Career Development Counselling

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Career development is a process of identity development and typically spans meetings with the client over three to six sessions. The process begins with answering the question, “Who am I?” It involves the following steps:

Career development is a program to harness identity. In its simplest form, career development asks the individual undertaking the strategy to place conscious intent on discovering and uncovering the central theme or question, ‘Who Am I?’ It asks for the deliberate reflection on individual values, beliefs, biases, skills and goals so that meaningful and authentic or genuine life choices can be made. Career development is ironically less concerned with the choice of career and intrinsically places an emphasis on the evaluation of the whole person and asks them to make choices that are in keeping with their unique and honest sense of self and their genuine way of being in the world. The theory behind career development is described in the literature as a lifelong pursuit occurring across life roles and as a means to cope with a variety of career transitions [career meaning life, school, work, and hobbies], with a focus more on developing an exploratory attitude to life and to the various roles people engage in, career exploration is now seen as an adaptive mechanism that helps individuals manage rapid changes in life and work life. (Zikic & Hall, 2009, p. 181)

In career development, outside influences are purposely externalized and reflected on allowing for the person undertaking the work to decide if these influences and biases are suited to them or not. Making suitable life choices is the primary thrust of career development while personal and thoughtful assertions on the direction and path clients want to take are central to this process. Separation from external influences is seen as paramount because, career choices are affected by one’s immediate environment, parents, and social and environmental context, as well as one’s idiosyncratic characteristics such as age, gender, specific talents, interests, and values. Adding to this wide array of influences are also broader issues, such as geography and political and economic climate. (Zikic & Hall, 2009, p. 181)

Thus, career development can serve to address personalized and meaningful identity development amongst social, familial, and political pressures. It also provides for an externalization of labels so that accurate decisions can be accessed based on individual interests and strengths.  To this end, the career counsellor/ therapist can help the client wade through these external issues and barriers, to get at the heart of the person and their desires and aspirations.



Zikic, J. & Hall, D. (2009). Toward a more complex view of career exploration. The Career

            Development Quarterly, 58(2), 181-191.

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