A colleague of ours remarked apropos of the first author's complaint about the sheer bulk of critical attacks on trait-and-factor counseling, "What else is there?" Whatever else there is may well smell as sweet by another name: much of trait-and-factor counseling's usefulness comes from its affinities with problem-solving formulations. Tracing the vicissitudes of trait-and-factor counseling from Williamson's original formulations to its current manifestations, we find further that, lacking a theory of vocational behavior change to call its own, trait-and-factor counseling is now informed by person-environment fit theories of vocational behavior. It was left to us only to fill the remaining significant lacuna: We supplemented the extremely rudimentary notion of counseling process with models of information processing and applied a person-environment fit hypothesis to differential intervention selection. The proposed client-intervention fit model is a current extrapolation of trait-and-factor counseling that awaits further investigation, examination, and operationalization.
It remains only to point out that trait-and-factor counseling remains without a significant body of proponents interested in reaping its possible empirical and theoretical rewards as an object of study. We find this curious: What is it about this approach that provokes ire and contention but no theoretical progress? We suspect its close ties to assessment makes it a touchstone for what the field of counseling psychology as a whole would prefer to avoid-but that is an altogether different chapter.
We thank Lynda Zwinger for her editorial assistance.
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Publication information: Book title: Career Counseling:Contemporary Topics in Vocational Psychology. Contributors: Samuel H. Osipow - Editor, W. Bruce Walsh - Editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Hillsdale, NJ. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 37.
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