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Methods of Developmental Career Counseling

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The model of developmental career counseling reflects an integration of different conceptual and substantive emphases, so too the methods of this approach constitute a synthesis of diverse counseling procedures. They have been drawn by Super and others primarily from the trait-and-factor and client-centered orientations, although the influence of developmental principles is also apparent. That the synthesis is more than a superficial eclecticism follows from Super's (1951) imaginative and meaningful interweaving of career counseling conceived as information-giving and as personal therapy. His basic premise is that people are both rational and emotional and that, therefore, "the best vocational counseling is a combination of the two, somewhere between the theoretical extremes" (Super, 1951). He (Super, 1951) then describes such a via media in terms of the kinds of questions the counselor may assist the client in answering:

"What sort of person do I think I am? How do I feel about myself as I think I am? What sort of person would I like to be? What are my values and needs? What are my aptitudes and interests? What can I do to reconcile my self-ideal with my real self? What outlets are there for me with my needs, values, interests and aptitudes? How can I make use of these outlets?" Consonant with the foci of these questions, upon both the objective and subjective facets of the client's personality and environment, are the modus operandi of developmental career counseling: its interview techniques, test interpretation procedures, and uses of occupational information:
1. Interview techniques. Because Super (1957) sees career counseling as dealing with both the rational and emotional aspects of self-exploration, decision-making, and reality-testing, he contends that, if the techniques of interviewing are appropriate and consistent, they should occur in approximately the following cycle:
  1. Nondirective problem exploration and self-concept portrayal.

  2. Directive topic setting, for further exploration.

  3. Nondirective reflection and clarification of feeling for self-acceptance and insight.

  4. Directive exploration of factual data from tests, occupational pamphlets, extracurricular experiences, grades, etc., for reality testing.

  5. Nondirective exploration and working through of attitudes and feelings aroused by reality testing.

  6. Nondirective consideration of possible lines of action, for help in decision making.
Similarly, Kilby (1949) has outlined a similar sequence of the cyclical use of directive and nondirective interviewing techniques in career counseling, and both he and Super give examples of how they can be used by the counselor to interact with the client which are too extensive to cite here. Suffice it to say that the essence of the "cyclical" approach is to respond directively to content statements by the client and non-directively to expressions of feeling. Thus, the counselor ranges back and forth among such response categories as restatement, reflection, clarification, summary, interpretation and confrontation.

2. Test interpretation. The philosophy and pragmatics of using tests in developmental career counseling which Super has evolved, as is true of his entire approach, synthesizes the best of other orientations into a coherent method for disseminating psychometrics to the client, so that they will be maximally useful. The rationale for his use of tests stems from the distinction between saturation and precision testing, the former referring to a battery of tests administered to the client usually after a short, preliminary interview (as in trait-and-factor career counseling), and the latter designating individual test administration throughout the course of career counseling. With reference to precision testing, Super (1950) describes it as: "testing which is done as part of the counseling process, to get needed facts as these facts are needed and as the individual is ready to use them. It is testing-in-counseling". As such the client is intimately involved in selecting, taking and interpreting the tests, and, as a consequence, the likelihood increases that "the test results will be accepted and used intelligently by the client". This is particularly the case if the counselor orients the client with respect to the precision use of tests in career counseling. Structuring how the process will unfold, both verbally and nonverbally, gives the client an explicit expectation of what is going to happen and counteracts the stereotype of saturation testing which many clients bring to the initial interview (Super and Crites, 1962). The thrust of using tests in developmental career counseling, then, is to maximize their value in decision making (1) by administering them in a discriminating way, and (2) by involving the client in every phase of the process.

3. Occupational information. To inform the client about the structure of the world of work, occupational trends and forecasts, job duties and tasks, and employment opportunities, traditional types of occupational information can be presented by brochures, pamphlets or volumes like the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The most appropriate information for developmental career counseling, however, is the description of career patterns in different occupational pursuits. There have been some studies of career patterns, notably those of Davidson and Anderson (1937) and Miller and Fromm (1951), but they are out of date and dealt only with occupational level, not field. Super (1954) observes that there are at least six kinds of descriptive data on career patterns which are needed for developmental career counseling:
  1. What are the typical entry, intermediate, and regular adult occupations of persons from different socio-economic levels?

  2. To what extent do 'regular adult occupations' exist, and what is the relationship between parental socio-economic level and having a regular adult occupation?

  3. What are the lines and rates of movement from entry toward regular adult occupation?

  4. What factors are related to the direction and rate of movement from one job or occupation to another?

  5. What is the relationship between occupational field and factors such as accessibility of the occupation or industry, and the possession of various aptitudes, values, and personality characteristics?

  6. What is the relationship of differences between actual and parental occupational levels to possible causal factors such as accessibility of the occupation or industry, and the possession of aptitudes, interests, values, personality characteristics?
Unfortunately, both private publishers and governmental agencies, as well as professional organizations, continue to proliferate occupational information which is largely irrelevant for developmental career counseling. In lieu of career pattern data, the career counselor must rely upon his/her knowledge of career psychology, leavened with astute observation and personal experience.

Comments. The hallmark of developmental career counseling is its synthesis of several theoretical and procedural strains, particularly the trait-and-factor and client-centered. But it goes beyond these and casts them into the context of the client's ongoing career development, which Super (1957) aptly characterizes as "co-terminal" with career counseling. Some may contend, however, that even as comprehensive an approach as this suffers from conceptual lacunae which make it less than optimally effective. Psycho-dynamically-oriented career counselors might question the basically descriptive or normative, rather than explanatory, nature of developmental concepts and principles, whereas certain behavioristically-inclined career counselors might contend that the historical focus of developmental career counseling is unnecessary, since career behavior is largely conditioned by its consequences, not its antecedents. Perhaps these are less shortcomings of commission than they are of omission. Only recently have measures of career maturity (Super, 1970) been constructed and related to other aspects of personality functioning (Crites, 1973). Likewise, conceptualization of learning models of career development has just begun (Crites, 1971), but research designed to test them has been initiated (Oliver, 1973). All of which leads to the conclusion that, although developmental career counseling may still be incomplete in certain respects, it is the most comprehensive and coherent system of assisting clients with career problems which has as yet been formulated, and it may be refined even further by articulating its relationship to learning phenomena and processes.
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