Knopf.
Leong, F. T. L. (1996). Toward an integrative model for cross-cultural counseling and psychotherapy. Applied and
Preventive Psychology, 5, 189–209. doi:10.1016/S0962-1849(96)80012-6
Leong, F. T. L., & Lee, S.-H. (2006). A cultural accommodation model of psychotherapy: Illustrated with the case
of Asian Americans. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, and Training, 43, 410–423. doi:10.1037/0033-
Leong, F. T. L., & Tang, M. (2002). A cultural accommodation approach to career assessment with Asian Americans.
In K. Kurasaki, S. Okazaki, & S. Sue (Eds.), Asian American mental health: Assessment, theories and methods
(pp. 265–281). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic.
Lewin, K. (1951). Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers (D. Cartwright, Ed.). New York, NY:
Harper & Row.
Sue, D. W., Ivey, A. E., & Pedersen, P. B. (1996). Theory of multicultural counseling and therapy. Pacific Grove,
CA: Brooks/Cole.
U.S. Department of Labor. (2001). Counting minorities: A brief history and a look at the future. In Report on the
American workforce. Retrieved from
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© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
the career counseling with
underserved populations model
Mark Pope
Providing effective career counseling to culturally diverse individuals is not the same as
helping those from majority cultures. The Career Counseling With Underserved Popula-
tions model aids career counselors in supporting underserved populations as they strive
to address their important career counseling issues.
Some career services providers think that providing effective career counseling to culturally
diverse individuals is exactly the same as helping those from majority cultures. Although the
foundation is similar, the nuances that lead to assisting these adults in mastering their career
issues are quite important and can be determinant in achieving successful outcomes. Such
individuals are underserved not only because career services providers shy away from helping
them as a result of not having the knowledge, skills, and awareness, but also because when they
do attempt it, they simply do it badly. In this article, I present a model to help career counsel-
ors develop an approach to helping underserved populations address their important career
counseling issues. This new model can also be used in developing culturally appropriate career
services as the world becomes increasingly diverse. The Career Counseling With Underserved
Populations (CCUSP) model is based on new research in this area along with special interven-
tions identified in this emerging literature (Pope, 2009a, 2009b).
The career development needs and issues of culturally diverse individuals are growing in
importance as their numbers in the global workforce continue to increase and as they find
their social, political, and economic voices. One example illustrates this phenomenon. The
number of Americans who belong to ethnic and racial minority groups has grown tremen-
dously, accounting for 31% of the U.S. population (U.S. Department of Labor, 1999). This
example is mirrored around the world, and such changes in demographics have the potential
for significant political and social ramifications, especially during times of economic difficulty.
In this article, the terms culture and culturally diverse are used inclusively as identifiers
for individuals who are from various nondominant or nonmajority cultures, such as ethnic
and racial minorities, gender and sexual minorities (women, transgender people, lesbians,
gays, bisexuals, and questioning and intersex individuals), and many other cultural groups
(persons who are disabled, older persons, the poor, rural persons, and others; Pope, 1995b).
Both the terms dominant and majority are used here to imply numeric quantity and/or
power. Furthermore, culture is complex, and a person is composed of many cultures that
get refracted through the individual seeking career counseling.
The most important career development issues for diverse groups are the various barriers
that such groups encounter regularly, such as discrimination (e.g., in jobs, housing, employee
benefits), inequitable access to resources (e.g., high-quality basic education, early and con-
sistent career counseling), and language, religious, and cultural differences (e.g., conflicts
between the values of their culture of origin and the dominant national culture, such as values
Mark Pope, Division of Counseling and Family Therapy, University of Missouri–Saint Louis. Correspondence
concerning this article should be addressed to Mark Pope, Division of Counseling and Family Therapy,
University of Missouri–Saint Louis, 415 Marillac Hall, One University Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63121-
4400 (e-mail:
154 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
that do not support appropriate individual/familial responsibility or cultural differences in
the value and definition of work or career; Allport, 1954).
Finally, scholarship in the past 3 decades has begun to focus on the career development and
career behavior of individuals from nondominant cultures, with resources such as (a) books, (b)
special issues of journals, (c) special chapters in several multicultural counseling and career
counseling textbooks, and (d) many individual articles in the refereed journals of our profession
(Pope, 2009a). For the career counselor, vocational psychologist, or career development specialist
who is seeking practical advice on how to provide culturally appropriate career services, there is
now a growing body of research-based information about how to do this.
The CCUSP model (Pope, 2009a, 2009b) came directly from this literature and was influenced
by my early writings on sexual minority career development (Pope, 1992, 1995a, 1995b; Pope &
Barret, 2002). It was later expanded to address the issues of ethnic and racial minorities (Pope,
1999; Pope et al., 2004; Pope, Cheng, & Leong, 1998), and it now has been fully integrated into
the new model. Here is what has been learned about effective practice with ethnic, racial, and
sexual/gender minorities.
Key 1: Take responsibility for your own biases and prejudices. This is the foundational key upon
which all the others are built and is critical for career counselors, vocational psychologists,
and all career development specialists. Bias can affect the interventions that are selected
as well as how such interventions are used.
Key 2: Know the process of cultural identity development and use it. This is the one element consis-
tently recommended in the research literature as a critical component in successful career
counseling with culturally diverse adults.
Key 3: Know the special issues of specific cultures. This awareness is essential for career counselors
in order to provide effective services.
Key 4: Directly address issues of discrimination. Openly addressing these issues and preparing clients
to cope with the more overt manifestations of racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism,
and other forms of discrimination is an important and primary role of the career counselor.
Key 5: Group career counseling has a strong appeal to many racial and ethnic minority clients.
Several characteristics of group-oriented or collectivist cultures—primacy of group survival
over individual survival, interdependency, connectedness—make them especially suited
to group career counseling.
Key 6: Pay particular attention to the role of the family. The role of the family, defined as broad
and extended, is exceptionally important in the provision of career counseling services to
individuals from collectivist cultures.
Key 7: Pay attention to the special issues of dual-career couples. The issue of dual-career couples
has been explored more in the sexual minority career development literature than in the
ethnic and racial minority literature, where the focus has been more on the special role of
the family in career decisions.
Key 8: Be aware of the special issues when using career assessment inventories with individuals from
various cultural communities. Special procedures have been recommended for using formal
assessment tools with diverse individuals.
Key 9: Help clients overcome internalized negative stereotypes or internalized oppression. This is a
critical role of the career counselor because such stereotypes or internalized oppression
can provide significant barriers to successful outcomes.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 155
Key 10: Pay attention to coming out issues with clients for whom their cultural membership is not
obvious. The issue of whether to disclose one’s culture to others is a unique issue for some
clients (e.g., gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender, multiple race/ethnicity, political affiliation, reli-
gion, and some disabilities). In the sexual minority counseling literature, this is termed coming
out and has been central for gay men and lesbian women who are seeking career counseling.
Key 11: To overcome societal stereotyping as a limitation on occupational choice, use occupational
role model and networking interventions. Such interventions are very important for special
populations that have historically been limited in their occupational choices.
Key 12: Maintain a supportive atmosphere in your office. At the programmatic level, this is one
simple and concrete way to inform others that a career counselor or vocational psycholo-
gist is supportive of the struggles of culturally diverse persons.
Key 13: Provide positive social advocacy for your culturally diverse clients. Career counselors work-
ing with any special cultural group must be affirming of that group, going beyond the “do
no harm” admonition to encompass a positive advocacy for their clients and their rights.
The career development of a diverse workforce is a critical component of social progress around
the world. Career counselors, vocational psychologists, global career development facilitators,
and other career development specialists play an important role in preparing workers for the
workforce and helping governments and other institutions understand and address the many
career development issues of this new workforce. On the basis of more than 30 years of research,
we now have some knowledge of how to proceed with career counseling clients from cultures
different than our own. On the basis of such knowledge, the CCUSP model assists career services
providers in developing a more nuanced approach that can help these individuals master their
career issues and achieve career success.
Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Pope, M. (1992). Bias in the interpretation of psychological tests. In S. Dworkin & F. Gutierrez (Eds.), Coun-
seling gay men & lesbians: Journey to the end of the rainbow (pp. 277–292). Alexandria, VA: American
Counseling Association.
Pope, M. (1995a). Career interventions for gay and lesbian clients: A synopsis of practice knowledge and
research needs. The Career Development Quarterly, 44, 191–203.
Pope, M. (1995b). The “salad bowl” is big enough for us all: An argument for the inclusion of lesbians and
gays in any definition of multiculturalism. Journal of Counseling & Development, 73, 301–304.
Pope, M. (1999). Applications of group career counseling techniques in Asian cultures. Journal of Multicultural
Counseling and Development, 27, 18–30.
Pope, M. (2009a). Career counseling with diverse adults. In J. G. Ponterotto, J. M. Casas, L. A. Suzuki, & C.
Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling (3rd ed., pp. 731–743). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Pope, M. (2009b, April). The 12, er 13, keys to successful career counselling with ethnic, racial, and sexual
minorities. Keynote presentation at CANNEXUS 2009, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Pope, M., & Barret, B. (2002). Providing career counseling services to gay and lesbian clients. In S. G. Niles
(Ed.), Adult career development: Concepts, issues, and practices (3rd ed., pp. 215–232). Tulsa, OK: National
Career Development Association.
Pope, M., Barret, B., Szymanski, D. M., Chung, Y. B., Singaravelu, H., McLean, R., & Sanabria, S. (2004). Culturally
appropriate career counseling with gay and lesbian clients. The Career Development Quarterly, 53, 158–177.
Pope, M., Cheng, W. D., & Leong, F. T. L. (1998). The case of Chou: The inextricability of career to personal/
social issues. Journal of Career Development, 25, 53–64.
U.S. Department of Labor. (1999). Futurework: Trends and challenges for work in the 21st century. Washington,
DC: Author.
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© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
capitalizing on happenstance
John D. Krumboltz
Unplanned events occur every day and have a deep impact on individuals’ lives. The
happenstance learning theory (Krumboltz, 2009; Krumboltz & Levin, 2010), briefly sum-
marized in this article, provides guidance for employment counselors assisting clients to
clarify goals and brainstorm actions to capitalize on chance events.
Here you are—a living human being on planet Earth. Did you plan the time and place of your
birth? Did you choose who your parents would be? Did you choose your first language? Did
you choose whether you would be born male or female?
No? Neither did I. Yet all of these happenstance events have had a tremendous impact on our lives.
And that was just the beginning. Other unplanned happenstance events are occurring every day.
A theory is just an explanation. I want to explain how it is that people find their way into
various occupations and how employment counselors can help them create more satisfying lives
for themselves. The happenstance learning theory (Krumboltz, 2009; Krumboltz & Levin, 2010)
is my attempt to make sense of our crazy world and provide helpful guidance to those who are
providing helpful guidance.
Every action we take, every word we speak, results in some consequences we could not
have predicted. That does not mean that we have no control over our lives. On the contrary,
we have a great deal of control because the actions we take can generate outcomes on which
we can capitalize. The outcomes may be different than those we expected, but it is important
for clients to realize that their success depends on their ability to create and take advantage
of unplanned events.
Some of the propositions in happenstance learning theory may appear revolutionary, but they
are just common sense. Others may appear to be common sense, but they are revolutionary.
They are not necessarily arranged in a sequence you as a counselor would use, but you get to
choose which ideas you want to use with each of your clients.
Clarify the Goal
The first step is to make sure we agree on the goal. Traditionally, employment counselors have
tried to help people choose their lifetime occupation. Making a career decision used to be the goal.
It should no longer be the goal. We have no way of recommending what anyone’s future occupa-
tion should be. The world is changing too fast for us to even be sure what occupations will exist
tomorrow. A better goal is to help people learn how to create more satisfying lives for themselves.
Tell your clients that your goal is to help them create more satisfying lives for themselves.
You cannot make their lives perfect. Everyone has problems. Your job is to help them improve
their feelings about work and life—not achieve perfection. You want your clients to become
more glad to be alive within their current circumstances. The Declaration of Independence
has asserted that one unalienable right is the pursuit of happiness. Your job is to help every
client in that pursuit. It is what everyone wants. Every occupation can provide some degree of
satisfaction for a limited number of people.
John D. Krumboltz, School of Education, Stanford University. Correspondence concerning this article
should be addressed to John D. Krumboltz, School of Education, Stanford University, 485 Lasuen Mall,
Stanford, CA 94305-3096 (e-mail:
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Communicate Your Empathic Understanding of Their Situation
Before you can help others, you must convince them that you really understand the predicament
in which they find themselves now. You must understand not only the facts of the situation but
also their feelings about it. The importance of empathic understanding can be traced back to Carl
Rogers and Sigmund Freud, but an old idea is still a good idea.
The only serious mistake is to think that this good idea is completely sufficient and that nothing
more is required. The happenstance learning theory stresses that additional actions are needed.
Brainstorm the Next Action Step
Brainstorming is a mutual activity in which the client and counselor make a list of some
possible (or impossible) actions that might get the client started on some constructive action
to improve the situation. After making the list, they agree on one action that the client will
perform by a specified time.
The brainstorming process may or may not identify a solution to the client’s problem, but it
gets clients involved in taking some action and in making them responsible for their own suc-
cess. The results cannot be predicted or guaranteed, but whatever happens provides learning
opportunities. Asking them to set their own deadline tends to prevent procrastination.
E-mail Report of Action
It is important to maintain communication between client and counselor. E-mailing or texting
can provide quick but unobtrusive means for maintaining progress. You have obtained their
agreement to e-mail you a short report about their action by a specified time. Their promise to
e-mail you increases the probability that they will actually take the action.
Positively Reinforce Their Action
Respond to their e-mail promptly. Let them know that you appreciate their efforts to
solve their own problems. Taking a first step gets the action started and makes it clear
that the client is the one responsible for making it happen.
Overcome the Fear of Making Mistakes
What if the client promises to take some action but then fails to do so? Here is the
perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate the way to deal with failure. You might say,
You know, I made a mistake when I agreed with you that that action was a good first thing to do. I see now that it
was more than you could reasonably be expected to accomplish in the short time we had specified. Let’s do some
more brainstorming and see if we can come up with some other action that would actually be possible.
Set an example for clients by learning from the inevitable mistakes and failures. Clients
are human and will make mistakes. You are human and will make mistakes. Treat all
mistakes and failures as learning opportunities.
The message you are trying to convey to your client might be summarized as follows:
If you don’t try, you can’t succeed. If you do try, you might or might not succeed. If you
don’t succeed at first, you learn what doesn’t work. What you learn enables you to try
something different next time.
Measure Counseling Success by What Clients Accomplish in the Real World
The success of counseling cannot be determined by what happens during a counseling
interview. Clients come to see you because they want to have a more satisfying life. Your
job is to help them create that more satisfying life out there in the real world. You might
have made many mistakes during the counseling process—that’s beside the point now.
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To what extent are your clients leading more satisfying lives now than before you first
saw them? Only they know. The only way you know is to ask them.
So you measure your counseling success from client reports of improved satisfaction in
their real-world work and personal lives. You cannot be judged by what happens during
counseling sessions. Realistically, you cannot expect to find out the degree of success
of every client. Some clients will not cooperate with your request for information. Some
partial reports of satisfaction, however, are better than no reports at all. One of the ad-
vantages of using e-mails and texting during the counseling process is that it builds a
habit of responding to you electronically.
Save Evidence of Success for Political Purposes
Counselors do not like to think of themselves as being involved in a political process.
However, every counselor needs to be paid for services in one way or another, and those
who operate counseling clinics need to justify the services they are providing. Evidence
of success cannot be judged simply by counting the number of clients being seen. The
question needs to be asked about whether clients have benefited in some way by the
service. Reports of client improvement in their work and personal well-being can be very
persuasive in justifying the continuation of counseling services. We are always involved
in politics whether we like it or not. As long as we are involved, it helps to have ready
access to some persuasive evidence of success.
Offer Periodic Checkups
Employment counseling is not a one-time event. Achieving work and personal satisfaction
is the work of a lifetime. Many problems arise while being employed:
• Insensitivesupervisors
• Insufcientpay
• Hostilecoworkers
• Dangerousworkingconditions
• Boringworktasks
• Desireforpromotion
• Healthconditionsthatinterferewithwork
• Retirementplanning
You can offer your clients periodic checkups for adapting to unexpected lifetime events. Like
dental checkups, lifetime checkups can help detect and remedy inevitable problems that arise.
Counseling services will be needed for personal problems with marriage, children, budgets,
and layoffs. Counselors need never to be unemployed, and you may refer clients to specialized
counselors if you feel additional help is needed.
Encourage Further Research
Any theory needs additional research to support or refute the propositions it advocates. At the
end of the theory document (Krumboltz, 2009), a list of researchable questions is suggested.
Feel free to suggest this list to graduate students searching for a suitable thesis topic. (A free
copy of the theory itself can be downloaded from the author’s website:
Krumboltz, J. D. (2009). The happenstance learning theory. Journal of Career Assessment, 17, 135–154.
Krumboltz, J. D., & Levin, A. S. (2010). Luck is no accident: Making the most of happenstance in your life and
career (2nd ed.). Atascadero, CA: Impact Publishers.
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© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
the challenge of change: the transition
model and its applications
Nancy K. Schlossberg
A brief description of the 4 Ss (situation, self, supports, strategies) System for coping with
transitions is provided, with examples of each of the categories.
My fascination with transitions began with a geographical move. I had an excellent job wait-
ing, so the transition should have been easy. Instead, I experienced unexplained confusion. I
wondered why an ordinary transition like geographical moving—a transition I elected—would
produce such angst. I decided to study geographical moving. The results were inconclusive,
and I realized there was much more to learn. Thus began my 35-year fascination with study-
ing transitions, with special emphasis on work.
Work transitions are particularly complex because individuals will change jobs and ca-
reers many times, and the structure of work itself is always changing. It is critical that we
understand change, how it affects our clients, and how we can apply this knowledge to our
lives and our clients’ lives.
This discussion of The Transition Model includes (a) understanding transitions, (b) coping
with transitions, and (c) applying the model to work life transitions.
Understanding Transitions
The first step in dealing with change requires understanding different types of transitions:
• Anticipatedtransitionsaremajorlifeeventsweusuallyexpect,suchas graduat-
ing from high school or college, marrying, becoming a parent, starting a first job,
changing careers, or retiring.
• Unanticipatedtransitionsincludetheoften-disruptiveeventsthatoccurunexpect-
edly, such as major surgery, a serious car accident or illness, or a surprise promotion
or factory closing.
• Noneventtransitionsaretheexpectedeventsthatfailtooccur,suchasnotgetting
married, not receiving the promotion you expected, not being able to afford to retire.
Everyone experiences transitions, whether they are events or nonevents, anticipated or unan-
ticipated. These transitions alter our lives—our roles, relationships, routines, and assumptions.
Transitions such as beginning one’s first job, changing jobs, or taking early retirement appear
to have little in common, but all change a person’s life. Becoming a new worker adds a role
and changes relationships with family and others, alters routines, and affects one’s assump-
tions about self and life. Similarly, upon retirement, one’s role as a worker, relationships with
former coworkers, daily routines, and assumptions all change. It is not the transition per se
that is critical, but how much it alters one’s roles, relationships, routines, and assumptions.
This explains why even desired transitions are upsetting.
Nancy K. Schlossberg, Department of Counseling and Personnel Services, University of Maryland.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Nancy K. Schlossberg, 340 South
Palm Avenue, Suite 53, Sarasota, FL 34236 (e-mail:
160 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
Transitions take time, and people’s reactions change—for better or worse—while they
are underway. At first, people think of nothing but being a new graduate, a new supervisor,
a recent retiree. Then they begin to separate from the past and move toward the new role,
for a while teetering between the two. I interviewed a woman who retired as a doctor’s office
manager to spend more time with her husband. Six months later her husband died, leaving
her distraught. After several months, although she could not return to her last job because
she had been replaced, she knew she needed something to provide structure. Her first 6
months were extremely difficult. Everything in her life had changed. She was no longer a
wife or worker—two major transitions. Her identity, relationships, and sense of purpose
were in a muddle. It took at least 2 years for her to “get a new life.” She grieved for her
husband and realized she needed the structure of work. She went to work for an agency
as a caregiver and now works for one family. Holidays are very difficult. As she said, “My
husband’s death is still uppermost in my mind, but I can forget my pain when I am at work.”
The process of leaving one set of roles, relationships, routines, and assumptions and
establishing new ones takes time. For some, the process happens easily and quickly;
however, there are many people floundering, looking for the right niche, even after years.
The 4 Ss System for coping with transitions is designed to help (Anderson, Goodman, &
Schlossberg, 2011; Schlossberg, 2008).
The 4 Ss System for Coping With Transitions
As employment counselors, you recognize that coping with transitions takes time; however,
you have likely noticed that people differ in how they cope with what seems to be the same
transition and often cope well with one transition but feel ineffective in the next. How then
does one handle this journey, live through it, and learn from it? By identifying the features
common to all transition events and nonevents, however dissimilar they appear, some of the
mystery can be taken out of change. These features (i.e., the potential resources or deficits
one brings to each transition) can be clustered into four major categories, the 4 Ss: situation,
self, supports, strategies (Schlossberg, 2008).
Situation. This refers to the person’s situation at the time of transition. Are there other
stresses? For example, if you retire at the same time that a significant other becomes critically
ill, coping with retirement becomes more difficult. If you are offered a new job in a new city
but you are a caregiver for a parent, you might decide not to take the job, or if you do take the
job, you might be traveling back to your parent’s on a regular basis. If, however, you are offered
a new job at a time when there is little stress in your life, clearly your situation will be easier.
Self. This refers to the person’s inner strength for coping with the situation. Is the per-
son optimistic, resilient, and able to deal with ambiguity? The power of optimism cannot
be underestimated. If a work transition is not going well, an optimist can say, “This will
work out; I just have to ride out the storm.” During the current job crisis, many have been
without work for several years. Those who can frame this as an economic problem that will
eventually end will do better psychologically than will those who blame themselves. One
man reported, “Others have found new jobs. What is wrong with me?” During a workshop
I conducted, one woman said, “The economy has upended my life—no job, no prospects.”
My response was “Your life seems upended, but you have not ended.” Attitude does not
buy the groceries, but it can certainly make a difference in the quality of survival.
Supports. The support available at the time of transition is critical to one’s sense of well-being.
If a new retiree, for example, moves to a new city knowing no one, with no supports, adapta-
tion might be slow. Professional associations can clearly be a source of support. For example,
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 161
the American Council on Education established an Office of Women in Higher Education in
1973 to promote women as college presidents (see American Council of Education at http:// A
key component was the formation of a support group among female presidents to provide a
safe place for these achieving women to share their stories and concerns.
Strategies. Pearlin and Schooler (1978) classified coping strategies as those that try to
change the situation (e.g., brainstorming or legal action), those that try to reframe the situ-
ation (e.g., trying to see opportunities that might occur from not getting a promotion), and
those that help reduce stress (e.g., meditation, exercise). There is no single magical coping
strategy. Rather, the person who flexibly uses lots of strategies will be better able to cope.
If your client is coping with a troubling job change, you could ask the following: Are there
ways you might change the situation? If not, can you change the way you see the situation?
How can you reduce your stress level?
Individuals often ask questions about what they should do (e.g., “Should we move to take a job
across the country?” “Should we move to California when we retire?” and “I am 45. Is it too late
to go to law school?”). Although there are no easy answers, one can consider the 4 Ss and ask, Is
my situation good at this time? Do I bring a resilient self to the change? Do I have lots of coping
strategies in my repertoire? If all Ss are positive, moving or going to law school might be a good
decision. However, if one’s situation is problematic or one’s supports minimal, it may make sense to
delay the change until supports are established in the new community and the situation improves.
To restate, The Transition Model clarifies the transitions people experience by identifying
• Thetypeoftransition(anticipated,unanticipated,ornonevents);
• Thedegree towhichone’slifehas beenaltered(changes inroles,relationships,
routines, assumptions);
• Whereoneisinthetransitionprocess(consideringachange,beginningthechange,
2 years after the change); and
• Theresourcesonecanapplytomakingitasuccess(eachindividualapproaches
the transitions of retirement in a unique way, depending on the 4 Ss).
Applying the Model to Work Life Transitions
The strategies needed to help people with work transitions vary depending on whether clients
are moving in, through, or out. For example, a new employee needs help to “learn the ropes.”
It is helpful for companies to assign someone to act as a “socializing agent” to help employees
learn the informal as well as the formal climate. A plateaued employee needs help to “hang
in there” and revitalize. Some workers become restless and need new support and challenge
to find satisfaction in work. For others, leaving a job—moving out—is necessary. Whether
leaving is voluntary or involuntary, individuals exiting a job need help figuring out “what’s
next,” and career transition workshops can help at this point (Schlossberg, 2004, 2009).
The Transition Model provides the structure for analyzing any transition. For those
considering a career change—whether voluntary or involuntary—it is important to de-
termine if one’s resources (the 4 Ss) are sufficient to support the change. If not, consider
how to strengthen their resources. The understanding that transitions take time and that
today is not forever can provide needed perspective. The Transition Model can take the
mystery—if not the misery—out of change.
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Anderson, M. L., Goodman, J., & Schlossberg, N. K. (2011). Counseling adults in transition: Linking Schloss-
berg’s theory with practice in a diverse world (4th ed.). New York, NY: Springer.
Pearlin, L. I., & Schooler, C. (1978). The structure of coping. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 19, 2–21.
Schlossberg, N. K. (2004). Retire smart, retire happy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Schlossberg, N. K. (2008). Overwhelmed: Coping with life’s ups and downs (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Evans
and Company.
Schlossberg, N. K. (2009). Revitalizing retirement: Reshaping your identity, relationships and purpose.
Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 163
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
the chaos theory of careers
Jim E. H. Bright and Robert G. L. Pryor
The Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC; Pryor & Bright, 2011) construes both individuals and the
contexts in which they develop their careers in terms of complex dynamical systems. Such systems
perpetually operate under influences of stability and change both internally and in relation to each
other. The CTC introduces new concepts to account for previously neglected phenomena. The
CTC was formulated to address identified shortcomings in existing career theory. Early theories
had positive aspects but were partial, segmental, too rational, too individual focused, and divorced
from much counseling practice. The authors found attempts at converging the theories unconvincing.
Chaos theory has had applications across most sciences and many disciplines in the
humanities. Initially, clinical psychologists sought to use some of the theory’s concepts
to provide an account of coping with problems. We applied chaos theory to career de-
velopment in a detailed and specific way. In the Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC; Pryor &
Bright, 2011), reality is viewed in terms of complex dynamical systems in which there
is a continual interplay of influences of stability and change.
The CTC emphasizes four cornerstone constructs: complexity, change, chance, and construction.
There is a multiplicity of influences in career decision making; they are interconnected and
have the potential to interact in unpredictable ways. People are subject to a complex array of
career influences, including parents, labor markets, friends, media, cultural tradition, teachers,
gender, sexual orientation, politics, climate, and health (Bright, Pryor, Wilkenfeld, & Earl, 2005).
Although such contextual factors are increasingly recognized in career development, the
dynamic and interacting nature of these factors is underemphasized. These influences are
subject to continuous and unpredictable changes. For example, on average, the influence of
a parent on career choice has been shown to decrease over time, but the sudden death of a
parent may unpredictably alter his or her influence. Furthermore, these different influences
may interact in unpredictable ways. For example, parents who are unaccepting of their chil-
dren’s sexual orientation may also influence their children’s decisions about where to live,
their political views, or their labor market opportunities.
Complexity argues against the reductionist assumptions of the traditional theories. People
and environments cannot be reduced to static three- or four-letter codes, nor can they be slotted
into programmatic stages and cycles.
Such systems are sensitive to change because of their complex interconnections. Some of
these changes are relatively minor, even trivial, when considered in isolation, but over time
they have the capacity to cause a person to drift off course or to become stuck in a rut (i.e.,
slow shift; Bright & Pryor, 2008). At other times, we as individuals experience dramatic
change that has the potential to rearrange much in our lives (i.e., fast shift). Although people
Jim E. H. Bright, School of Education, Australian Catholic University, Warriewood, New South Wales,
Australia; Robert G. L. Pryor, School of Education, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, New South
Wales, Australia. Correspondence concerning this ar ticle should be addressed to Jim E. H. Bright, School
of Education, Australian Catholic University, 4/9 Ponderosa Parade, Warriewood, New South Wales 2102,
Australia (e-mail:
164 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
and environments change continuously, traditional theories underestimate or ignore change.
This creates a fissure between theory and practice; counselors routinely have to confront shift
in their clients and their clients’ environments with little guidance from traditional theories.
The consequence of complex connected change is the inability to predict precisely and
control what happens within the system or in other systems with which the system in-
teracts. Although chance events have been relatively neglected in career development
theories, there is good evidence to suggest that they are the norm, not the exception (e.g.,
Bright, Pryor, & Harpham, 2005; Krumboltz, 1998).
The lack of ultimate control or predictability opens up the opportunity for individuals to
become active participants in the creation of their futures rather than pawns in a rigidly
deterministic system of cause and effect.
Building on these cornerstones, the CTC has introduced to career development a series
of new concepts that include attractors, fractals, nonlinearity, emergence, and phase
shifts, all described in the following sections:
Attractors. All systems are limited, and attractors describe these limits. Identifying which at-
tractors are operating with a particular client provides significant insight into the client’s behavior
and likely reaction to change. There are four attractors: point, pendulum, torus, and strange.
Point attractors operate when a system is limited to move only toward a clearly defined
point. When water runs out of a basin through a drain, the water is attracted to the drain.
Focusing on one career goal is an example of a person captured by a point attractor.
Pendulum attractors operate when a system is limited to move only between two defined points.
People who simplify career decisions into either/or choices or swing between one choice and
the other without considering other possibilities are captured within the pendulum attractor.
Torus attractors operate when a system moves through a series of defined points that
repeat over time. People who always follow the same rules and procedures or who fall
into habitual patterns of working are captured by a torus attractor.
Strange attractors are characteristic of chaotic systems. A strange attractor limits the
system to exhibit the self-similar pattern, which is like old repeating patterns; however,
because they are not totally closed, other factors can influence the system and change
things, sometimes dramatically. The system is in constant flux between the stability
of closed systems and complete breakdown of the systems into chaos (i.e., the edge of
chaos). The strange attractor operates when the system shows emergent stability over
time, self-similarity, but also the possibility for radical nonlinear change.
The natural state for we humans is to be in the strange attractor, but we often impose
the three other attractors because they promise greater predictability and stability. Over
time, these attempts at reducing complexity to simple goals, alternatives, or rules are
very likely to break down, because we and the world are more complex and open.
Fractals. Fractals, the trajectory or trace of a strange attractor’s functioning, exhibit
symmetry over time and scale; self-similar patterns emerge over time and can be seen
at every level as we investigate deeper and deeper into the patterns. A coastline appears
as a large sweeping bay, but if one gets closer, one observes smaller inlets that resemble
the larger bay; one can keep going down to small rock pools and see similar patterns of
ever-decreasing little bays. That is self-symmetry over scale.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 165
Fractal patterns are dynamically stable—continually changing but generally in a self-
similar pattern subject to occasional dramatic and unpredictable changes. Furthermore,
these fractal patterns are not simple, easily captured, or described by conventional meth-
ods. The CTC posits that people’s behavior over time displays fractal patterns. In CTC
counseling, we counselors are trying to get an understanding of the person’s fractal—their
dynamic, complex, and ever-changing but self-similar patterns.
Nonlinearity. Nonlinear relationships are the norm, not the exception. The “butterfly
effect” illustrates that small changes in complex dynamical systems have the potential
to result in disproportionate changes in other parts of the system. Small things can have
profound effects on a career. For instance, being 2 minutes late to an important meet-
ing can result in being fired. Sometimes, very large changes can have little long-term
impact. The implication of nonlinearity is that it makes it impossible to make long-term
deterministic predictions.
Emergence and phase shifts. Emergence is the identification of patterns from the
functioning of complex dynamical systems across time and different contexts. Phase
shifts occur when a system’s configuration radically alters either quickly or slowly, as in
career discontinuities occasioned by unplanned events affecting an individual’s career.
When applying CTC in counseling, we use a range of different approaches to identify
the client’s fractal pattern. Narrative is important because this provides a personalized
account of the person’s fractal and can help to identify self-similar patterns. However,
we may also use psychometric testing because this can provide comparative informa-
tion between the person’s fractal and the rest of society. We can also use metaphor to
navigate around the fractal to see different emergent patterns from different perspec-
tives. We have also developed new counseling tools specifically for the CTC, including
the Luck Readiness Index and Complexity Perception Index (Bright & Pryor, 2007) and
the Creative Thinking Strategies Card Sort (Bright & Pryor, 2005) as well as a range of
other counseling exercises (Pryor & Bright, 2011). People and their fractal patterns are
so complex that we counselors should use as many different tools and approaches as is
practically realistic within the constraints under which counselors work.
The following are the new challenges that counselors face:
• Howcanweunderstandthedynamicsofsystems’attractors?
• Howdoessynchronyacrosssystemsaffectcareerdevelopment?
• WhataretheimplicationsoftheCTCforunderstandingspiritualconcepts?
• HowcantheCTCbetterintegratevocationalrehabilitationwithcareerdevelopment?
• Whatnewresearchmethodologiesarerequiredtoinvestigatecomplexity?
• Whatfurtherresearchofchanceeventswouldbeuseful?
• Whatfurthertechniques,tests,andtoolsneeddevelopingtoassistpeopleincon-
structing their careers in a chaotically complex world?
Bright, J. E. H., & Pryor, R. G. L. (2005). The creative thinking strategies: Manual. Sydney, New South Wales,
Australia: Bright & Associates/Congruence.
Bright, J. E. H., & Pryor, R. G. L. (2007). Chaotic careers assessment: How constructivist and psychometric techniques
can be integrated into work and life decision making. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 23, 30–45.
166 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
Bright, J. E. H., & Pryor, R. G. L. (2008). Shiftwork: A Chaos Theory of Careers agenda for change in career
counselling. Australian Journal of Career Development, 17, 63–72.
Bright, J. E. H., Pryor, R. G. L., & Harpham, L. (2005). The role of chance events in career decision making.
Journal of Vocational Behavior, 60, 561–576.
Bright, J. E. H., Pryor, R. G. L., Wilkenfeld, S., & Earl, J. (2005). The role of social context and serendipitous
events in career decision making. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 5,
19–36. doi:10.1007/s10775-005-2123-6
Krumboltz, J. D. (1998). Serendipity is not serendipitous. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 4, 390–392.
Pryor, R., & Bright, J. (2011). The Chaos Theory of Careers. New York, NY: Routledge.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 167
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
integrative life planning:
a holistic approach
Sunny Sundal Hansen
This article presents a brief description of integrative life planning (ILP), the career theory/
concept created in the 1990s by the author. It describes what she calls “the heart of ILP,”
the 6 critical life tasks and their applications.
The purpose of this article is to introduce readers to the integrative life planning (ILP)
theory/concept created in the 1990s and recently adapted. ILP is a framework to support
counselors, as well individuals, to examine various parts of life and to determine how
these parts relate to each other and fit together into a meaningful whole.
I first developed ILP while I was a professor of counseling psychology in the Depart-
ment of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. Publications on the model
include several articles in professional journals, chapters in counseling books, and a book
(Hansen, 1997). ILP is also widely included in career development courses in counseling.
Inspiration for the ILP theory/concept came from interaction with students in my career
development classes—especially female students who identified with the concept and
found the traditional matching approach to career selection (i.e., study yourself, study
occupations, and match the two) too narrow to fit the changing society and changing needs
and life patterns of women and men. They strongly identified with a holistic approach,
which is appropriate even in times of economic downturn.
ILP was introduced as a new way to look at the old tasks of selecting an occupation, pre-
paring for it, entering it, and succeeding in it, but the concept goes far beyond that. Although
the traditional approach to vocational decisions was important—and still is, when one is
on the job market as is true of many adults in the current economic climate—many profes-
sionals see the need to look at their own lives and those of their clients more holistically.
ILP is one such holistic approach. It is built on a metaphor of quilters, across cultures
and mostly women, who make comforting bed quilts to keep their families warm. The
metaphor is based on a play, The Quilters, a musical about Kansas farm women for whom
making quilts was a central life task (Newman & Damashek, 1995).
In The Quilters, stories of pioneer women are told through the quilts they made (New-
man & Damashek, 1995). As is well known, traditional quilts are made of patches; each
patch is a different pattern. In the musical, 80-year-old Sarah weaves the patches of the
story together. She has made plenty of quilts in her lifetime but calls her current patch
“Legacy,” because “I’ve got to leave something behind me.” Each patch gets a name:
Shadow; the Birth; the Storm; Butterfly; Losses; and, of course, Legacy.
The pioneer women in the musical tend crops and feed children (Newman & Dam-
ashek, 1995). Some have remained single, and some lost children to death at an early
age. Most are simple, loving, uneducated women who are very strong. One of the women,
Sunny Sundal Hansen, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota. Correspondence
concerning this article should be addressed to Sunny Sundal Hansen, 2352 South Shore Boulevard,
White Bear Lake, MN 55110 (e-mail:
168 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
Gladys, reminiscing about her late husband, says, “We was more than married; we was
partners.” And Sarah then says,
Sometimes you can’t control the way things go. You’re given so much to work with in a life—and you have
to do the best with what you’ve got. . . . But the way you put the pieces together is your business. You can
put them together in any order you like. If you make careful plans, things will come out.
Through ILP, I suggest that we are all quilters—not only in our own lives but in those
of our children and our families. We try to help them make sense of where they have
been, where they are, and where they are going. We as counselors are also quilters in the
lives of our clients and employees, and in our institutions, as we try to make them more
humane and meaningful places to study or work. Through holistic approaches such as ILP,
we can perceive, think, and act in new ways and develop new life patterns as we try to
make our work meaningful and purposeful and to feel that we all matter (Hansen, 1997).
ILP goes beyond employment counseling to help individuals look at work in relation to
other life roles, in the tradition of Donald Super (Super & Sverko, 1995) and his col-
leagues at Columbia University. Since ILP was created in the 1990s, I have written several
articles and made numerous presentations on it, mostly in the United States, but also
in countries including Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
Although ILP was developed primarily for American culture, it has been well-received
internationally, in the countries previously listed and also Ireland and Canada.
The rest of this article describes the details of the ILP framework for career develop-
ment, introducing applications across diverse settings and with varied populations. The
model has proved to be quite versatile; with each application, intervention strategies
have been developed and modified for a variety of work settings.
The ILP theory/concept is best understood by highlighting six major life tasks (Hansen, 1997).
The first critical life task is “finding work that needs doing in changing global contexts.”
Johnson and Cooperrider (1991) identified 10,233 global challenges that confront humanity
and that could easily be defined as “work that needs doing.” Elsewhere I have identified 10
global and local needs that form the context of ILP, such as the constructive use of technology.
The second ILP task is “attending to our health: Physical, mental, and emotional.” This is
such an obvious task that I am surprised that I did not include it in the first edition of ILP. We
all know that feeling healthy is central to our daily lives and that lack of good physical, mental,
or emotional health can be very debilitating. Fortunately, there are specialists in all three areas
who can help alleviate the difficulties. I became especially aware of the importance of this topic
in 1991 and added it as one of the major tasks when I found myself faced with four major health
problems. Unlike some of the less fortunate in our society, I had good health insurance, so I
could access and pay for the medical treatments needed to deal with the illnesses.
The third task is “connecting family and work.” Family is deliberately listed first, although
both aspects of life are important. It is essential for counselors to recognize the reciprocal nature
of work and family roles.
In ILP, the fourth task is “valuing pluralism and inclusivity.” Since ILP was first published
in my book, American society has made considerable progress in addressing issues of multi-
culturalism, racism, and various kinds of diversity; however, I believe that there is still a long
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 169
way to go, especially as the United States becomes more diverse with many new immigrants
from Mexico, Europe, and Asia.
In the fifth task, the focus is on exploring matters of “spirituality and life purpose,”
an aspect of life that was long ignored in career/life planning. Since ILP was introduced,
considerable progress has been made in the professional counseling literature in the
inclusion of spiritual matters so important to self-actualization and wholeness.
The sixth and final task of ILP is “managing personal transitions and organizational
change.” All the critical tasks involve personal or organizational changes, or both; these
may be voluntary or involuntary. Several transition models have been created to help
us deal with these changes, one of the most important of which is Schlossberg’s (1984)
Transition Model, described in some detail in the ILP book (Hansen, 1997) and article
(Hansen, 2001). Completing these life tasks can help individuals to do more systematic
life planning and gain control over shaping their own lives.
One of the most encouraging aspects of the concept of ILP is its demonstrated flexibility; learn-
ing how ILP has been used in various settings and with diverse populations has been a valued
surprise. Although space does not allow for listing all the ways in which the concept has been
used, the most common applications have been in higher education, especially with upper level
students (juniors and seniors). ILP has been successfully taught as a distance learning course
in the College of Continuing Education at the University of Minnesota. One of the most chal-
lenging students to me was a 57-year-old former superintendent of schools in Minnesota who
had this to say about the concept:
I did truly enjoy Integrative Life Planning and find myself still thinking about the questions you asked
during the course. You helped me to reflect on the changes in my life and how many seemingly disparate
pieces actually fit together into a meaningful whole. For example, something in my “gut” always told me
that family life was at least as important as my professional life, but your structure in ILP was a scaf-
folding I could stand on to better fit it together.
Although ILP was developed primarily for American culture, it has been a great joy to
learn that it is being used elsewhere, including South Africa, Bolivia, Japan, New Zealand,
and Australia. I hope that, given greater exposure, ILP will also be useful and meaningful in
other cultures, particularly as a tool for employment counseling. Because ILP goes beyond
the typical tasks of job seeking, I expect that employment counselors will find value in this
holistic approach. For further information, readers are invited to peruse the recently developed
website for ILP (
Hansen, L. S. (1997). Integrative life planning: Critical tasks for career development and changing life patterns.
San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Hansen, L. S. (2001). Integrating work, family, and community through holistic life planning. The Career
Development Quarterly, 49, 261–274.
Johnson, P. C., & Cooperrider, D. L. (1991). Finding a path with a heart: Global social change organizations and
their challenge for the field of organizational development. In R. Woodman & W. Pasmore (Eds.), Research
in organizational change and development (pp. 223–284). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Newman, M., & Damashek, B. (1995). Quilters. In A. Favorini (Ed.), Voicings: Ten plays from the documentary
theater. Hopewell, NJ: ECCO Press.
Schlossberg, N. K. (1984). Counseling adults in transition: Linking practice with theory. New York, NY: Springer.
Super, D. E., & Sverko, B. (Eds.). (1995). Life roles, values, and careers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
170 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
the systems theory framework
of career development
Mary McMahon
The Systems Theory Framework (STF; McMahon & Patton, 1995; Patton & McMahon,
2006) of career development was proposed as a metatheoretical framework that accom-
modates the contribution of all theories and offers an integrative and coherent framework
of career influences. In this article, the author provides an overview of the STF, outlines its
applications for employment counselors, and considers future directions.
The Systems Theory Framework (STF; McMahon & Patton, 1995; Patton & McMahon, 2006)
of career development is a metatheoretical framework, first published in response to the
convergence debate of the early 1990s, that has been described as a significant innovation in
career theory (Amundson, 2005). The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of
the STF, outline its applications for employment counselors, and consider future directions.
Consisting of a multifaceted range of content and process influences, the STF illustrates
the dynamic and complex nature of career development. Content influences depict the
holistic nature of career development through three interconnecting systems (i.e., indi-
vidual, social, and environmental–societal). The process influences, recursiveness (i.e.,
interaction between influences), change over time, and chance, depict career development
as a dynamic and complex interplay of influences.
I found it difficult to make a decision about retirement but . . . I made the decision that I retire at the
end of next year . . . I don’t want to go past my use by date . . . it’s a very physical job . . . I do get very
tired and I think well maybe that’s my body telling me . . . you can’t keep doing this for much longer.
(Janice, age 62 years)
These comments are illustrative of the intrapersonal influences of the individual system that are
central. (The individuals’ names are pseudonyms of research participants from projects related
to the STF.) Such influences include age, ability, personality, gender, and sexual orientation.
When I was originally going to be a vet nurse, one of my teachers said, “You can do better than that. You
can be a vet.” And that sort of changed my mind a bit. (Alice, age 16 years)
September last year I did work experience, and then I got work, like actual paid work out there again on
Christmas holidays and that, and last holidays and they offered me an apprenticeship. (Tom, age 17 years)
As these stories illustrate, individuals do not live in isolation. Rather, they exist as part
of an influential social system of family, friends, peers, media, schools, and workplaces.
Alice told a story of her teacher’s influence, whereas Tom told how his schoolwork experi-
ence eventually resulted in his being offered an apprenticeship.
I’m probably going to try and go to college in America, but I’ve got to find out how. (David, age 17 years)
More broadly, individuals live as part of an environmental–societal system containing
influences such as socioeconomic circumstances, geographic location, political and
Mary McMahon, School of Education, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mar y McMahon, School of Education, The
University of Queensland, Social Sciences Building, Room 617, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 171
historical influences, as well as that of globalization. For example, David, an Australian
student, was considering the possibility of studying in America.
A particular strength of the STF is its emphasis on process influences. Although each
of the previous stories provides examples of content influences, it is through such stories
that recursiveness comes to life, revealing career development as a dynamic, sometimes
unpredictable, process that may be influenced by chance. The third process influence,
change over time, is also evident in the previous stories and includes microprocesses such
as decision making and macroprocesses of ongoing and incremental change reflected in
adaptability and transition over time. For example, Janice described coming to terms over
a period of time with her decision to retire, and Ruth explained a growing dissatisfaction
with her job in the following story:
I got bored and I was developing that last project, I could do it with my hands tied behind my back it
was so easy. Everyone thought what I was doing was absolutely amazing and I was bored with it, I was
no longer excited. (Ruth, age 54 years)
Throughout life, individuals amass stories of their experiences within which life themes
are embedded that contribute to the construction of vocational identity. Although each
influence is present in the life of every individual, they differ in nature. In the STF, the
unique nature and constellation of influences is considered.
A criticism of the STF is that it does not offer detailed accounts of specific influences.
As a metatheoretical framework, however, such detail is not its intention because detailed
accounts are provided by extant career theories. In practice, detail is provided by individuals
as they narrate their stories and construct personal meaning around their career influences.
The STF is philosophically informed by constructivism, and a question asked of construc-
tivist theories is how they may be applied in practice (Patton & McMahon, 2006). Conse-
quently, great emphasis has been placed on developing practical applications of the STF for
diverse client groups and settings (McMahon & Watson, 2008; Watson & McMahon, 2009).
The process of narrating career stories goes to the heart of practical applications of the
STF and a storytelling approach being developed (e.g., McMahon, 2006; McMahon &
Watson, 2010). For career counselors, McMahon (2005) suggested attention be focused
on three levels. First, at a theoretical level, the constructs of the individual, systemic
thinking, story, and recursiveness are essential conceptual understandings. Second, at the
level of the career counseling interaction, facilitating multileveled connectedness (e.g.,
between career counselor and clients and their respective systems of influences) through
the use of story and the construction of a quality counseling relationship is necessary.
Third, at the level of the career counseling process, facilitation of the recursive dimensions
of connectedness, reflection, meaning making, learning, and agency (McMahon, 2005)
through storytelling is critical to the construction of a future story. These dimensions
are illustrated in Ruth’s story about why she liked her job as a parcel delivery driver:
I don’t know what it was about the parcel delivery. I think it was probably the first time I worked au-
tonomously. It was a lot of responsibility, there was no one working with me, just me. So I was totally
responsible for how it went and how I did it. (Ruth, age 54 years)
It is important to note that life themes are foregrounded through storytelling. Ruth’s story
illustrates how the life themes of autonomy and responsibility may constitute ingredients
of her future story.
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The STF also has been applied to career assessment (e.g., McMahon, Patton, & Watson,
2005). The qualitative career assessment instrument, My System of Career Influences
(MSCI; McMahon, Patton, & Watson, 2005), was developed after a rigorous and lengthy
research process in Australia and South Africa. Savickas (2005) described the MSCI as
a “straightforward counselling method accompanied by coherent counselling materials”
(p. iii). The MSCI was first published for use with adolescents, and it has been used in
individual and group career counseling (e.g., McMahon & Watson, 2008). Subsequently,
an adult version has been developed and tested in South Africa, Australia, and England
(McMahon, Watson, & Patton, 2010) in settings such as large public sector organizations,
corporations, and private practice, with clients of diverse cultural backgrounds including
men and women, blue-collar workers, and managers. The MSCI is a guided reflection
process in which individuals construct their own systems of influence diagram, reflect on
it, and tell their career stories (McMahon, Watson, & Patton, 2005) through which they
come to better understand the uniqueness, wholeness, and interconnectedness of all facets
of their lives and to identify the life themes integral to the construction of future stories.
In conclusion, consideration of the STF’s future is warranted. Ideally, further applications
of the STF will provide a range of evidence-based strategies that facilitate the narration
of career stories with a diverse client groups.
Amundson, N. (2005). The potential impact of global changes in work for career theory and practice. Interna-
tional Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 5, 91–99.
McMahon, M. (2005). Career counseling: Applying the systems theory framework of career development.
Journal of Employment Counseling, 42, 29–38.
McMahon, M. (2006). Working with storytellers: A metaphor for career counselling. In M. McMahon & W.
Patton (Eds.), Career counselling: Constructivist approaches (pp. 16–29). London, England: Routledge.
McMahon, M., & Patton, W. (1995). Development of a systems theory of career development. Australian Journal
of Career Development, 4, 15–20.
McMahon, M., Patton, W., & Watson, M. (2005). My System of Career Influences Adolescent version (MSCI):
Reflecting on my career decisions. Camberwell, Victoria, Australia: ACER Press.
McMahon, M. L., & Watson, M. B. (2008). Systemic influences on career development: Assisting clients to tell
their career stories. The Career Development Quarterly, 56, 280–288.
McMahon, M., & Watson, M. (2010). Story telling: Moving from thin stories to thick and rich stories. In K.
Maree (Ed.), First steps in choosing your career (pp. 53–63). Pretoria, South Africa: Van Shaik.
McMahon, M., Watson, M., & Patton, W. (2005). Qualitative career assessment: Developing the My System of
Career Influences reflection activity. Journal of Career Assessment, 13, 476–490.
McMahon, M., Watson, M., & Patton, W. (2010). My System of Career Influences Adult version (MSCI Adult):
A reflection process. Unpublished manuscript.
Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (2006). Career development and systems theory: Connecting theory and practice
(2nd ed.). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Savickas, M. L. (2005). Foreword. In M. McMahon, W. Patton, & M. Watson, My System of Career Influences
Adolescent version (MSCI) facilitators’ guide (p. iii). Camberwell, Victoria, Australia: ACER Press.
Watson, M., & McMahon, M. (2009). Career counselling in South African higher education: Moving forward
systemically and qualitatively. South African Journal of Higher Education, 23, 470–481.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 173
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
career flow: a hope-centered model
of career development
Spencer G. Niles
In this article, the author describes an innovative approach for conceptualizing and managing
career development tasks in the 21st century. Theoretical foundations and key concepts
related to career flow theory are discussed.
Career Flow: A Hope-Centered Model of Career Development (HCMCD; Niles, Amundson,
& Neault, 2011) represents an innovative model for career adaptability in the 21st century.
The model identifies the challenges that workers encounter daily and provides strategies for
addressing these challenges effectively. Moreover, the model describes an approach for career
coping and decision making that reflects the current career context, which requires high levels
of self-awareness, creative visioning, and adaptability.
Career flow is a metaphor describing the various work situations all workers encounter. Just
as a river has many currents that flow at different rates, work presents different demands at
different rates to each worker. A river has white-water rapids, still waters, steady currents, and
twists and bends. Depending on the currents and the person’s resources, navigating them can
be easy, challenging, overwhelming, or boring. Similarly, each person’s work situation has mo-
ments when work demands are overwhelming (i.e., white-water career flow), low (still water), or
occur at an enjoyable rate (optimal career flow), and so on.
The career flow metaphor helps workers think in new ways about challenges they encounter and
strategies to manage their career development. For instance, during work-related “white water”
experiences, demands are high and often push the workers’ skills to their limits. In these moments,
there are specific strategies workers can use to navigate successfully (e.g., communicate their needs
to others, identify useful resources, focus on the most important and doable tasks first, maintain
a sense of perspective, and use time and stress management skills). Likewise, each career flow
experience presents distinct challenges and requires specific responses. Thus, the term career flow
is used in a broader way than what is typically thought of as flow in the psychological literature.
Career flow is a creative framework to help people manage their work experiences more effectively.
Workers have varying degrees of readiness for coping with career flow challenges. Having
a realistic attitude toward work and possessing the requisite skills for handling work-
related challenges are skills that underlie career adaptability. Adaptability refers to the
capacity to respond effectively to new information about oneself and/or one’s situation
and to demonstrate the ability to effectively integrate new information into one’s career
behavior (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009). Adaptability is a key component of the HCMCD.
Demonstrating career adaptability, on the part of the individual, requires self-knowledge. Super
(1990) proposed that occupational choices reflect the implementation of a person’s self-concept
in an occupational role. Super further contended that the self-concept evolves over time, making
career choice and adjustment continuous processes. These assumptions indicate the need for
Spencer G. Niles, Department of Counselor Education, Pennsylvania State University. Correspondence
concerning this article should be addressed to Spencer G. Niles, Department of Counselor Education,
Pennsylvania State University, 327 CEDAR Building, University Park, PA 16802 (e-mail:
174 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
vigilance with regard to maintaining self and occupational awareness. Those choosing not to
be vigilant in this manner place themselves at risk for encountering career development tasks
for which they are not prepared (i.e., a career crisis). Accordingly, the HCMCD incorporates
strategies to develop self-awareness and work awareness, in addition to career adaptability.
Specifically, the HCMCD incorporates the following attitudes and behaviors that are needed
for effective career self-management: (a) hope, (b) self-reflection, (c) self-clarity, (d) visioning,
(e) goal setting/planning, and (f) implementing/adapting (Niles et al., 2011). These competen-
cies draw upon Bandura’s (2001) human agency theory and Snyder’s (2002) hope-focused
research. Human agency involves the capacity to develop future plans and then to implement
those plans. Having goals, having strategies for achieving those goals, and having the belief
that one can achieve those goals constitute the essential components of hope (Snyder, 2002).
Collectively, human agency and hope provide the foundation for addressing career challenges.
In the HCMCD, hopefulness relates to envisioning a meaningful goal and believing that positive
outcomes are likely to occur should specific actions be taken. Having a sense of hope allows a
person to consider the possibilities in any situation and propels the individual to take action.
Snyder (2002) described it as “the perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals,
and motivate oneself via agency thinking to use those pathways” (p. 249). Thus, there are three
components to hopeful thinking: (a) agency thinking, (b) pathways thinking, and (c) goals. These
three components link with each other. For example, if one has strategies for goal achievement
but does not possess agency thinking, then one is not likely to persevere in the face of obstacles.
Likewise, those who possess confidence that a goal can be achieved but lack strategies for goal
achievement are likely to stagnate because they lack clarity with regard to taking specific actions.
Hope is also a hierarchically organized belief system (Snyder, 2002). Those possessing a sense
of global hope believe that they are generally the type of person who can achieve their goals. Role-
specific hope relates to having the belief that goals in a specific life role (e.g., worker) are typically
achievable. Goal-specific hope involves the degree to which the person believes a specific goal can
be achieved. Those individuals lacking in hope across all three levels typically reflect substantial
levels of despair and depression. Bolstering hope can begin wherever a person’s strengths may lie.
In discussing the relationship between hope and goal setting, Snyder (2002) contended that
goals necessitating hope must fall in the middle of a probability of attainment continuum. This
continuum ranges from goals for which attainment is certain to goals that are not possible to
achieve. If the probability of attaining a goal is either 0% or 100%, then hope is irrelevant
for such goals. Therefore, goals must be meaningful and achievable but also challenging.
Having a hopeful attitude, for the individual, becomes a catalyst for identifying one or more
goal-related action steps. When people encounter insurmountable barriers to goal achieve-
ment, they must demonstrate personal flexibility to identify and pursue action steps around
the obstacles that will allow them to achieve their goals. Personal flexibility involves the
ability to change with change. That is, although specific goals may have been identified, the
person also remains open to new information that may lead to either reinforcing current goals
or developing new ones. Without hope, however, none of this is possible. Individuals would
simply give up when they encounter obstacles. Thus, the three components of hope (agency
thinking, pathways thinking, and goals) are cornerstones in the HCMCD.
Self-Reection and Self-Clarity
Self-reflection involves intentionally considering one’s evolving self-concept that is embedded
in a particular life context. Self-reflection requires intentionality relative to asking important
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 175
questions about oneself and one’s situation. Self-clarity occurs as people develop answers to
these key questions about themselves and their circumstances. The requirement to engage in
self-reflection to develop self-clarity is a task that is ongoing and lifelong. If one has developed
a reasonable level of self-clarity, then one has developed the readiness necessary to engage
in creating a hopeful personal vision of the future.
Visioning, Goal Setting, Implementing, and Adapting
Visioning is a process that involves brainstorming future career possibilities and identifying desired
outcomes. Once a sufficient list of options has been generated, self-clarity is once again used to
identify those options that are most desirable. Options found to be desirable are then focused
on for greater exploration and information gathering to develop in-depth knowledge of them.
Once goals are identified and strategies for achieving them are in place, goal implementa-
tion occurs. Implementing refers to taking actions that are in line with identified goals. Career
practitioners who work with clients engaged in implementing often find themselves taking the
role of coach (i.e., offering support, encouragement, and guidance).
As actions are taken toward goal achievement, new information is acquired that, following self-
reflection, will lead to additional self-clarity, which will in turn lead to a determination as to whether
the current course of action is appropriate or needs revising. Openness to revising goals requires
personal flexibility. Personal flexibility refers to the ability to “change with change and to be able
to adapt to it, to be able to take on new roles required, and to relinquish roles that are no longer
relevant” (Herr, Cramer, & Niles, 2004, p. 127). The dynamic interaction between the person and
the environment requires vigilance about maintaining self-clarity, ongoing efforts to understand
how the evolving self informs career goals, and the flexibility to respond in an adaptive way to
change in oneself and/or one’s work situation. Monitoring the client’s degree of hope for coping with
each of these tasks successfully is crucial for maintaining positive momentum (Niles et al., 2011).
Each of these HCMCD attitudes and behaviors are called on in managing one’s career flow. For
example, hope is needed to believe that one can manage any career flow experience effectively;
self-reflection is necessary to understand and label a particular career flow experience accurately;
self-clarity is required to understand the personal and environmental resources necessary for coping
effectively with the challenges encountered; visioning, goal setting, and planning are required tasks
for imagining a successful outcome and identifying strategies for achieving it; and implementing
and adapting are necessary for effectively navigating each particular career flow experience.
The HCMCD addresses the 21st-century career challenges that workers encounter. The
model provides creative ways for workers to consider their work contexts and offers in-
novative strategies for managing their career flow effectively.
Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 1–26.
Herr, E. L., Cramer, S. H., & Niles, S. G. (2004). Career guidance and counseling through the lifespan (6th
ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Niles, S. G., Amundson, N. E., & Neault, R. A. (2011). Career flow: A hope-centered approach to career develop-
ment. Columbus, OH: Pearson.
Niles, S. G., & Harris-Bowlsbey, J. (2009). Career development interventions in the 21st century. Columbus,
OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Snyder, C. R. (2002). Target article: Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 249–275.
Super, D. E. (1990). A life-span, life-space approach to career development. In D. Brown, L. Brooks, & As-
sociates, Career choice and development (2nd ed., pp. 197–261). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
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© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
coherent career practice
Kris Magnusson and Dave Redekopp
Coherent career practice is conceptualized as an integrated reciprocal system involving 4
core elements: career literacy, career gumption, career context, and career integrity. Within
this framework, clients are clients because 1 or more of the elements is either poorly
developed or disconnected from the others.
Radical change in the world of work (Magnusson, 1995; Magnusson & Redekopp, 1996)
coupled with an array of theoretical approaches and applied strategies to career development
may have created the most diffuse and challenging context that employment counselors have
ever faced. Unemployment rates (9% in the United States) are as high as they have been in the
last 50 years (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011). The outsourcing of jobs to international
providers in the manufacturing and information distribution industries has further eroded
future employment opportunities, and the jobs of the future are increasingly moving targets.
Miner (2010), in a provocative analysis of the Ontario, Canada, job market, has suggested
that the combined effects of an aging population and shifts in the knowledge economy will
result in “people without jobs and jobs without people” (p. 1).
We live in an increasingly complex world, and the strategies for resolving career
and employment difficulties have also become far more complex. There are three
fundamental tasks for modern career practice: to be able to identify client career
development issues that may arise from a wide spectrum of possible causes; to imple-
ment strategies or interventions that not only closely align with the real issue but also
provide a framework for meeting future challenges; and to help clients develop career
resourcefulness, capacity, and self-sufficiency in the management of their career paths.
The challenge is to bring the various services and interventions of career development
together into a logical framework that builds upon and complements each component.
That is what we mean by “coherent practice”: a systematic way of looking at career
issues that “stick together.”
Coherent career practice recognizes four interrelated elements: career literacy, career gump-
tion, career context, and career integrity. It also accounts for career integration, or the process
by which these elements are assembled and reassembled. The source of client difficulties
may inevitably be traced to a “blockage” in one (or more) of these elements or in the process
of integrating them. If counselors can identify the source of blockage, they are more likely to
be able to apply or invent interventions that deal with the real issues.
Career literacy may be thought of as the fundamental tool kit that enables intentional career
development. It is a progressively acquired set of skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are re-
lated to the acquisition, understanding, and application of information needed to manage one’s
own career development. Providing labor market information, developing job search skills, or
dealing with employability attitudes are common examples of career literacy interventions. As
Kris Magnusson, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada; Dave
Redekopp, Life-Role Development Group Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Correspondence concern-
ing this article should be addressed to Kris Magnusson, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University,
8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5A 1S6 (e-mail:
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 177
with any set of competencies, different levels of proficiency may be required to handle different
tasks or challenges. Children in school need less career literacy to choose next year’s courses
than do adults choosing their next occupational role, who, in turn, require less literacy than
does the entrepreneur who is interpreting market trends to forge a new business line. Similarly,
different kinds of career paths require different navigation skills. An increasingly complex and
demanding world produces a need for increasing career literacy and implies that a fundamental
task of helpers is to help clients develop literacy skills appropriate to their situation.
Career gumption refers to the energy, momentum, motivation, or desire to engage in career
development. This element ties together motivation, optimism, hope, and self-efficacy. People
lacking career gumption tend to be fearful and become reactive, passively waiting for situ-
ations to change, and generally staying within their own career inertia. In contrast, people
with career gumption are proactive, take initiative, and make changes. Long-term, sustained
gumption is closely linked to discipline—converting wishes into reality requires sustained
effort to a common purpose.
Career gumption is triggered by dissatisfaction (“I’m not happy, so I should do something
about it”) or anticipation (“I’m happy now, but I won’t be if I keep doing what I’m doing for-
ever or if the world changes on me”). However, neither dissatisfaction nor anticipation cause
career gumption—people can just as easily become defeated or assume postures of learned
helplessness. Developing career gumption involves taking positive stances, such as fostering
optimism (“The future will be better”), instilling hope (“Even if the future isn’t better, I’ll be
fine”), and developing self-assurance (“I can handle whatever comes up”).
Career context refers to the relationship between how one perceives the larger world (“The world
as I see it”) and how one perceives one’s immediate or available environment (“My world—the
part of the world in which I can maneuver”). For example, there is a real objective economy
out there; it only becomes a career context for individuals, however, when they start to see it—
how they see it defines what their career context is. A good career context for any individual
has three broad characteristics. First, it is creative—perceptions are not rigid. Second, it is
comprehensive and comprehensible—it is a combination of seeing lots of possibilities with an
ability to not be overwhelmed by the options. Third, it is realistic in the short term (my world)
and imaginative in the long term (the world). Career context creates the career environment in
which one’s choices are made—it’s the “ground” on which career “figures” play.
Career integrity is a meaningful balance between personal, social, economic, and community
factors. Congruence between one’s identity and the roles one plays is the essence of career
integrity. Career integrity is about choices people make; things will not always work out, but
individuals can still have strong career integrity if they feel that good choices have been made
given their circumstances. Thus, career integrity enables people to fit into a social world in
a way that satisfies both their aspirations and their conscience.
Career integrity demands a strong sense of identity and is reflected in the balance between
identity (“Who do I believe I am, and what’s important to me?”) and one’s role within career
context (“What am I doing given what’s available to me?”). For example, the individual who
takes on a less-than-perfect work role because it enables near-perfect family time is making
career integrity choices. The most common threats to career integrity are posed by the lure
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of extrinsic motivators (e.g., money, fame), the desire to fulfill someone else’s ambitions (such
as parents’ or partners’), or not recognizing one’s role in shaping career pathways.
The four elements—career integrity, career gumption, career literacy, and career context—are
interdependent factors that must cohere, or hang together. We refer to this process of coher-
ence as career integration, and change in any one part of the system creates change in all
other parts of the system. For example, low career integrity typically results in a loss of career
gumption, which in turn produces a negative spiral of career hopelessness. In contrast, a strong
sense of career integrity—of honoring who one is in the time and place that one presently
occupies—fuels career gumption, giving one more energy to act on and in the world. The
process of intentionally acting on one’s environment mobilizes career literacy—it demands
the activation of some skills and the development of others. The increased development and
use of career literacy (skills, knowledge, and attitudes) provides a broader and deeper context
for understanding one’s career context. Finally, this deeper understanding of self and self-
in-the-world and the concomitant increase in confidence serves to clarify and inform career
integrity, and the cycle—this time a positive spiral—repeats itself.
We hope this model helps employment counselors sequence their interventions to best help
clients. For example, consider clients who do not follow through on agreed-upon action plans,
returning to counseling with a litany of excuses as to why things did not work out. A deeper
and systematic look at the four elements of coherent career practice may break the impasse.
Do they have the full range of skills (e.g., résumé-writing, cold-calling, interview skills) to
get employment (career literacy)? Do they have the skills but do not feel fully confident using
them (career gumption)? Do they really see themselves performing the roles they are apply-
ing for (career context)? Do the opportunities they are applying for fit in with how they see
themselves, their lifestyle, and their life obligations (career integrity)?
We have much left to do to fully develop this model. Perhaps the most important task is to
begin mapping existing schools of thought and interventions to each of the four components.
For example, Bandura’s (1997) self-efficacy, Seligman’s (1990) learned optimism, and Herz-
berg’s (1987) explanation of workplace motivation all inform the element of career gumption.
We have also begun the important task of cataloging examples of interventions directed at
each of the elements or at the metaprocess of integration.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: Worth.
Herzberg, F. I. (1987). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review, 65, 109–120.
Magnusson, K. C. (1995). Radical change in the world of work: A counsellor’s guide. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:
Alberta Employment & Immigration.
Magnusson, K. C., & Redekopp, D. E. (1996). Radical change in the world of work: The workbook. Edmonton,
Alberta, Canada: Alberta Employment & Immigration.
Miner, R. (2010). People without jobs: Jobs without people. Retrieved from
Seligman, M. E. P. (1990). Learned optimism: How to change your mind and your life. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Pocket.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2011). Labor force statistics from the current population survey. Retrieved
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 179
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
constructing careers:
actor, agent, and author
Mark L. Savickas
When individuals seek career counseling, they have stories to tell about their working lives.
The aim of career construction theory is to be comprehensive in encouraging employment
counselors to listen for a client’s career story from the perspectives of actor, agent, and
author. Taking multiple perspectives on career stories enables counselors to offer clients
a fitting intervention, whether it is vocational guidance for action, career education and
coaching for agency, or career counseling to construct meaning.
When individuals seek career counseling, they have stories to tell about their working lives.
The stories usually tell how they have been dislocated from an occupational plot that they
had been pursuing or about how they have completed a chapter in their career stories and
need to turn a new page. Clients seek assistance from employment counselors to overcome
the writer’s block or narrative confusion that they experience as they move into the next
chapter of their career story. Once counselors understand the narrative impasse, they help
clients to rewrite and retell their stories using interventions that repair, refine, and advance
the occupational plot. However, before counselors decide how to intervene, they first serve
as an audience for the career stories that clients tell, and they listen in a particular way.
Veteran counselors follow the advice of the novelist Eudora Welty (1983)—they listen for a
story rather than listen to a story. Listening to a story means absorbing it by being passive
and receptive. Listening for a story means actively discerning it and collaboratively shaping
it. Employment counselors may choose to listen for a career story from just a single per-
spective. However, listening from multiple perspectives enables counselors to more deeply
understand clients and what they seek. Listening for stories from multiple perspectives is a
flexible and exploratory procedure by which counselors shift perspectives to learn more about
clients and better understand their situations. Counselors change viewpoints to progressively
focus a client’s initial broad story on the central occupational plot and career theme. Career
construction theory seeks to be comprehensive in encouraging counselors to listen for a story
from three perspectives (Savickas, 2011). The three narrative threads that counselors listen
for in a story are the client’s behavior as an actor, striving as an agent, and explanations as an
author. McAdams and Olson (2010), who first theorized these three perspectives on the story,
explained the viewpoints as rooted in the evolution of a self during the first 2 decades of life.
Beginning in infancy, the self performs as a social actor. Children enter the family drama and
assume a role that is shaped to a large degree by cultural discourses. Infants and toddlers
quickly come to understand the world of the family and its social discourse. They use the
categories available to them (e.g., gender, race, class, birth order) to take their place in the
Mark L. Savickas, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Northeastern Ohio Universi-
ties College of Medicine. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mark L. Savickas,
Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of
Medicine, 4209 State Route 44, Office G-124, Rootstown, OH 44272-0095 (e-mail:
180 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
family. Once they have assumed a particular position in the family, they view the world from
that vantage point and forge a social identity that others may easily recognize. Family and
friends recognize the toddler using the categories available to her or him to distinguish and
describe an individual’s personality (e.g., open, agreeable, conscientious, and extroverted).
In listening for career stories to recognize an actor, counselors use the categories available
to them as professionals. They commonly use the vocabulary of distinctions and taxonomy
of traits offered by Holland’s language of personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic,
Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Counselors ask themselves which type this actor
resembles. This objective perspective for recognizing individual differences among actors
rests on a perspective that looks for likeness and similarity. For example, interest inventories
identify which occupational groups a client resembles, and Holland’s (1997) Self-Directed
Search identifies a vector of resemblance to six personality types. Using the principle of
congruence, counselors then help clients appreciate that they should explore and enter oc-
cupations in which actors whom they resemble already thrive.
As children enter school, they begin to set more distant goals for themselves. In upper elementary
school these goals still may be short term, yet the actor as agent strives to accomplish things.
This second perspective on career stories therefore centers on how the agent sets and seeks
goals. Counselors focus on the process of an agent’s self-regulation, not the content of an actor’s
behavior. The focus takes a subjective perspective on clients’ motives and characteristic way of
adapting to social expectations and developmental tasks. In doing so, counselors frequently apply
vocational developmental theory (Super, 1990) or sociocognitive theory (Lent, 2005) because
both concentrate on agency, that is, the means by which something is done.
From the perspective of agency, counselors listen for how clients regulate their own voca-
tional behavior. In particular, in career construction theory, counselors are advised to listen for
and foster four constructs: (a) concern about the transition being encountered and awareness
of what must be done, (b) a sense of control over and conscientiousness regarding the tasks
to be performed, (c) curiosity about possibilities and initiative in job search activities, and (d)
confidence and self-esteem in coping with the transition process.
Society expects late adolescents and young adults to begin to integrate their action and agency
into a unified life story and a unique identity. They must become self-conscious authors of
the stories that they are living. From the authorial perspective, counselors listen for how a
client is unique, rather than whom the client resembles. Career construction theory encour-
ages employment counselors to take the narrator’s perspective and listen for stories about
self-making, identity shaping, and character arcs. To understand that the story is being both
told and lived, counselors concentrate on making meaning from important incidents, recurrent
episodes, self-defining moments, life-changing experiences, and memories that typify the life.
Counseling for career construction takes a specific approach to making meaning from the
career stories that clients author. The Career Story Interview asks four questions to elicit
micronarratives about the client’s typical role, preferred action setting, current script, and
favored self-regulation strategies (Savickas, 2011). Insight into a client’s typical role comes
from their description of role models whom they admired when they were young. Preferred
action settings are identified by the places that clients find interesting. To identify a client’s
manifest (not inventoried) interests, counselors ask about magazines they read regularly and
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 181
favorite television shows. The magazines and programs usually clearly reveal the occupa-
tional environments that attract the client. For example, a client of mine who was majoring in
psychology wanted assistance choosing a graduate program. She said that her favorite show
was Boy Meets World because it addresses serious life issues and making transitions with the
help of a supportive family. She also liked to watch American Idol to see how people find their
places in the world and transform themselves from everyday citizens to stars. Three years
later she was working as an employment counselor and job coach. The third question in the
Career Story Interview asks clients to retell their current favorite story, whether from a book
or movie. This narrative reveals the script that clients seek to live in the next episode of their
own career story. The fourth question asks clients to relate a favorite saying. The saying can
be heard as the client’s best advice to self right now.
It is remarkable how many clients intuitively know what they must do to bridge the
transition they face. The counselor’s job is not to interpret the stories but rather to help
clients listen for the wisdom they are authoring in telling about the self and preferred
setting, the script that they wish to live, and their own advice about how to begin to
make a way forward. Counseling for career construction does this by reconstructing a
“life portrait” for the client’s consideration and then with that client coconstructing the
next episode in her or his story.
The contribution of career construction theory is helping counselors to take multiple
perspectives on clients and then to systematically apply the fitting career intervention,
whether it is vocational guidance, career education and coaching, or career counseling.
Depending on a client’s request for assistance, counselors listen for the career story from
one or more of the three perspectives just described. If the client simply wants academic
advice or vocational guidance, then the counselor listens for the actor and uses the tradi-
tional technique of matching person to position or actor to role. If the client wants help
in exploring, decision making, planning, or searching for a job, then counselors listen
for the characteristic adaptations and then use techniques of career education and psy-
chosocial coaching to increase agency. If clients want to engage in meaning making and
identity shaping, then counselors listen for the story authored by self and use techniques
of biographical reasoning and narrative counseling to advance the story that they are
already living. A few clients may want or need all three career services.
Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments
(3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Lent, R. W. (2005). A social cognitive view of career development and counseling. In S. D. Brown & R. W.
Lent (Eds.), Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work (pp. 101–127). New
York, NY: Wiley.
McAdams, D. P., & Olson, B. D. (2010). Personality development: Continuity and change over the life course.
Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 517–542.
Savickas, M. L. (2011). Career counseling. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Super, D. E. (1990). A life-span, life-space approach to career development. In D. Brown & L. Brooks (Eds.),
Career choice and development (2nd ed., pp. 197–261). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Welty, E. (1983). One writer’s beginnings. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
active engagement and the use of
metaphors in employment counseling
Norman E. Amundson
This article illustrates some of the foundational principles of active engagement/metaphors
through the work of the author from the University of British Columbia, Canada.
My intention is to highlight some of the important concepts underlying active engagement
and the use of metaphors in employment counseling. In my work, I emphasize the impor-
tance of creativity, imagination, cultural awareness, positive affirmation, and action as
career development strategies. In my early work, I focused on the need for more dynamic
counseling practice. As my work has evolved, I find myself placing greater emphasis on
the importance of metaphors. I strongly believe that employment counselors have not
fully realized the power of using visual imagery as part of the counseling process.
Traditions and Conventions
Over the years, I have been struck by the traditions and conventions that govern counseling
theory and practice. Many of these structures are never questioned and, in time, become
part of the background of our counseling profession. In the book, Active Engagement: The
Being and Doing of Career Counselling, I challenge some of these assumptions (Amundson,
2009a). The starting point is creating an awareness of some of the boundaries that define
counseling practice.
There are many conventions that need to be explored. For example, is counseling something
that occurs only in a restricted space when people are sitting facing one another? There are
many people who would argue that it is much easier for meaningful discussions to occur in
other places, perhaps when people are walking side by side or mutually engaged in some
meaningful activity. Also, is it necessary for conversation to be continuous over a set time
frame? Perhaps some people need longer periods of reflection, whereas others could benefit
from shorter exchanges. It might also be possible to introduce reflective breaks during con-
versations as a chance for people to ensure that they are gaining the most from the exchange.
Then there is the matter of the counseling space itself. What is the impact of the background
(artwork, plants, the use of color, etc.)? Are we counselors creating spaces that put people at
ease and encourage innovative thinking? Many clients are challenged with a crisis of imagi-
nation, and we need to encourage a rekindling of the fire of imagination.
It is not so much that what is being done is improper or wrong, but it is rather that we
need to be more strategic about what we are doing. It is only when we are aware of our
traditions and conventions that we are in a place to make change. Perhaps there are other
ways of organizing career conversation so that more meaningful results can be realized.
These conversations would need to be organized in a manner that values imagination,
creativity, flexibility, and vitality.
Norman E. Amundson, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Norman E. Amundson, Faculty of
Education, University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 183
The importance of the counseling relationship is something that stands as a foundation for
most counseling approaches (Tursi & Cochran, 2006). In interpreting this component of
counseling, I have focused on the concept of mattering as first conceptualized by Rosenberg
and McCullough (1981) and later elaborated by Schlossberg, Lynch, and Chickering (1989).
Mattering refers to the beliefs that people have, whether right or wrong, that they are important
and that others care about them. These beliefs develop through what is being verbalized but
also through actions and nonverbal responses. We as individuals express mattering through
both our “being” and our “doing” (Hansen & Amundson, 2009).
The Need for a Backswing
Often when people think about addressing a problem, they imagine a process where one starts from
the problem and then moves steadily forward toward resolution. Although it makes good sense to
generate forward movement, often that movement needs to start by addressing issues of confidence
and self-esteem. I use the metaphor of the “backswing” to illustrate this process (Amundson,
2003). Whether we are swinging a hammer, a broom, or a golf club, in order to move forward we
first have to move backward to generate energy and momentum. Applying this concept to career
planning, I suggest that important benefits can be realized by first reviewing the past; identifying
strengths and sources of joy; and, through this process, restoring and building self-confidence.
In the work that I have done with people who are unemployed, I am struck by how soon
people lose their confidence during the job search process (Borgen & Amundson, 1987). In
just a few months, many people lose sight of their strengths and become anxious and hesitant
about their ability to move forward. Good action planning is only possible when starting with
a sense of hopefulness and personal strength (Poehnell & Amundson, 2011).
As I think about helping people to create change in their lives, I like Malcolm Gladwell’s
(2000) concept of the “stickiness” factor. What are we doing in counseling that is really
sticking with people? Are our clients walking away from our sessions with a sense of “Wow,
that was both interesting and helpful”? How can we increase the wow factor and make our
counseling sessions more powerful and memorable?
There are many different ways of organizing career conversations so that there is a greater
likelihood of stickiness. Often this is best accomplished by using various action-oriented
activities to generate increased involvement. I like to start by focusing on joyful moments
from any part of life. Within these activities, people come alive and express significant career/
life patterns. In working with this information, I use the pattern identification exercise, the
development of a circle of strengths, or some of the methods from the career flow approach
(Niles, Amundson, & Neault, 2011). There are many other activities that can also be used
(e.g., task analysis, card sorts, mind mapping, two and three chairs communication activity,
contextual interviewing, workplace attractors, an expanded intelligent career approach, second
order questioning). Illustrations of some of these methods can be found on the DVD series
Active Engagement in Action (Amundson, 2009b).
A good illustration of sticky conversation involves the use of metaphors. The power of visual
images (metaphors) is something that has long been recognized. Helping people to identify
184 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
and change their metaphors can be a dynamic and actively engaging career counseling
process (Amundson, 2010).
In working with metaphors, I focus on how clients introduce metaphors when attempting
to understand their situations. The creation of these metaphors can occur naturally within
conversation or they can be part of counselor-generated exercises (e.g., a metaphoric
card sort activity). Whatever the source, the process involves exploring each metaphor in
detail, expanding elements within the metaphor, considering other metaphoric viewpoints,
and searching for ways to expand awareness and build self-esteem.
Much needs to be done in order to ensure that employment counselors are making full
use of the power of metaphors. Current counselor training practices often provide little
mention of metaphors and how to use them effectively. Metaphors can play a key role in
the change process. Within the current social and economic situation, there is pressure
on employment counselors to use measures that are both effective and time efficient.
I believe that metaphors have this capacity, and it is to this end that I am addressing
many of my current efforts.
There is a strong connection between active engagement/metaphors and employment
counseling. Each of the components mentioned earlier relates directly to the provision of
more dynamic and effective employment counseling. As a starting point, there needs to
be reflection about traditions and conventions and a focus on the creation of a mattering
interpersonal climate. Building upon this foundation, counselors then need to incorporate
metaphors and other dynamic methods into the counseling process. The overall aim is
to create a situation where clients and employment counselors are fully engaged in an
active and dynamic learning environment.
Amundson, N. E. (2003). The physics of living. Richmond, British Columbia, Canada: Ergon Communications.
Amundson, N. E. (2009a). Active engagement: The being and doing of career counselling. Richmond, British
Columbia, Canada: Ergon Communications.
Amundson, N. E. (2009b). Active engagement in action [DVD series]. Richmond, British Columbia, Canada:
Ergon Communications.
Amundson, N. E. (2010). Metaphor making: Your career, your life, your way. Richmond, British Columbia, Canada:
Ergon Communications.
Borgen, W. A., & Amundson, N. E. (1987). The dynamics of unemployment. Journal of Counseling and Develop-
ment, 66, 180-184.
Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. London, United Kingdom: Abacus.
Hansen, F. T., & Amundson, N. E. (2009). Residing in silence and wonder: Career counselling from the per-
spective of ‘being.’ International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 9, 31–43. doi:10.1007/
Niles, S. G., Amundson, N. E., & Neault, R. A. (2011). Career flow: A hope-centered approach to career devel-
opment. Boston, MA: Pearson.
Poehnell, G., & Amundson, N. E. (2011). Hope-filled engagement: New possibilities in life/career counselling.
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada: Ergon Communications.
Rosenberg, M., & McCullough, B. (1981). Mattering: Inferred significance and mental health among adolescents.
Research in Community and Mental Health, 2, 163–182.
Schlossberg, N. K., Lynch, A. Q., & Chickering, A. W. (1989). Improving higher education environments for
adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Tursi, M. M., & Cochran, J. L. (2006). Cognitive-behavioral tasks accomplished in a person-centered relational
framework. Journal of Counseling & Development, 84, 387–396.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 185
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
career engagement: bridging career
counseling and employee engagement
Roberta A. Neault and Deirdre A. Pickerell
A model of career engagement is presented to help bridge the gap between career coun-
selors’ focus on supporting individuals to find meaningful work and employers’ desire for
an engaged, productive, and committed workforce.
Although a primary role of career and employment counselors continues to be supporting
unemployed clients, clients increasingly also include the underemployed (e.g., those work-
ing fewer than ideal hours or in positions for which they are overqualified; McKee-Ryan
& Harvey, 2011). At the same time, employers are concerned with employee engagement
and its link to productivity and positive business returns (Attridge, 2009). The goals of
employment counselors and employers are similar—effective use of talent and skills to
ensure the best person–job fit.
In the sections that follow, we briefly review highlights of the employee engagement
literature, introduce the Career Engagement model, and then discuss how the model
can be used by career or employment counselors and employers to strategically enhance
employee engagement through supporting career development.
Employee engagement is a popular topic among employers; the term is used to refer to the
results of the emotional and intellectual connection employees have for their employers
(Gibbons, 2006). High levels of engagement have been linked to increased productivity,
benefiting employers, and job satisfaction, benefiting employees (Hay Group, 2001).
Several themes have emerged from the engagement literature, including commitment
(e.g., intent to stay), attachment (e.g., relationships with coworkers and/or managers,
rewards and recognition), and contribution (e.g., willingness to go “above and beyond”).
What is not specifically addressed in the engagement literature, but identified throughout
the career development literature, is the importance of aligning personal and organiza-
tional values (Amundson, 1989; Brown, 2002; Hirsch, Jackson, & Kidd, 2001; Sharf,
2002). Integrating the employee engagement and career development literature, we have
developed a model of employee engagement that comprises four components: alignment,
commitment, contribution, and appreciation.
Career and employment counselors are also interested in engagement as they strive to help
individuals find meaningful work in which they can fully use their skills. We developed
the Career Engagement model to illustrate the dynamic interaction between capacity and
challenge that is required to keep individuals fully engaged in their work. The model
has been informed by Csikszentmihalyi’s (1997) work on flow or optimal experience (i.e.,
matching skills to level of challenge), Vygotsky’s (1978) work on the Zone of Proximal
Roberta A. Neault and Deirdre A. Pickerell, Life Strategies Ltd., Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Roberta A. Neault, Life Strategies Ltd.,
26907 26th Avenue, Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada V4W 4A4 (e-mail:
186 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
Development (i.e., acknowledging that learning and skill development is ongoing), as
well as our own work using career management as an employee engagement strategy
(Neault & Pickerell, 2006).
The model outlines the relationship between capacity (i.e., an individual’s skills and
attributes, availability of organizational resources, or access to appropriate supports) and
challenge (i.e., the level of difficulty or complexity of a specific activity, given the indi-
vidual’s current capacity to do the task). These two constructs form the x- and y-axes of
the graphic used to illustrate the model (see
career-engagement-new-model.html). The center of the model (i.e., where capacity and
challenge are comfortably balanced) is where an individual is successfully engaged.
Influenced by Vygotsky’s (1978) work, a dotted line within the zone indicates that the
balance is rarely perfect (i.e., sometimes there will be a slightly more than ideal chal-
lenge, sometimes less). In the full color version of the model, the engaged zone is green,
indicating that it is a positive place to be.
Viewed moving out from the engaged zone in both directions, the figure depicts the colors
of a traffic light: the color gradually shifts from green, to yellow/orange, and then to red. We
have labeled the orange zone at the bottom right of the model (i.e., high capacity, low skills)
as underutilized. This is the zone that many highly skilled professional immigrants, for ex-
ample, find themselves in when they are unable to reenter their preimmigration occupations.
The orange zone at the top left of the model is labeled overwhelmed. Individuals in this
zone find themselves with insufficient capacity (whether individual skills and attributes
or organizational resources) to successfully navigate the challenges that they encounter.
Such individuals, if the imbalance is not successfully resolved, may find that they are
less productive, are no longer able to juggle multiple tasks or complete all the work that
is required, and are at risk of stress-related illnesses and burnout.
As the orange zones become red, both the top left and bottom right corners of the model
are labeled disengaged. At this point, because individuals are far removed from a place of
engagement, it may take significant interventions to return them to a place of career success
and job satisfaction.
Counselors and employers can use the Career Engagement model to identify how
individuals became disengaged (i.e., through being overwhelmed or underutilized) in
order to properly plan interventions; an exciting new opportunity will not reengage the
overwhelmed but might work for someone who is underutilized.
As we have introduced the Career Engagement model to individual clients and organi-
zational leaders, it has resonated with both groups; it may, therefore, serve as a bridge
between career counseling and employee engagement interventions. To support career
engagement, counselors can help individuals find and maintain work that uses their skills,
talents, and attributes. Counselors can also advocate for lifelong career management by
keeping challenge and capacity in a reasonable balance through taking on special projects
or new positions to stay challenged, engaging in continuing education, or developing an
effective support system. Similarly, career counselors can help employers support career
engagement through special projects; cross training; transferring employees into different
positions; or, in some cases, facilitating a gracious exit from the organization. Through use
of this model, both career counselors and employers can support individuals to make the
necessary career adjustments to stay fully engaged.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 187
In our Employee Engagement model, we have identified four major components of
engagement: alignment, commitment, contribution, and appreciation. Each of these can
influence career engagement.
Within the Employee Engagement model, alignment refers to the fit between individual
and organizational values. As a way to assess this fit, interventions such as culture audits,
career values assessments, or coaching conversations about career and organizational
values can be helpful. Within the Career Engagement model, on the other hand, align-
ment of capacity with challenge is important.
In employee engagement terms, commitment relates to loyalty and intent to stay with the
organization. Career conversations, either with a counselor or supervisor/manager, can
help individuals identify long-term career goals and whether opportunities to successfully
achieve those goals exist within the organization. Employee loyalty in today’s workplace
tends to be more closely linked to relationships with supervisors and coworkers than to the
organization as a whole (Keller Johnson, 2005). Without the presence of positive relation-
ships, an organization risks losing employees, regardless of the opportunity, pay, or benefits.
Within models of employee engagement, contribution relates to the level of discretionary
effort employees are willing to make (i.e., going above and beyond). Career counselors
can help clients identify appropriately challenging roles and recognize the value of doing
more than is required to contribute to their own sense of engagement; a strong person–job
fit tends to inspire discretionary effort.
Fully engaged employees typically know that their work is valued and that their effort
to support the organization’s goals is appreciated. Career counselors can help individu-
als celebrate their accomplishments, value their own contributions, and recognize when
their work is being appreciated. Employers may need support in developing effective
reward and recognition initiatives, recognizing that showing appreciation goes beyond
salary increases or bonuses.
Employment counselors can help individuals maximize their career engagement at any
career stage. Facilitating career engagement, as illustrated in this brief article, can
contribute to the employee engagement that employers are looking for. As our research
continues, we also encourage others to use the Career Engagement and Employee En-
gagement models as vehicles to bridge employers’ interest in engagement and counselors’
interest in supporting the career development of individual clients.
Amundson, N. E. (1989). A model of individual career counseling. Journal of Employment Counseling, 26,
Attridge, M. (2009). Measuring and managing employee work engagement: A review of the research and busi-
ness literature. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 24, 383–398. doi:10.1080/15555240903188398
188 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
Brown, D. (2002). Career choice and development (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. New York, NY:
Gibbons, J. (2006). Employee engagement: A review of current research and its implications. Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada: Conference Board of Canada.
Hay Group. (2001). Engage employees and boost performance. Retrieved from
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Journal of Career Development, 30, 231–245.
Keller Johnson, L. (2005). The new loyalty: Make it work for your company. Harvard Management Update, 10, 3–5.
McKee-Ryan, F. M., & Harvey, J. (2011). “I have a job, but . . .”: A review of underemployment. Journal of
Management, 37, 962–996. doi:10.1177/0149206311398134
Neault, R., & Pickerell, D. (2006). Career management as an employee engagement strategy. HR Voice, 2(41).
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Sharf, R. S. (2002). Applying career development theory to counseling. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher psychological processes (M. Cole, V. John-
Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman, Eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 189
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
thoughts on theories:
annotated reference list
Amundson, N. E. (2009). Active engagement: The being and doing of career counselling. Richmond, British
Columbia, Canada: Ergon Communications.
This book challenges traditional counseling theory and practice. It also provides a rich assortment of dynamic and
innovative counseling strategies that correspond well to today’s career challenges.
Amundson, N. E. (2010). Metaphor making: Your career, your life, your way. Richmond, British Columbia, Canada:
Ergon Communications.
In this book, Amundson provides an overview of the theory and practice of using metaphors in counseling. The last
segment focuses on 40 career/life metaphors. These metaphors are used as the basis for a metaphoric card sort activity
that goes along with the book.
Arthur, N., & Collins, S. (Eds.). (2010). Culture-infused counselling (2nd ed.). Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Counsel-
ling Concepts.
This book introduces the model of Culture-Infused Counselling (CIC) including the competency domains of cultural aware-
ness of self, cultural awareness of others, and cultural influences on the working alliance. Examples of diversity and social
justice issues related to career development and professional practice are incorporated throughout. Contributing chapters
by content experts provide examples of applying the CIC model with nondominant populations.
Arthur, N., Collins, S., McMahon, M., & Marshall, C. (2009). Career practitioners’ views of social justice and
barriers for practice. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 8, 22–31. Retrieved from
This article summarizes research with Canadian career development practitioners regarding their views of social
justice, how social justice issues are linked to clients’ career development, and perceived barriers. The rationale
for the study provides a conceptual overview and a rationale for embracing social justice as a key value in career
development practices.
Bright, J. E. H., & Pryor, R. G. L. (2005). The Chaos Theory of Careers: A user’s guide. The Career Develop-
ment Quarterly, 53, 291–305.
This article summarizes some of key the elements of the Chaos Theory of Careers.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. New York, NY:
Building on research of thousands of individuals, this book on flow theory highlights the relationship between chal-
lenge and skill in achieving optimal experience.
Hansen, L. S. (2001). Integrating work, family, and community through holistic life planning. The Career
Development Quarterly, 49, 261–274.
This article, which appeared in the Millennium Issue of The Career Development Quarterly, presents a good summary
of integrative life planning—its rationale, philosophy, interdisciplinary framework, critical tasks, and an emphasis
on counselor roles as change agents.
Krumboltz, J. D., & Levin, A. S. (2010). Luck is no accident: Making the most of happenstance in your life and
career (2nd ed.). Atascadero, CA: Impact Publishers.
This book expands on the notion that it is often unplanned events that are more influential on one’s life and career
than careful planning. The authors encourage individuals to prepare for, and take advantage of, chance occurrences
to capitalize on happenstance.
Leong, F. T. L. (1996). Toward an integrative model for cross-cultural counseling and psychotherapy. Applied
and Preventive Psychology, 5, 189–209.
This article presents an integrative model of cross-cultural counseling and psychotherapy. It is argued that unidimensional
models of cross-cultural counseling and psychotherapy are inherently limited; a multidimensional and integrative model will
provide a richer and more complex approach to counseling clients from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Leong, F. T. L., & Lee, S.-H. (2006). A cultural accommodation model of psychotherapy: Illustrated with the
case of Asian Americans. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, and Training, 43, 410–423.
This article presents the cultural accommodation model (CAM), an enhanced theoretical guide to effective cross-
cultural counseling and psychotherapy, which is an extension of Leong’s (1996) integrative model. The CAM takes
the next step by providing a theoretical guide to effective psychotherapy with culturally different clients by means of
a cultural accommodation process. This model argues for the importance of selecting and applying culture-specific
constructs when working with culturally diverse groups.
190 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
Magnusson, K. C. (1995). Radical change in the world of work: A counsellor’s guide. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:
Alberta Employment & Immigration.
This guide introduces 11 work alternatives, discussing strategies to help engage clients in exploring, planning for,
and participating in the constantly changing workplace.
McMahon, M., Watson, M., & Patton, W. (2005). Qualitative career assessment: Developing the My System of
Career Influences reflection activity. Journal of Career Assessment, 13, 476–490.
This article describes in detail the rigorous process of developing the My System of Career Influences qualitative
career assessment instrument that is a practical application of the Systems Theory Framework.
Niles, S. G., Amundson, N. E., & Neault, R. A. (2011). Career flow: A hope-centered approach to career develop-
ment. Columbus, OH: Pearson.
This book builds on the metaphor of “career flow” to present a hope-centered approach to career development includ-
ing self-reflection, self-clarity, visioning, goal setting, planning, implementing, and adapting. Through this model,
experiences can be understood as “white water,” “still water,” or “optimal flow.”
Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (2006). Career development and systems theory: Connecting theory and practice
(2nd ed.). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
This book is a comprehensive textbook that introduces the Systems Theory Framework (STF). Part 1 reviews extant
theory; Part 2 describes the move toward theory integration and convergence, describing the STF in detail; and Part
3 outlines practical applications of the STF.
Pope, M. (1995). Career interventions for gay and lesbian clients: A synopsis of practice knowledge and research
needs. The Career Development Quarterly, 44, 191–203.
This article was originally presented as part of the first ever symposium on the career development of sexual minorities
at the 1994 National Career Development Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This survey of all
of the existing literature on this issue provided the basis for establishing this field of study in the career development
Pope, M. (2009). Career counseling with diverse adults. In J. G. Ponterotto, J. M. Casas, L. A. Suzuki, & C.
Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling (3rd ed., pp. 731–743). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
This chapter was the first time that this model for career counseling with diverse adults was presented in the literature,
though still unnamed. It comprehensively laid the groundwork for the Career Counseling With Underserved Popula-
tions model, which is further explicated in this issue of the Journal of Employment Counseling.
Pope, M., Barret, B., Szymanski, D. M., Chung, Y. B., Singaravelu, H., McLean, R., & Sanabria, S. (2004).
Culturally appropriate career counseling with gay and lesbian clients. The Career Development Quarterly,
53, 158–177.
This article addressed the nexus of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation in the career development literature.
Pryor, R., & Bright, J. (2011). The chaos theory of careers. New York, NY: Routledge.
This volume summarizes a decade of work on the application of chaos theory to career development. It represents an
overview of the theoretical, research, and counseling implications of the Chaos Theory of Careers and its contribution
to contemporary career development.
Savickas, M. L. (2006). Career counseling (Specific Treatments for Specific Populations Video Series). Wash-
ington, DC: American Psychological Association.
A 2-hour demonstration and discussion of counseling for career construction.
Savickas, M. L. (2009). Career counseling over time (Psychotherapy in Six Sessions Video Series). Washington,
DC: American Psychological Association.
Counseling demonstration with two clients for three sessions each, with commentary.
Savickas, M. L. (2011). Career counseling. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Comprehensive manual on how to conduct counseling for career construction.
Schlossberg, N. K. (1984). Counseling adults in transition: Linking practice with theory. New York, NY: Springer.
This book highlights strategies for counselors of adults in transition (e.g., retirement) based on the author’s transition
model. Helpful resource for counselors, counselor educators, and mental health professionals.
Super, D. E., & Sverko, B. (Eds.). (1995). Life roles, values, and careers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
In this book, Donald Super, a well-known leader in the career development field and also a leading developmentalist,
discusses his cross-national Work Importance Study project and addresses fundamental questions about the nature
of work in modern life.
journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48 191
© 2011 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
title and author index to volume 48
VOLUME 48, NUMBER 1, MARCH 2011 (pp. 1–48)
A Review of A Quality of Life Approach to Career Development, 39
A Review of Career Flow: A Hope-Centered Approach to Career Development, 37
A Review of Choices: Interviewing and Counselling Skills for Canadians, 43
A Review of Guide to America’s Federal Jobs: A Complete Directory of U.S. Government Career Opportunities, 42
Editorial, 2
International Students’ Employment Search in the United States: A Phenomenological Study, 17
NECA Highlights 2008–2010 Program Years, 45
The Role of Career Stress in the Relationship Between Maladaptive Perfectionism and Career Attitude Maturity
in South Korean Undergraduates, 27
The Role of Personality in Stress Perception Across Different Vocational Types, 3
Berg Saksvik, Ingvild, 3
Botelho, Tony, 37
Brawley, Kay T., 45
Cavazos Jr., Javier, 17
Choi, Bo Young, 27
Elliott, Joanne L., 43
Headley, Anne S., 42
Hetland, Hilde, 3
Lee, Sang Min, 27
Lenz, A. Stephen, 17
Nam, Suk Kyung, 27
Neault, Roberta A., 2, 39
Park, Heerak, 27
Sangganjanavanich, Varunee Faii, 17
Weismiller, Linda, 39
VOLUME 48, NUMBER 2, JUNE 2011 (pp. 49–96)
Examining Holland’s Person–Environment Fit, Workplace Aggression, Interpersonal Conflict, and Job
Satisfaction, 63
A Metastudy of Journal of Employment Counseling Publication Patterns From 1994 Through 2009, 81
Supporting Workplace Diversity: Emerging Roles for Employment Counselors, 72
The Use of Narratives to Contextualize the Experiences and Needs of Unemployed, Underemployed, and
Displaced Workers, 50
Bullock-Yowell, Emily, 63
Crockett, Stephanie, 81
Dahlen, Eric R., 63
Darrow, Jenna, 81
Erford, Bradley T., 81
Giguere, Monica, 81
Mondair, Suneet, 72
Neault, Roberta A., 72
Pseekos, A. Chantelle, 63
Russell, Jessica C., 50
VOLUME 48, NUMBER 3, SEPTEMBER 2011 (pp. 97–144)
Career Development With Transgender College Students: Implications for Career and Employment
Counselors, 105
In-House Career Coaching: An International Partnership, 121
Introduction to the Special Issue, 98
The Multiplier Effect of the Development of Forest Park Tourism on Employment in China, 136
Sense of Coherence Predicts Employment Outcomes After Job Loss, 100
The Transition Experiences of Successful Chinese Immigrants, 129
Vocational Evaluation: A Primer, 114
192 journal of employment counseling•December2011•Volume48
Amundson, Norman E., 129
Barfield, Hannah G., 105
Belke, Stephanie L., 105
Chan, Keith, 129
Cheng, Johnny, 129
Chenguang, Pan, 136
Flansburg, Jill D., 114
Jiahua, Pan, 136
McDermott, Debra, 121
Moser, Klaus, 100
Neault, Roberta A., 98, 121
Paul, Karsten I., 100
Scott, David A., 105
Shuifa, Ke, 136
Sun, Iris, 129
Vastamäki, Jaana, 100
Yan, Zheng, 136
Yeung, Thomas, 129
Ying, Zhang, 136
VOLUME 48, NUMBER 4, DECEMBER 2011 (pp. 145–192)
Active Engagement and the Use of Metaphors in Employment Counseling, 182
Capitalizing on Happenstance, 156
The Career Counseling With Underserved Populations Model, 153
Career Engagement: Bridging Career Counseling and Employee Engagement, 185
Career Flow: A Hope-Centered Model of Career Development, 173
The Challenge of Change: The Transition Model and Its Applications, 159
The Chaos Theory of Careers, 163
Coherent Career Practice, 176
Constructing Careers: Actor, Agent, and Author, 179
Cultural Accommodation Model of Counseling, 150
Infusing Culture in Career Counseling, 147
Integrative Life Planning: A Holistic Approach, 167
The Systems Theory Framework of Career Development, 170
Thoughts on Theories: Annotated Reference List, 189
Thoughts on Theories: Editorial, 146
Amundson, Norman E., 182
Arthur, Nancy, 147
Bright, Jim E. H., 163
Collins, Sandra, 147
Hansen, Sunny Sundal, 167
Krumboltz, John D., 156
Leong, Frederick T. L., 150
Magnusson, Kris, 176
McMahon, Mary, 170
Neault, Roberta A., 146, 185
Niles, Spencer G., 173
Pickerell, Deirdre A., 185
Pope, Mark, 153
Pryor, Robert G. L., 163
Redekopp, Dave, 176
Savickas, Mark L., 179
Schlossberg, Nancy K., 159
... The Career Engagement Model has the potential to be very useful in identifying level of engagement, and if applied to stressors related to empathy, compassion, and care, can be used to clarify the areas associated with work that are out of balance. Health and mental health care workers can strive to keep challenge and capacity in a reasonable balance by taking on special projects or new positions, and continuing to engage in ongoing educational opportunities, and by maintaining effective support systems (Neault & Pickerell, 2011). However, when things become imbalanced and workers begin to experience compassion fatigue, it is important for career practitioners to have ways to support them in becoming reengaged. ...
... Similarly, self-care practices are something within an individual's control that helps protect workers from burnout and compassion fatigue and allows those in helping professions to find satisfaction and reward in their work (Ray et al., 2013). As satisfaction with work increase, and workers begin to reengage, the result is increased productivity and job satisfaction (Neault & Pickerell, 2011), creating a positive feedback cycle in which both the organization and individual benefit. In theory, finding methods to increase compassion satisfaction will mitigate compassion fatigue (Smart et al., 2014), and this can be accomplished through the fostering of hope. ...
... Just as Amundson et al. (2013) hypothesized that students' positive expectations about the future should accompany increased engagement and vocational identi-ty as well as higher achievement, the Career Engagement Model supports that increased engagement will result in increased employee productivity (Neault & Pickerell, 2011). In health and mental health related fields, this "increased productivity" refers to intellectual and emotional connection with clients/patients, as well as with the organizational environment. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has exacted a toll on healthcare workers, who have been required to work during times of great challenge and scarcity, as well as risk to themselves, whilst continuing to provide care for others. This desire to alleviate the suffering of others puts healthcare workers at increased risk of compassion fatigue, a traumatic stress response that can develop from supporting others through emotional suffering and trying to alleviate that pain. Increased risk to this large population poses a challenge to career practitioners, who will need effective ways of supporting these workers in healing. This paper discusses conceptualizing compassion fatigue through a career engagement lens, and proposes the uses of the Hope-Centered Model of Career Development as a means of supporting reengagement. Through the reinstallation of hope, feeling of agency and achievement again become possible.
... As pesquisas têm evidenciado que os empregados que não veem futuro no desempenho de suas funções laborais costumam mostrar-se insatisfeitos e vulneráveis a oportunidades externas, bem como desenvolver afetos negativos em relação a seu trabalho (Sinha, 2020). Ao contrário, quando os locais de trabalho apresentam uma forte cultura de desenvolvimento de carreira, aqui considerada como o conjunto de atividades que definem os papéis profissionais ocupados pelo indivíduo ao longo de sua vida (Pickerell, 2013), eles estimulam o engajamento na carreira desses profissionais (Neault & Pickerell, 2011;Pickerell & Neault, 2012). ...
... O construto engajamento na carreira tem, portanto, despertado cada vez maior interesse das organizações que estão em busca de profissionais produtivos e comprometidos, na medida em que tal construto aumenta a produtividade e, consequentemente, os retornos organizacionais positivos (Neault & Pickerell, 2011). Contudo, as pesquisas sobre tal construto têm se tornado um grande desafio, em razão da inexistência de uma definição única para ele e pelo fato de ser por vezes confundido com o engajamento no trabalho (Pickerell & Neault, 2012, 2016. ...
... Nesse sentido, o engajamento na carreira manifesta-se por meio de diversos comportamentos proativos, como o planejamento de carreira, a autoexploração de carreira, a exploração do ambiente de carreira, o estabelecimento de redes de relacionamentos e o desenvolvimento voluntário do capital humano/habilidades, que objetivam intensificar o desenvolvimento da carreira (Fay & Frese, 2001;Hirschi et al., 2014;Rasdi, Ismail, & Garavan, 2011), ao preparar os indivíduos para escolhas pautadas no alcance das próprias metas de trabalho no século XXI (Chan, 2007;Porfeli, 2008;Savickas, 1999;Zikic & Hall, 2009). Logo, o engajamento na carreira aumenta os sentimentos positivos e a satisfação com as escolhas realizadas ao longo do desenvolvimento da carreira (Le, Jiang, & Nielsen, 2016;Mcllveen & Perera, 2015;Neault & Pickerell, 2011). ...
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Resumo O engajamento na carreira associa-se a comportamentos proativos capazes de intensificar o desenvolvimento da carreira. Este estudo buscou reunir evidências de validade de estrutura interna da Escala de Engajamento na Carreira e de suas relações com variáveis externas, em contexto militar. A amostra foi composta por 467 militares do Exército Brasileiro, de ambos os sexos (94,4% do sexo masculino), majoritariamente pertencentes à linha bélica (82,4%) e provenientes de diferentes estados, com destaque para o Rio de Janeiro (39,2%). Os participantes responderam a escalas de engajamento na carreira, adaptabilidade de carreira, autoeficácia geral percebida, satisfação com a carreira e percepção atual do desenvolvimento profissional, de forma on-line. As análises fatoriais confirmatórias evidenciaram que o modelo de dois fatores de 1ª ordem com um fator de 2ª ordem apresentou os melhores índices de ajustes, diferindo do modelo original do instrumento. A Escala de Engajamento na Carreira obteve correlação significativa e positiva alta com a adaptabilidade de carreira e significativa e positiva moderada com a autoeficácia, a satisfação com a carreira e o desenvolvimento profissional. Concluiu-se que as evidências de validade obtidas possibilitam o uso futuro da escala na avaliação do engajamento na carreira no contexto militar.
... Based on the above we postulate that: Task (Hirschi et al., 2014). Career engagement is regarded as having a positive influence on vocational development and exploration (Neault & Pickerell, 2011;Upadyaya & Salmela-Aro, 2015). In addition, employees' career engagement, including career management and employment skills development, may have been affected by teleworking during the pandemic due to a change in their performance. ...
... Specifically, we show how employee social well-being while teleworking during the pandemic, in terms of being part of work, communicating and obtaining support from colleagues and team members in their organisations, has a positive impact on their performance. In addition, our research extends the findings of previous studies on career engagement (e.g., Neault & Pickerell, 2011;Upadyaya & Salmela-Aro, 2015) by uncovering the relationship between teleworking performance and career engagement of employees once the pandemic restrictions are relaxed. ...
This paper fills an important gap related to employee perceptions of teleworking during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on the work/family border and task-technology fit theories, we propose and empirically test a new model using data collected from 483 employees. Our findings suggest that social well-being, work-family balance and task-technology fit during the pandemic are positively related to teleworking performance. In addition, teleworking performance during the pandemic affects employees' intention to continue to telework and career engagement after the pandemic. Also, we offer evidence of the impact of the moderating effect of factors contributing to the digital divide in this context. Our findings contribute to the teleworking literature, by proposing a model which provides insights into employees' perceptions of teleworking during the pandemic and how this affects their intention to telework and career engagement after the pandemic. Our research has multiple implications for employers, policy makers and technology developers.
... This is beyond the traditional use of counselling in addressing alcohol dependency and marital breakdown. Pickerell (2011) found out that the employees can be helped by counselors to maintain work that uses their skills, talents, and attributes in order to support career engagement and advancement. Roy (2011) argues counselling is offered to people with a problem and requires professional guidance to enable them overcome such problems. ...
... The results on whether education and awareness counselling programs helped the employees to produce more agrees with the findings of David et al. (2012) who found that the training and counselling of employees on conflict management played a critical role in enhancing performance which agrees with the findings of the current study. It also agrees with the works of Pickerell (2011) who found argued that counselors help employees find and maintain work that utilizes their skills, talents, and attributes in order to support their career engagement and advancement. The responses on whether counselling on VCT and chronic diseases management enhanced employee performance, agrees with the findings of Roy (2011) who found out that counselling services are usually offered to provide assistances to employees and enable them overcome challenges which could keep individual employees disturbed and drop in performance unless resolved. ...
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The study sought to determine the extent to which employee counselling programs affected employee performance within the commercial banks in Kenya. It was guided by positivist philosophy and used descriptive research design targeting 30,903 employees of the 43 banks. Proportionate stratified combined with purposive sampling was used to identify 395 respondents. Reliability and validity of the instrument was tested using Cronbach alpha (α) and expert opinion respectively. Structured questionnaires were used for primary data while other studies, libraries, worldwide web and organizational reports provided secondary data. Descriptive statistics and regression model was used to analyze quantitative data while content analysis was utilized to analyze qualitative data. Employee performance was found to be affected positively by the employee counseling programs (61.8%). Employee counseling programs should be enhanced to improve performance. Commercial banks should consider policy changes on employee counseling programs, and that there would be need to incorporate them in the Employment Law of Kenya. The study suggest that further study needs to be conducted on the on the other factors that affects the performance of employees at the commercial banks in Kenya since only 61.8% of the changes can be explained by the changes in employee counseling programs.
... Occupational information that students seek include stress management skills, and academic and social adjustment to technological change (Panina et al., 2020). In a study by Neault and Pickerell (2011) it is established that a lack of good physical, mental and emotional health is detrimental to individuals' occupational information knowledge. ...
... These implications might also concern Canadian career development practitioners more specifically in their challenge to assess students' and workers' relationships to working (Fournier et al., 2020), to promote clients' access to meaningful work and career engagement (Neault & Pickerell, 2011), and to help them identify meaningful activities within and apart from their working lives (Borgen & Edwards, 2019). All in all, according to recent reflections on the importance of exploring people's representations of meaningful work , we recommend including meaning of work among the key factors to account for in career development processes. ...
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We investigated the meaning of work of young adults transitioning from vocational education and training to employment. Meaning of work was operationalized as the combination of work centrality and purposes. Sixty-four young adults were interviewed at the end of vocational education and training and after their integration into the labor market. Qualitative analyses indicated that the centrality of work ranged from high to low and that their work purposes were of five types: earning money, growing, structuring life, contributing to society, and socializing. Quantitative analyses showed that the meaning of work globally did not change through the transition process, and work had a higher relative centrality for men than for women. These results stress the importance of considering the variety of functions and degrees of importance young adults confer to work when entering the labor market as well as integrating the concept of work meaning within counseling research and interventions.
... Consequently, some empirical studies have focused on investigating career engagement in different spheres, such as the organization (Le et al., 2018;Lechner et al., 2019;Luke and Neault, 2020) and education Nilforooshan and Salimi, 2016;Upadyaya and Salmela-Aro, 2015) spheres. Nurturing career engagement throughout school years might provide significant support for later career advancement in the workplace (Neault and Pickerell, 2011;Sturges et al., 2002;Upadyaya and Salmela-Aro, 2015;Thomas et al., 2010). Ideally, people prepare for their careers starting from school to higher education, and this preparation persists until people enter the workplace (Lent and Brown, 2013). ...
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Purpose This study aims at investigating the indirect effect of soft skills on career engagement through the role of psychological capital (PsyCap) in different age groups. The social cognitive theory (SCT) and job demands-resource model (JD-R) were employed to explain the effect of perceived skill mastery on PsyCap and career engagement. Design/methodology/approach The data were collected from 707 high school students, 150 university students and 165 employees using a three-wave data collection technique. This study measured soft skills, PsyCap and career engagement at different age groups (i.e. high school students, university students and employees). The data were analysed using a moderated-mediation technique. Findings The results showed that soft skills positively influenced PsyCap and eventually increased career engagement in all age groups. However, the effect was stronger for students (both in high school and university) than employees in the workplaces. Unlike most students, employees related soft skills to performance. Regardless of the effect on performance, students would be more likely than employees to perceive soft skill mastery as a source of efficacy. Research limitations/implications First, the education system should direct more attention to developing students' non-cognitive skills. Second, people should understand that their career advancement continues in the workplace context. Organizations can foster employees' soft skills by providing more opportunities to develop new skills. Originality/value This study sheds light on the importance of soft skills beyond academic and workplace performance. This study is among the few empirical investigations that reveal career engagement factors across different career development stages.
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This study aims at investigating the effect of Psychological Capital (PsyCap) on employees’ career engagement and performance in public service organisations in Indonesia. Using the Jobs Demands-Resources (JD-R) model, this study also examines the indirect effect of PsyCap on performance through the mediating role of career engagement. Participants were full-time employees from various public service organizations in Indonesia (e.g., schools). The study was advertised mainly via alumni network groups. After a three-phase data collection, 265 participants fully completed the study. The data were collected using Psychological Capital Questionnaire (PCQ), Career Engagement Scale (CES), and Individual Performance Scale (IPS) and analyzed using a Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) technique. This study found the positive effect of PsyCap on employees’ career engagement and performance. Career engagement positively mediated the indirect effect of PsyCap on employees’ performance. Drawing from the JD-R model and the work engagement perspective, this study postulated that PsyCap provided significant personal resources to help employees cope with demanding career-related activities. While employees engaged in career advancement activities, they also improved their performance. PsyCap provided the employees with psychological resources (e.g., self-efficacy) which were fruitful for their career engagement and performance. Career engagement, on the other hand, helped facilitate the effect of PsyCap on performance. This study is among a few studies that focus on investigating career engagement in public organizations. Discussion, implications, and future research directions are included.
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Approaches to career education in schools continue to be dominated by a focus on school to work or further or higher education transition planning. It is argued that as a consequence of this, the emphasis is on identifying relatively stable and singular vocational goals or outcomes. Furthermore the theories, techniques and models that support this focus characterise the world as largely stable and predictable. It is argued that these assumptions about the world and careers are increasingly questionable and this calls into question the theories and models used to support the short-term vision of transition. The Chaos Theory of Careers is introduced as a dynamical systems theory alternative and contemporary model of career development that emphasises continual, uncertain and non-linear change, complexity of influences, and emergent fractal patterns in career. The application of this approach to career education is adumbrated challenging traditional notions of career planning and goal setting, and highlighting the importance of creativity, reinvention and resilience as important outcomes of contemporary career education.
In this original and major new work, David Blustein places working at the same level of attention for social and behavioral scientists and psychotherapists as other major life concerns, such as intimate relationships, physical and mental health, and socio-economic inequities. He also provides readers with an expanded conceptual framework within which to think about working in human development and human experience. As a result, this creative new synthesis enriches the discourse on working across the broad spectrum of psychology's concerns and agendas, and especially for those readers in career development, counseling, and policy-related fields. This textbook is ideal for use in graduate courses on counseling and work or vocational counseling. © 2006 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.