Advances in Vocational Psychology - Vol. 1

By W. Bruce Walsh; Samuel H. Osipow | Go to book overview
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5 Special Groups and the Beneficial Use of Vocational Interest Inventories

Linda S. Gottfredson Center for Social Organization of Schools Johns Hopkins University


RECENT CONCERNS ABOUT TEST USAGE AND SPECIAL GROUPS

A dominant issue in vocational and counseling psychology since at least the 1970s has been whether or not traditional counseling methods are appropriate for women, minorities, and other special groups. The issue of appropriate treatment remains a lively one in many areas of social life, because large differences remain in education, occupation, and income by ethnic group, race, and sex, despite the elimination of most blatant forms of unfair discrimination.

Intensive efforts have been made to expunge potential sources of bias from counselor behavior and from the tools they use. Good rapport and effective interpersonal communication are generally understood to be essential for successful counseling and, not surprisingly, considerable attention has been given in the field to determining the effects on the counseling process of interracial or cross-gender counseling, counselor attitudes, counselee expectations, and cultural differences ( Atkinson, Morten, & Sue, 1979; Casas, 1984; Schlossberg & Pietrofesa, 1978), and to developing guidelines for counseling women ( Richardson & Johnson, 1984) and for becoming a "culturally skilled" counselor ( Sue, 1981).

Counseling tools, as well as the counseling process, have also received considerable attention. Sexist language and stereotyped depictions of different ethnic groups, races, and sexes have been eliminated from informational booklets and materials. Assessment devices have been important tools in educational and career counseling, and so they too have been objects of scrutiny and controversy. Counselors use a variety of standardized assessments, including interest, aptitude, vocational maturity, and personality tests. Controversy over standardized

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