Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Creating Connections: Using a Narrative Approach in Career Group Counseling with College Students from Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Creating Connections: Using a Narrative Approach in Career Group Counseling with College Students from Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

Article excerpt

Changes in the world of work as well as demographic shifts toward a more diverse college population and workforce require changes in the way career counseling is provided on college campuses. The authors propose using a narrative group counseling approach to serve college and university students from various cultural backgrounds. Through this approach, students develop their own career/life stories, incorporating their cultural values, family and community considerations, and life roles.

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For the past several decades, colleges and universities have reported marked increases in the diversity of their students. Notably, the cultural diversity among students more and more reflects the diversity of American society (Miller, 2002), in which a homogeneous majority is becoming less dominant (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1998). Given these changes, traditional methods of career counseling may need to be adapted to meet the specific needs of nontraditional students. Although the term nontraditional student has been used to refer to a variety of student characteristics, including age, culture, and socioeconomic status (Kim, 2002), the focus of this article is specific to issues of culture as they relate to career counseling.

Because career counseling not only facilitates the selection of an academic major and potential career but also helps to clarify students' values and lifestyle considerations, including the influences of the family of origin, cultural values often strongly influence the decisions made. Indeed, cultural variables--including worldviews, identity development, family, and structure of opportunities-are fundamental aspects of career counseling (e.g., Fouad, 1993). Career counselors should therefore have an accurate understanding of both their own culture and their clients' cultures, including recent information and appropriate techniques that have been recommended with those particular populations. Similarly, counselor educators, supervisors, and trainers can assist counseling trainees to acquire the Multicultural Counseling Competencies (Roysircar, Sandhu, & Bibbins, 2002) and the revised Career Counseling Competencies (National Career Development Association [NCDA], 1997), with particular attention to the interface between the two (Evans & Larrabee, 2002). Competencies from both the multicultural and career literatures must be learned and applied for the services provided to meet the needs of a diverse student population.

Given this need to integrate multicultural and career competencies, new models of service delivery will need to be described and evaluated. The purpose of this article is, therefore, to examine one such emerging career counseling approach in working with nontraditional, multicultural student populations. Specifically, we propose using a narrative group counseling approach in helping clients develop their own career/life stories, incorporating their cultural values, family and community considerations, and life roles.

A Postmodern, Narrative Approach to Career Counseling With Multicultural Populations

The last two decades have brought a new, evolving paradigm shift in the world of work and in the concept of career development. The stable and predictable career path provided by the industrial economy of the past does not exist for most people in the current information-based economy (Peavy, 1996; Savickas, 1993). The scientific "matching models" advocated by career counselors in the last century have become less meaningful in an era in which both the person and workplace change continually (Savickas, 2000).

In light of this, the positivist search for truth is slowly being replaced by a more postmodern search for meaning and constructed reality (Savickas, 2000). This change is especially important given the multicultural nature of the current information-based economy. As professions become more diverse, decision-making assessments based on norm groups are less relevant, particularly because "objective" norm-referenced tests have often failed to adequately represent those outside of the norm (Cochran, 1997). …

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