Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Effects of Career Counseling on French Adults: An Experimental Study

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Effects of Career Counseling on French Adults: An Experimental Study

Article excerpt

This research project is focused on theoretical and empirical works analyzing the effects of career counseling. This experimental and longitudinal study has been carried out in France; it compares a sample of individuals having undertaken competence assessment with a control group and deals with self-esteem, self-analysis, self-concept, and the participants' situations. The results correspond to the authors' main hypotheses: The effect size calculated for all the variables (+0.62) is similar to the one observed in the meta-analyses concerning the same topic. The stability of effects has also been demonstrated for 2 out of 3 categories of variables (effect size +0.44) in spite of a slight decrease in the production of self-concept. Finally, treatment intensity seems to have a lesser effect than the one expected, but it strengthens its role in the development of self-analysis. The discussion focuses on the prospects for counseling practice assessment, as well as theoretical directions meriting future development.

The field of career counseling has generated numerous evaluative studies (Spokane, 1991) and reflections on the methods of counseling (Zytowski & Borgen, 1983). Work in this area was essentially directed toward analyzing the consequences of the feedback of counseling methods, particularly interest inventories (Atanasoff& Slaney, 1980; Fribush Cooper, 1976; Hansen, Gurwitz Kozberg, & Goranson, 1994; Hoffinan, Spokane, & Magoon, 1981 ; Kivlighan, Hageseth, Tipton, & McGovern, 1981 ; Krivatsky & Magoon, 1976; M. J. Miller & Cochran, 1979; Rubinstein, 1978; Zener ScSchnuelle, 1976; Zytowski, 1977).

The syntheses suggested by Goodyear (1990) and by Furnham (Furnham, 1989; Furnham & Varian, 1988) allowed us to examine the moderating variables involved in the feedback process-for instance, the variables related to the client or to the client-counselor interaction. Other studies highlighted psychological aspects in communication, such as the "Barnum effect" (Dickson & Kelly, 1985, p. 367). In these different studies, the evaluation criteria used are varied: perception of counselor (Barak & Lacrosse, 1975; Corrigan & Schmidt, 1983), career maturity, self-concept, self-esteem, and acceptance or assimilation of feedback results (Oliver & Spokane, 1988). The choice of these criteria is generally based on one or several theoretical models in vocational development; for instance, Donald Super's (1957) developmental theory is often cited, because it insists on the foreseeable aspect of development, describing the way the individual works in terms of "parts" played by an actor and placing self-concept at the core of the process. A more recent theory by Linda Gottfredson (1981), which introduced new notions, is also referred to when it comes to explaining the working out of vocational preferences and mechanisms producing the decisions in career direction. Spokane (1991) reported that the interventions in career counseling had a modest but durable effect. This effect was more pronounced when the counseling took place over a longer period or when it was individual, and the effect seemed to continue at least 6 months after the process had stopped. In a metaanalysis reviewing 58 studies and dealing with 7,311 participants, Oliver and Spokane (1988) observed that the effect size was equal to 0.48 for all the counseling procedures. The criteria that evolved most seemed to be career maturity, self-knowledge, and decision making. More recently, Whiston, Sexton, and Lasoff (1998), analyzing 47 studies conducted between 1983 and 1995 and involving 4,660 participants, confirmed these results and observed an effect size equal to 0.45.

Although these studies are essential for us to understand better the impact of practices, some limits need mentioning. First, many of these studies deal with samples of students, which do not allow us to evaluate genuine professional situations (problem of generalizibility). …

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