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LGBTQ-Affirmative Career Counseling: An Intersectional Perspective



The authors demonstrate the utility of LGBTQ affirmative career counseling model by applying the model to the case of a client with multiple marginalized identities. The case illustrates the dynamic relationships among the client's cultural identities and sociopolitical environments. The idiographic career counseling process highlights: (a) identification and support of the client's strengths through use of the Strengths Inventory and (b) use of story crafting to construct a narrative describing an attainable future.
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An Intersectional Perspective
by Megan Speciale and Mark B. Scholl
The authors demonstrate the utility of LGBTQ afrmative career counseling model by applying
the model to the case of a client with multiple marginalized identities. The case illustrates the
dynamic relationships among the client’s cultural identities and sociopolitical environments. The
idiographic career counseling process highlights: (a) identication and support of the client’s
strengths through use of the Strengths Inventory and (b) use of story crafting to construct a narra-
tive describing an attainable future.
In the past, directive trait-and-factor approaches were once the interventions of choice. Recently,
more individualized (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2013; Scholl, Gibson, Despres, & Boyarinova,
2014) and less directive holistic approaches to career counseling have become ascendant (Farm-
er, 2009; Zunker, 2016). Career counseling is widely viewed by practitioners as an idiographic
process tailored to the individual client (Brott, 2001). This contemporary emphasis on individual
responsiveness led to an increased use of postmodern approaches to career counseling (Pryor &
Bright, 2008; Savickas, 2005, 2009). Moreover, the holistic nature of career counseling means
practitioners are simultaneously dealing with personal concerns (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2013;
Zunker, 2016) such as workplace discrimination based on race, gender, age, and sexual orienta-
tion, and the lavender ceiling.
Feminist and other multicultural career counseling models emphasize relationships between
sociopolitical systemic factors and individual career development (Betz, 2002; Byars-Winston &
Fouad, 2006). These progressive models demonstrate the utility of strengths-focused dialogue,
empowerment, and client-directed meaning making (Cook, Heppner, O’Brien, 2002; Zunker,
2016). They contextualize clients within their sociopolitical environments, acknowledging the
signicant impact of systemic oppression. These models represent important advancements rela-
tive to trait-and-factor models that overlook the harmful inuences (e.g., discrimination in hiring,
gender stereotyping) exerted on minority individuals by external social systems (Andersen &
Taylor, 2013).
Several career development scholars have detailed how systems of oppression inuence the over-
all functioning of persons from marginalized, non-dominant group backgrounds. One example
can be found in feminist vocational/career theory (FVCT, Hackett & Kohlhart, 2012), which is
based on the tenets of feminist therapy (Wyche & Rice, 1997). FVCT adds insight into the evolv-
Chapter 2
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ing nature of women’s labor force participation, and highlights gender-based trends in women’s
vocational experiences. Some of these trends include underrepresentation in traditionally male-
dominated elds such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Recently, women
have attained higher-level positions in government, corporate, military, and education settings
(Betz, 2006). While historians have written about the inuence of oppression on diverse individ-
uals for centuries, the emergence of scholarship regarding how oppression inuences the career
development of diverse individuals is a relatively recent trend (Rosenbaum, 1978; Scholl, 1999;
Sears & Mallory, 2011; Zunker, 2016).
The Case of Alice
The following case illustration was developed from the rst author’s work as a counselor at a
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Counseling Center in the
Southwestern United States in an ethnically-diverse city surrounded by vast rural land, includ-
ing farms, ranches, and American Indian pueblos and reservations. Although the current vignette
illustrates the therapeutic process between a ctional client (Alice) and counselor (Simone), the
client’s presenting issues are representative of the experiences faced by many LGBTQ, rst-gen-
eration Latinas living in rural areas. The counselor is a White cisgender woman from an agricul-
tural working class background and has lived in the area her entire life. The counselor specializes
in working with culturally diverse LGBTQ clients.
In detailing the course of counseling with Alice, we utilize a 6-stage model of career and life
planning Zunker (2016) recommended for use with clients who are members of the LGBTQ
population. This model represents a synthesis of recommendations by scholars (Gelberg &
Chojnacki, 1996; Kort, 2008). This model incorporates elements of multicultural, feminist, and
narrative-based career counseling theories. To highlight the underlying intersectional framework,
the following case illuminates the client’s career concerns and their broader, more holistic, life
concerns, as well as the dynamic relationship between and within the client’s multifaceted identi-
Alice was 54 years old and identied herself as a Hispanic lesbian woman. At the time of seeking
counseling, Alice had been working full-time as a plumber. From the age of 15, she had devel-
oped aptitudes in a wide range of trades, including carpentry, electrical work, and plumbing. She
described her upbringing as “traditional Mexican Catholic” and spoke both Spanish and Eng-
lish in the home. Alice was the eldest child of three siblings. Her parents, both born in Mexico,
separately immigrated to the United States when they were young adults. Her father worked as
a rancher and auto mechanic, which brought in a steady income until his death from lung cancer
when Alice was in her early twenties. Throughout Alice’s childhood and teen years, her mother
stayed at home to raise Alice and her two younger siblings and helped to support the ranch by
tending to the horses, managing the nances, and working with customers.
Alice described her family-of-origin as having traditional beliefs about gender roles, reporting
that her parents would pressure her regularly to wear more feminine clothing and to play with
other girls her age. Alice recalled her mother telling her that she needed to learn how to cook,
clean, and tend to the home or else she would never nd a husband to support her and father her
children. Her family had a strong Catholic religious identity, which led Alice to internalize mes-
24................................Career Development Network JOURNAL...................Spring 2019
sages around the immorality of homosexuality at an early age. She struggled most of her life with
self-acceptance surrounding her lesbian identity and masculine gender expression.
Stage 1: Pre-Counseling Preparation
During the Pre-Counseling Preparation stage, counselors should assess their pre-existing biases
and beliefs regarding the client’s worldviews and cultures (Zunker, 2016). Importantly, this stage
precedes the establishment of the counseling relationship. For the counselor, this process in-
volves taking an inventory of one’s knowledge about the client’s sociocultural identities, as well
as one’s corresponding beliefs about the client’s career pathways in regards to culture. The coun-
selor should reect how their specic cultural identities may inuence their ability to empathize
and understand their client, given the client’s cultural background. This emphasis on counselor
self-awareness is consistent with other major multicultural competency models, including the
multicultural counseling competencies (Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992) and LGBTQ coun-
seling competencies (ALGBTIC Taskforce, 2013).
Early in the rst session, Alice described a multifaceted identity representing a conuence of cul-
tural backgrounds. Her identity as a gender-nonconforming lesbian, a bilingual child of Mexican
immigrants, and a member of the agricultural working class converged to create a unique context
for her social location in her community and in society. Simone’s initial preparation involved
an analysis of how her own cultural identity might inuence the therapeutic relationship and
how Alice’s identities of being Hispanic, lesbian, and a middle-aged female may inuence her
comfort and feelings of safety in counseling. This stage is accomplished by both in- and out-of-
session work, including the counselor’s research regarding Alice’s relevant cultural character-
istics (including common stereotypes, histories of oppression/privilege, and historical access to
resources). In addition, Simone gathered relevant information from the client in the initial ses-
sion. We recommend that career counselors employ a pre-counseling intake form that includes
questions covering the nature of the presenting issue, as well as questions that address how their
cultural memberships impact their presenting issue and vice versa.
Stage 2: Establishing an Afrmative Client-Counselor Relationship
Zunker (2016) provided the second stage that involves the establishment of a working alliance
and development of the counselor’s ally identity, which are ongoing goals throughout the pro-
cess. To join with the client, the counselor must assume an active ally stance, which requires an
awareness of one’s own privilege and oppressive socialization, as well as acknowledgement that
systemic oppression inuences clients’ mental health and wellness. An added element to ally de-
velopment is the recognition that the counseling profession has played an active role in perpetu-
ating and maintaining systems of oppression. Counselors, as a result, should view any hesitance
or distrust (often referred to as “resistance”) the client may exhibit as normal and reasonable
(Edwards, 2006). The counselor understands that signs of client resistance are largely rooted in
external factors outside of the client, such as a weakened therapeutic relationship, fear of judge-
ment, previous negative experiences with counselors and healthcare professionals, and cultural
dissonance with help-seeking. Members of the LGBTQ community commonly experience judg-
ment, discrimination, or harassment from counseling professionals (Galgut, 1999; Henke, Carl-
son, & McGeorge, 2009; McNair, 2003). In addition, many individuals may feel guarded upon
their rst meeting with a new counselor. The establishment of a trusting relationship can require
Spring 2019..............................Career Development Network JOURNAL..............................25
multiple sessions and the client should be given optimal freedom in relating her or his story
through the use of collaborative, client-centered techniques and normalizing the client’s experi-
ences (Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis; 1992; Zunker, 2016).
Throughout the rst session, Alice described her reasons for seeking counseling, which included
her lack of employment due to being red from her job after a number of complaints were voiced
against her by coworkers. Alice had been employed as a plumber at the local university for the
past 8 years, where she was the only female and only “out” lesbian employee. She described be-
ing bullied by her male coworkers during her employment and believed that she was singled out
and red because she was a woman. Throughout the emotional telling of her story, Alice related
numerous occasions when her boss and co-workers had made disparaging comments about her
attractiveness, sexual orientation, and supposed lack of skill. Simone sought to provide adequate
space for Alice to make decisions on where and how she should begin telling her story, by us-
ing nondirective counseling skills. Alice reported feeling unable to concentrate on simple tasks
during her employment, plagued by near-constant migraines, and described feeling discouraged,
isolated, and worthless, “like a dark cloud followed me every step of the day.”
At the close of the session, Alice described feeling “lighter” having shared some of her story. Si-
mone’s nondirective approach allowed Alice to explore her reasons for counseling at the rate and
speed with which she was most comfortable. Simone’s style allowed Alice to take control of the
direction of the conversation and to gauge Simone’s response. Alice felt safe enough to describe
the pain she experienced as a result of being harassed at work, and some of her fears around her
termination and unemployment.
Stage 3: Identifying and Exploring Identity Issues and Barriers
The third stage of Zunker’s (2016) model involves exploration of the client’s issues surrounding
cultural identities and career development issues related to these identities. The goal is to under-
stand the client’s readiness for career counseling and whether more in-depth identity develop-
ment is needed. Zunker (2016) recommends drawing from multiple identity development mod-
els to achieve a sense of the client’s intersectional self-understanding. Models that specically
describe identity development pertaining to race/ethnicity (Berry, 2005; Cross, 1991), sexual/
gender identity (Cass, 1984; D’Augelli, 1994), and late career/aging issues (Kail & Cavanaugh,
2018) may be used in tandem to formulate a holistic understanding of the client’s identity. Simo-
ne invited Alice’s self-reections regarding her internal responses to interactions with dominant
group members. In addition, she elicited her sense of pride in her cultural background, internal-
izations of dominant group ideologies (e.g., heteronormativity/homophobia), and her sense of
connectedness to other members of her cultural groups (Cross, 1991). From this information,
Simone gained a better understanding of how to support the Alice in a culturally responsive way.
In addition to learning about Alice’s identity narratives, Simone sought to understand the current
employment barriers Alice faced with respect to her cultural identities. Based on information
from previous stages, Simone understood that Alice had faced workplace discrimination related
to her racial/ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender, and age, which is corroborated with
current research illustrating the prevalence of discrimination in myriad employment settings (De-
partment of Justice, 2014; Meyer, 2015). Research also suggests that discrimination contributes
26................................Career Development Network JOURNAL...................Spring 2019
to increased minority stress, increased rates of depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders,
suicidality, and social isolation (Nadal, 2013), particularly for LGBTQ individuals who belong to
other traditionally marginalized groups (such as women, racial and ethnic minorities, Muslims,
immigrants, and disabled individuals). Thus, to understand Alice’s unique workplace challenges,
Simone examined the discrimination directed at each of Alice’s oppressed identities, as well as
the “unique stressors associated with [her] dual minority status, including…multiple forms of
microaggressions,” which potentially compounded the deleterious effects of minority stress she
experienced in the workplace (Balsam, Molina, Beadnell, Simoni, & Walters, 2011, p. 3).
Stage 4: Understanding How Biases and Discrimination Limit Career Opportunity
Early Stage 4. From the Stage 3 assessment of Alice’s current level of identity development,
Simone used both Cass’s (1984) sexual identity model and Ruiz’s (1990) ve-stage model of
Latino/a identity to better understand how Alice’s current employment challenges may be linked
to her multiple cultural histories. In the rst few weeks after losing her job, consistent with
Ruiz’s Causal Stage (Stage 1), Alice struggled to see herself as worthy and capable. She feared
she had lost her pension, would soon deplete her savings, and would have no choice but to move
in with family members. Though Alice acknowledged that her employer had unfairly terminated
her due to intersectional discrimination, it was also clear that she had directed most of the blame
inward. Her internal placement of blame and alienation is described in Cass’s second stage of
sexual identity, Identity Confusion. This stage entails feelings of social alienation and grief sur-
rounding the barriers one faces as a member of the LGBTQ community. Similarly, Parks (1999)
asserts that older lesbians, having experienced a more rigid gender role socialization in their
early child- and adulthood, are more inclined to struggle with internalized messages regarding
femininity, same-sex attraction, and gender normative career decision-making. Simone invited
Alice to contemplate these internalized messages by asking her to compare the expectations she
holds about herself with expectations that she has about other women in male-dominated elds,
which allowed Alice to realize that she held herself to an unfair standard of workplace satisfac-
For several sessions, Alice acknowledged and explored previous patterns of discrimination in
both personal and professional settings. This exploration served to minimize the personal sense
of blame she felt regarding her job loss. By increasing her awareness of how discrimination has
affected her life, Alice began to experience less self-blame and insecurity about the job loss and
her single relationship status. She learned how lifelong nancial insecurity and unemployment
puts women - and more acutely, rst-generation, working class Latinas - at greater risk for expe-
riencing mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, discrimination, lower self-esteem,
higher exposure to crime and violence, physical illness, and decreased social support systems
(Belle, 1990). She could begin to see that her dysphoria was a natural response to the harassment
that she had been experiencing at work (Nadal, 2008). This awareness also helped her better
understand her years of suffering. From this increased awareness of the external factors impeding
her career success, Alice began to reframe her recent job loss through a lens of resilience, versus
Later Stage 4. Later, Simone and Alice worked to identify which social and familial messages
shaped Alice’s career trajectory, including messages regarding appropriate careers based on her
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various identities. It is in this stage that the client becomes aware of societal and familial bias
in the career selection process. The client may then begin to reect on, deny, or afrm these
messages. Clients may ascribe strong cultural meaning to career messages that appear limiting
or unfair to the counselor. The counselor’s primary role is to support the client’s introspective
process with nonjudgment and curiosity (Zunker, 2016). If contradictions arise in the client’s in-
ternal frame of reference, the counselor may invite the client to discuss these contradictions as a
potential means of resolving them. This process is related to another important goal in Simone’s
work with Alice during Stage 4, which involves externalizing the source of Alice’s problems at
work. In early sessions, Alice normalized the harassment as an inevitable part of her job and felt
as though it were her responsibility to “put up and shut up.” However, as the therapeutic alliance
strengthened, Simone was able to prompt a discussion on the external sources of Alice’s dif-
culties at work, including the individual and systemic inequalities that existed in her immediate
Alice recognized that the disparaging slurs used by her coworkers were more than playful teas-
ing. They were in fact examples of sexual harassment, ageism, and heterosexism. In response to
this insight, Simone assumed a more active, psychoeducational role in the session to describe the
existence and effects of discriminatory microaggressions (Nadal, 2008). As Alice learned more
about microaggressions, she came to understand her distress as a valid response to harassment.
She came to realize that the attitudes and behaviors of others had potentially limited her freedom
of choice and action. These external biased attitudes worked in tandem with her lack of accep-
tance of her identity, and limited her self-understanding with regard to career and life options.
As a result of realizing that her identity as a lesbian woman was not the cause of her termination,
Alice began to develop increased self-acceptance and identity pride (Cass, 1984). Through her
position as a trusted ally, Simone promoted Alice’s increased recognition that the discriminatory
treatment was unjust, and limited her access to gainful employment.
Stage 5: Collaboratively Selecting Assessment Approaches, and Plan Development
Consistent with Cass’s Stage VI Identity Synthesis, Alice entered Stage 5 with a renewed appre-
ciation for her intersectional identity, including increased pride in multiple aspects of her identity
(i.e., sexual orientation, age, and cultural heritage) and an increased sense of personal agency.
She decided to reopen her career and life decision-making process. She identied 5 primary
goals: (1) to gain a better understanding of her career interests, (2) to develop a more positive
self-concept; (3) to develop greater courage in order to cope with and overcome barriers to career
and life fulllment; (4) to identify a fullling and sustainable future career identity, and (5) to
actualize her preferred future career identity.
Most career assessment instruments have been normed using European American samples and
should be interpreted with caution when administered to clients from diverse populations (Prince
& Potoczniak, 2012). For this reason, Simone provided Alice with a collaborative egalitarian
relationship through which they consensually chose assessment approaches based upon Alice’s
Interest Assessment. Simone suggested the Strong Interest Inventory (SII; Harmon, Hansen,
Borgen, & Hammer, 1994) and she listened empathically as Alice expressed her reservations. Al-
28................................Career Development Network JOURNAL...................Spring 2019
ice stated that she did not feel comfortable taking tests. Simone assured her that the SII was not a
test and that the Inventory items do not have right or wrong answers. Further, if Alice disagreed
with an outcome, she would view Alice’s opinion as more valid than the SII results (Prince &
Potoczniak, 2012). Simone also assured her that she planned to connect the results, in a meaning-
ful way, to Alice’s intersectional identity (Prince & Potoczniak). Given these reassurances, Alice
agreed to complete the SII. Alice’s SII results indicated that she had scored high on the Realistic
theme. Alice was surprised that she scored high on the Social theme. She also scored at a moder-
ate level on the Artistic theme.
Strengths Assessment. Simone and Alice agreed that an assessment designed to increase her
awareness and use of her strengths would be benecial. Based upon Alice’s interest in develop-
ing a positive self-concept, and acting with courage in the face of barriers, they agreed upon
the use of the Strengths Inventory (Scholl, Walsh, & Perepiczka, 2014). They agreed that this
assessment approach would be useful for the purposes of assessing, nurturing, and promoting
Alice’s strengths. The Strengths Inventory is a card sort with 47 strengths, one per card, based on
Smith’s (2006) strengths-based model of counseling. This model is inclusive of diverse popula-
tions and all 47 strengths are applicable to the lives of gender and sexual minorities.
Alice divided the 47 cards into three piles: (1) procient strengths, (2) competent strengths, and
(3) pre-competent strengths. Simone asked Alice to identify three well developed (i.e., procient)
strengths and three precompetent strengths that would be useful for achieving her self-identied
goals. She asked Alice to identify three less developed (i.e., pre-competent) strengths that would
be useful for achieving her goals, and that she would like to intentionally work on developing.
The procient strengths Alice identied were integrity, community involvement, and creativity.
Her pre-competent strengths for development included courage, sense of power, and ability to
form relationships.
Co-Constructing a Future Story. Because of Alice’s multiple minority status, Simone recog-
nized the importance of employing an assessment method that would be responsive to Alice’s
lived experience. Aware of Alice’s creativity and interest in writing original stories and poetry,
Simone suggested a story crafting approach (McMahon & Watson, 2012) which she believed
would serve to clarify Alice’s sense of purpose in life and encourage her to take action. This
storytelling approach is consistent with the feminist philosophy of using narrative approaches
to externalize the client’s problem (Burns, Garcia, Smith, & Goodman, 2016). Further, contem-
porary career counselors are increasingly adopting a constructivist view, rather than a positivist
view of clients as a collection of traits, in which clients’ stories represent their identities (Brott,
2001; Cochran, 1997; McMahon & Watson, 2012).
The idea of a storytelling approach was appealing to Alice. Simone recognized the importance of
consensual agreement on the approach to assessment and achieving Alice’s goals. This consensus
contributed to feelings of safety conducive to the co-construction of progressively deeper stories
representing Alice’s present life, and achievable future (McMahon & Watson, 2012). In working
with Alice, Simone aimed to co-construct a future story emphasizing career and life possibilities.
Simone also recognized the importance of a good person-environment t. Alice would need a
supportive environment in order to actualize an “achievable and sustainable future” (McMahon
Spring 2019..............................Career Development Network JOURNAL..............................29
& Watson, 2012, p. 212). McMahon and Watson’s (2012) story crafting approach to promoting
story development includes three progressively deeper levels of awareness: (1) sharing infor-
mational stories, (2) drawing conclusions, meaning making, and interpreting the informational
stories, and (3) identifying themes and incorporating them into the future story. At all levels,
counselors ask questions to promote reection, meaning making, self-understanding, and ac-
tion planning. This exploratory process assists the client in articulating a thicker, strengths-based
narrative that is useful for guiding the client in the future (McMahon & Watson, 2012; Scholl &
Cascone, 2010).
Initially, in level one, Simone asked Alice to relate a story including her strengths and unique
abilities. In response, Alice shared how, as a 14-year-old, she assisted her father in remodeling
the family living room. Importantly, Alice realized she took pride in the fact that she and her
father completed the remodeling project together, and that she was able to select some of the
materials they used.
In level two, Simone promoted deeper self-awareness by asking Alice what she had learned
about herself as a result of sharing her initial story. Alice shared that she had learned that she val-
ued having good relationships with co-workers, nurturing others, and expressing herself through
her work. She wanted these values to be more salient aspects of her future work.
In level three, Simone asked Alice which strengths she viewed as integral to her having a fulll-
ing and sustainable future. Alice asserted that she had shown strength through persevering in the
face of insults and mistreatment from co-workers based upon her identity. In addition, she ac-
knowledged that she possesses admirable character strengths including honesty and integrity. As
a result, she viewed herself as a viable role model for minority women coping with similar forms
of discrimination in their lives. Simone asked her to say more regarding her view of the impor-
tance of good relationships at work. Simone stated that she wanted her work to t better with her
lifestyle and to include loving relationships, as well as, opportunities for creative expression, and
nurturing others. By reecting on the story she shared, Alice realized that a key to increasing her
courage and sense of power would be to develop better relationships with women who share her
values. Finally, she stated that she could see herself in a support role, helping LGBTQ
individuals in the community.
Simone and Alice were able to co-construct a thicker, more useful future story. Because the re-
sulting story provided Alice with a clearer sense of her path forward, and her desired outcomes, it
also enhanced her condence, courage, and sense of personal agency.
Stage 6: Selecting and Entering an Environment/Actualizing the Client’s Future Story
A priority at the beginning Stage 6 is for the client to dene the type of environment that would
support her future story. An important aspect of a nurturing environment is social interactions.
Accordingly, Simone assisted Alice in articulating the characteristics of the people she would
prefer to work alongside, and the characteristics of her preferred working conditions using stan-
dard worksheets designed for these purposes (Bolles, 2018). Alice began actualizing her desire
for stronger relationships by scheduling weekly potluck dinners in her home for friends and
family. When she shared that she had been red from her job, the individuals in her social circle
30................................Career Development Network JOURNAL...................Spring 2019
brought her meals, invited her out for dinner, and relayed tips on possible employment opportu-
Alice had many questions regarding her pension with the university and the legality of her ter-
mination. Alice consulted an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney. She felt a sense
of pride because this act required considerable courage on her part and also connected her with a
useful resource that could potentially protect her from suffering similar forms of discrimination
in the future.
She also became involved with a local women’s shelter doing volunteer work several nights a
week. A few weeks later, she began working part-time as a handyperson at the local community
theater and also leading a regular workshop on “Knowing your Rights in the Workplace” at a
local LGBTQ Center. The Center’s Director encouraged Alice to complete in-house training that
might lead to a paid position. Alice continued to meet with Simone once every two weeks for
support for three months. She was highly engaged in completing her nal self-identied goal,
actualizing the future story she had co-constructed with her career counselor.
Implications for Career Counselors
This article is intended to illustrate the application of the Zunker (2016) 6-Stage LGBTQ model
of career counseling with a client who possesses multiple marginalized identities. Today most
approaches to career counseling entail developing a future-oriented plan and identifying actions
the client can take to implement that plan (McMahon & Watson, 2012). Story crafting is but one
example of this approach. Other salient examples include Savickas’s (2009) life designing, and
Peavy’s (1997) SocioDynamic approach. Narrative career counseling is consistent with feminist
theory, which is designed to foster growth and development in diverse populations including
LGBTQ individuals.
The stage model is important because it exemplies the belief that counselors are obligated to
respond to the unique characteristics and needs of the individual (Zunker, 2016). Because all
clients are unique, it logically follows that career counseling is an idiographic process. Our
case illustrates the usefulness of a collaborative and responsive counselor-client relationship. In
addition, the client and counselor consensually select assessment approaches. We believe that
counselors have an ethical obligation to enact a responsive and collaborative relationship for
all clients. This is particularly important when working with clients from diverse populations.
Career counselors should be prepared to utilize a combination of formal and informal assess-
ment approaches. Formal instruments require career counselors to listen deeply and honor client
disagreement with results. Informal assessment requires counselor attitudes including curiosity,
accurate empathy, skillful use of open questions to elicit deeper exploration of themes, and co-
construction of the client’s preferred future. Responsiveness to the client is at the center of the
assessment process.
In establishing a trusting relationship, the onus is on the career counselor to initiate a discus-
sion of the client’s experiences related to their intersectional identity and having less power than
members of mainstream society. Rather than being exclusively non-directive, in working with
LGBTQ clients, it is important for counselors to serve as active directors of the process in order
Spring 2019..............................Career Development Network JOURNAL..............................31
to promote change (Bohart, 2006; Zunker, 2016). Based on the identity and preferences of Alice,
McMahon and Watson’s story crafting approach was selected. This approach is highly recom-
mended for clients with multiple marginalized identities experiencing indecision and uncertainty
resulting from a career transition such as a change in career direction.
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About the authors
Megan Speciale is an Assistant Professor at Palo Alto
University has worked as a professional counselor and advocate
in a variety of community settings, focusing primarily on
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex,
and asexual (LGBTQQIA) populations and sexuality wellness
issues with children, adolescents, adults, and families. Her
research includes feminist and queer perspectives of
counseling and counselor education, sexuality counseling
education, and issues related to LGBTQQIA populations.
Contct: e-mail: Megan Speciale <>
Mark B. Scholl, PhD, LMHC (NY), is an Associate Professor
in the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University.
He is a past president of the Association for Humanistic
Counseling, past editor of the Journal of Humanistic
Counseling, and a former chair of the ACA Council of Journal
Editors. He is a member of the ACA Governing Council
representing the AHC division. He, and his coeditors, received
the Hollis Publication Award for their book entitled Humanistic Perspec-
tives on Contemporary Counseling Issues. He recently co-authored a book with Oxford Press
titled Postmodern Perspectives on Contemporary Counseling Issues, and has published articles
on the use of postmodern career counseling in the Career Development Quarterly and the Career
Planning and Adult Development Journal.
Contact: e-mail: Mark Scholl <>
... In the scope of school counseling practices and school climates, attempts to eradicate one form of oppression without considering intersecting power relations and forms of oppression can hinder intentional efforts for collective change and action (Collins & Bilge, 2020). In the context of career development, school counselors often craft a litany of interventions to address single cultural groups and social identities rather than explore intersections of structural inequities and gaps in identity representation (Chan, 2019;Speciale & Scholl, 2019). According to Speciale and Scholl (2019), without the lens of intersectionality, students lack a space to broach the connections among identities that ultimately produce holistic career experiences and embrace different forms of cultural capital. ...
... In the context of career development, school counselors often craft a litany of interventions to address single cultural groups and social identities rather than explore intersections of structural inequities and gaps in identity representation (Chan, 2019;Speciale & Scholl, 2019). According to Speciale and Scholl (2019), without the lens of intersectionality, students lack a space to broach the connections among identities that ultimately produce holistic career experiences and embrace different forms of cultural capital. This approach is ultimately problematic for historically marginalized students because it leaves out complex cultural nuances and fails to hold school professionals accountable for interventions in response to the effects of COVID-19. ...
... In this vein, intersectionality breeds possibilities to embrace social identities as forms of love, cultural assets, and resilience, given that intersectionality makes individuals more conscious about hierarchies of power (see Love, 2017;Singh, 2013Singh, , 2019. Individuals are able to cultivate a possibility of selfdetermination with which they can define their own realities, experiences, commitment, and interest in career pathways (Speciale & Scholl, 2019). For school counselors, explicitly affirming these intersections can elicit meaningful cultural interactions, allow spaces for naming trauma and loss, and provide opportunities for hope in career development (Kang et al., 2015). ...
The school counseling profession has an ethical responsibility to provide and advocate for individual students’ career planning and development, while expanding school counselors’ own multicultural and social justice advocacy to become effective culturally competent professionals. Additional literature is needed to identify how school counselors can adapt their career counseling approaches to fit the unique challenges and barriers of historically marginalized students both during and after the global COVID-19 pandemic. We describe how school counselors can use intersectionality theory as a framework for career development with marginalized populations in response to COVID-19 and its impact on the economic decline.
... LGBT 3 community (Schneider & Auten, 2019), their unique career and employment challenges impact their capacity to advance their income and raise their status and are hardly comparable to those of cisgender 4 women and men (Law et al., 2011;Pepper & Lorah, 2008;Speciale & Scholl, 2019). ...
... To make matters worse, the career development literature indicates how anticipated discomfort (Datti, 2009) and pessimism about the future (Thoroughgood et al., 2017) coalesce, creating fears that undermine the confidence trans persons have in their abilities to be successful at work, thus preventing them from pursuing their preferred careers (Dickey et al., 2016;Speciale & Scholl, 2019;Throughgood et al., 2020). While broadening the discussion to all ...
... Against this backdrop, it has become clear that advocacy groups, together with counselors and allies, have a major role to play in supporting trans and LGB persons, by advising them about how to select and prepare for their career (Fletcher & Marvell, 2022;Kirk & Belovics, 2008;O'Neil et al., 2008;Pepper & Lorah, 2008;Speciale & Scholl, 2019). Scott et al. (2011, p. 109), for instance, illustrate the case of "Out for Work," an advocacy group in the United States that, according to its mission statement, helps "LGBT students transition from college and academia into careers" through "workshops, conferences, and even an online resumé critique via e-mail." ...
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Careers are fundamental in progressing gender and income equality as key objectives of sustainable development. However, transgender persons often face unique challenges that prevent them from advancing in the world of work. This article elaborates upon the case of “Trans for Career Thailand,” an advocacy group established during the COVID‐19 pandemic with the purpose of offering career and employment opportunities to all transgender persons. Through primary and secondary data, the findings elucidate how “Trans for Career Thailand” uses its social media presence to build career knowledge, a community of career professionals and, finally, a trans career movement. This article shines a spotlight on the careers of transgender persons as a point of departure for advancing gender and income equality. Hence, it contributes to career development literature while offering important recommendations for sustainable development, employment policies, and advocacy groups.
Individuals seeking counseling might not recognize the interconnectedness of health, mental health, work, and life concerns. Counselors, however, need to be mindful that a person's wellness is interwoven with their work, life roles, and health. Research supports the interrelationship of career development and mental health as well as the effectiveness of an integrated approach to mental health and career counseling. An integrated approach from an ecological counseling perspective is proposed for conceptualizing client issues and intervention strategies.
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This study with 20 adults explored adding career biographies and career narrative writing to the career interest assessment report process. Participants reported that biographies and narratives helped them identify themes to consider how their career plans fit their personal lifestyle, meaning making, and values. This study offers 1 way to incorporate narratives and story to explore the self and self-in-context to activate meaning-making processes in career interest assessment reports. Until career interest assessment reports include career biographies and a process for writing career narratives, only career counselors can offer this type of service to clients.
Full-text available
This chapter reviews the literature on feminist vocational/career theory and practice. In particular, it reviews the theory and research on the major career development theories focused on career choice and critiques their applicability for understanding women's vocational behavior. Major theories reviewed include Holland's person-environment theory, Super's developmental career theory, and social cognitive career theory. Coverage of career development theories that were developed specifically to account for women's vocational behavior and that influence the dominant theories of today are also included, namely, Gottfredson's theory of circumscription and compromise, as well as models proposed by Farmer, Astin, Betz & Fitzgerald, and Fassinger. Research on the applicability of the various theories with respect to diverse groups of women is addressed; issues in the extant empirical literature are explored; and limitations of the theories are discussed. The heuristic value of the various theories for guiding career interventions is discussed.
Violence against lesbians and gay men has increasingly captured media and scholarly attention. But these reports tend to focus on one segment of the LGBT community-white, middle class men-and largely ignore that part of the community that arguably suffers a larger share of the violence-racial minorities, the poor, and women. In Violence against Queer People, sociologist Doug Meyer offers the first investigation of anti-queer violence that focuses on the role played by race, class, and gender. Drawing on interviews with forty-seven victims of violence, Meyer shows that LGBT people encounter significantly different forms of violence-and perceive that violence quite differently-based on their race, class, and gender. His research highlights the extent to which other forms of discrimination-including racism and sexism-shape LGBT people's experience of abuse. He reports, for instance, that lesbian and transgender women often described violent incidents in which a sexual or a misogynistic component was introduced, and that LGBT people of color sometimes weren't sure if anti-queer violence was based solely on their sexuality or whether racism or sexism had also played a role. Meyer observes that given the many differences in how anti-queer violence is experienced, the present media focus on white, middle-class victims greatly oversimplifies and distorts the nature of anti-queer violence. In fact, attempts to reduce anti-queer violence that ignore race, class, and gender run the risk of helping only the most privileged gay subjects. Many feel that the struggle for gay rights has largely been accomplished and the tide of history has swung in favor of LGBT equality. Violence against Queer People, on the contrary, argues that the lives of many LGBT people-particularly the most vulnerable-have improved very little, if at all, over the past thirty years.