1. Diagnosis. Goodstein (1972) attributes a central role to anxiety in the etiology of behavioral problems in general, and career choice problems in particular. He makes a detailed analysis of the part which anxiety can play, both as an antecedent and a consequent, in career indecision. He distinguishes between what might be called simple indecision and pervasive indecisiveness (Tyler, 1961). The principal etiological factors in simple indecision, according to Goodstein, is lack of information about self and work due to a limitation of experience, much as is assumed in the classical trait-and-factor approach. The client cannot make a choice, or possibly makes an unrealistic one, and as a consequence feels anxious about not having mastered the career developmental task (often expressed socially as "What are you going to do when you grow up?") of declaring an appropriate vocation. Note that in this process the anxiety is a consequent, not an antecedent, of the indecision. In contrast, indecisiveness arises from long-standing anxiety associated with decision making which precedes the task of career choice. It is not infrequently attributed by clients to domineering or over-demanding parents. For this individual, who is often paralyzed in making any kind of choice, anxiety also follows failure to decide upon a career, i.e., it is both an antecedent and a consequent, thereby compounding the client's feelings of discomfort and inadequacy. Goodstein (1972) concludes that: "One of the goals of diagnosis in counseling and therapy with such cases is the identification of the cues that arouse this anxiety so that the anxiety can be eliminated or reduced, permitting the client to now learn appropriate skills".
Krumboltz and Thoresen (1969) and their associates seldom mention either anxiety or diagnosis in their pragmatically-oriented version of behavioral career counseling. Rather, they prefer the rubrics behavioral analysis or problem identification, and they closely relate these to the specification of goals for counseling. That is, the client's difficulties are complementary to the goals ("outcomes") which client and counselor strive to achieve through their interactions with each other. Thus, if the client's presenting problem is that he/she has "no career choice," then the goal of the career counseling is to make a career choice. Krumboltz and Thoresen (1969) enumerate seven general categories of problems ("difficulties in formulating goals") which may beset clients in counseling:
- The problem is someone else's behavior.
- The problem is expressed as a feeling.
- The problem is the absence of a goal.
- The problem is that the desired behavior is undesirable.
- The problem is that the client does not know his behavior is inappropriate.
- The problem is a choice conflict.
- The problem is a vested interest in not identifying any problem.
2. Process. In the behavioral-theoret/c view of career counseling, if it is determined diagnostically that a client's decision-making problems are a function of antecedent anxiety, then it is assumed that this anxiety must be eliminated before effective cognitive consideration of career choice can be undertaken. In other words, the elimination of anxiety is a sine qua non for subsequent career decision making. In this case, then, the process of career counseling has two stages, much as Shoben (1949) has proposed for psychotherapy: during the first, the counselor attempts to eliminate the anxiety associated with decision making, whether career or otherwise, primarily through counter-conditioning it; and in the second, after the client has been freed of the interfering effects of anxiety, instrumental learning can occur, in which the client can acquire those responses, for example, information seeking, needed to choose a career. If the client's problem is one of simple indecision, however, with no evidence of debilitating previous anxiety, then career counseling would begin with stage two, instrumental learning. What this client needs to learn is how to make a career choice, which options are available to him/her, what the consequences of each are, etc.-in short, to be exposed to the experiences which have not been available in his/her prior career development. Thus, the process of career counseling, as deduced from behavior theory primarily by Goodstein (1972), varies with the etiology of the client's problem: if it involves antecedent anxiety there are the two stages of counter-conditioning and instrumental learning, but if it stems from limited decision-making experiences, it consists only of instrumental learning.
Juxtaposed to this model is that of Krumboltz, Thoresen and others, the most recent exposition of which has been summarized by Krumboltz and Baker (1973), who outline eight steps taken by the counselor and client in the course of career counseling:
- Defining the problem and the client's goals.
- Agreeing mutually to achieve counseling goals.
- Generating alternative problem solutions.
- Collecting information about the alternatives.
- Examining the consequences of the alternatives.
- Revaluing goals, alternatives and consequences.
- Making the decision or tentatively selecting an alternative contingent upon new developments and new opportunities.
- Generalizing the decision-making process to new problems.
3. Outcomes. The two hypothesized outcomes of behavioral-theoretic career counseling are (1) elimination or reduction of both antecedent and consequent anxiety, and/or (2) acquisition of decision-making skills. Whether both outcomes are expected depends upon the extent to which anxiety preceded the emergence of the client's problem, as mentioned previously. An experimental paradigm for evaluating the effectiveness of this variety of behavioral counseling has been designed (Crites, 1969) but not yet utilized in research. The goals of behavioral-pragmatic career counseling are akin to the general one of skill acquisition but are more idiosyncratic. Krumboltz (1966) states that any set of goals for counseling should satisfy three criteria:
- The goals of counseling should be capable of being stated differently for each individual client...
- The goals of counseling for each client should be compatible with, though not necessarily identical to, the values of the counselor...
- The degree to which the goals of counseling are attained by each client should be observable... (Italics in original).