Prescreening, In-Depth Exploration, and Choice: From Decision Theory to Career Counseling Practice

Article excerpt

The authors present a 3-stage model-Prescreening, In-depth exploration, and Choice (PIC)-aimed at increasing the quality of the career decision-making process and its outcome. PIC provides a framework for a dynamic and interactive process that emphasizes the role of career counselors as decision counselors, whose aim is to facilitate an active decision-making process. The proposed model offers the advantages of systematic, analytical processing, while remaining compatible with individuals' natural way of thinking. The authors outline the implementation of PIC, discuss the role of intuition in decision making, and compare the PIC with the person-environment fit approach.

This article presents a general model based on decision theory (e.g., Bell, Raiffa, & Tversky, 1988; Raiffa, 1968) that can be used as a practical framework for conceptualizing and improving career decision-making processes. We rely on decision theory because, as in other decision situations, there is an individual who must make a decision, there are several alternatives to choose from, and the individual has many considerations for comparing and evaluating the alternatives. Therefore, making a career decision involves collecting and processing information. Indeed, decision theory was long ago proposed as a frame of reference for career guidance and counseling (Gelatt, 1962; Jepsen & Dilley, 1974; Katz, 1966; Pitz & Harren, 1980).

There are different types of career decisions, and the proposed threestage model is most relevant when the client is trying to decide what to study (e.g., choosing a college major) or which occupation to choose, that is, when the number of potential alternatives is relatively large. However, even when the number of options is small, the second and the third stages of the proposed model may be carried out to guide the client. The proposed procedure provides specific guidelines aimed at facilitating career decision making and increasing the quality of the process and its outcomes, while taking into consideration the limited cognitive and material resources of the individual who is deliberating the options. Adapting concepts from decision theory to the context of career decisions provides a framework for a dynamic, interactive process.

The process-oriented approach presented in this article emphasizes the role of career counselors as decision counselors, whose aim is to facilitate an active decision-making process. The proposed model provides a general framework for the stages of the career decision-making process. We suggest that career counselors have three roles in this framework. The first role is to discover what stage of the career decision-making process the individual is in currently. Next, the counselor should review the individual's previous career decision-making stage or stages and, if needed, repeat one or more of them. Third, the counselor should guide the client through the remaining stages. In light of this framework, we believe that the suggested model need not be confined to a specific type of client and that the counselor can adopt some of the model's components for each particular client and adapt the components according to the client's style and needs and the counselor's judgment. Finally, although we are focusing on career decision making, readers may recognize methods that they have used intuitively in the past to resolve common dilemmas such as selecting college courses, renting an apartment, or buying a car. Indeed, our goal is to present a working model that offers the advantages of systematic, analytical processing, while remaining compatible with individuals' natural wav of thinking.

We begin by providing the Prescreening, In-depth exploration, Choice (PIC) model's theoretical background and rationale; a more detailed discussion of the theoretical issues presented here can be found in Gati and Asher (2001). Next, we present the model itself. The description of each stage is accompanied by guidelines for the stages' practical implementation in the counseling process. …