Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

AN INTEGRATIVE APPROACH FOR COMPETENCE: Career Counseling, Social Justice Advocacy and the Multicultural Counseling Competencies

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

AN INTEGRATIVE APPROACH FOR COMPETENCE: Career Counseling, Social Justice Advocacy and the Multicultural Counseling Competencies

Article excerpt

This article presents an approach to integrating the career counseling competencies (NCDA, 1997), the American Counseling Association Advocacy Competencies (Lewis, Arnold, House, & Toporek, 2002) and the Multicultural Counseling Competencies (Sue, Arredondo & McDavis, 1992) within the context of career and employment counseling. A case is used to demonstrate the application of this integrated approach to assist readers in applying these competencies to their work. Resources for enhancing competence in these three areas as well as recommendations for training and research will be discussed.

The development of competencies serves to provide a common language, goals, and standards for knowledge and conduct expected within a given profession. Within the profession of career counseling, there have been three notable areas in which competencies have been developed including the Career Counseling Competencies (NCDA, 1997), the American Counseling Association Advocacy Competencies (Lewis, Arnold, House, & Toporek, 2002) and the Multicultural Counseling Competencies (Sue, Arredondo & McDavis, 1992). Each of these documents were developed with the goal of providing consistency in practice, training, and research in order to better serve the needs of clients. While these competencies provide useful guidance, the complexity of multiple standards can be overwhelming. The intent of this article is to provide practitioners, students, and educators with a framework for integrating these three sets of competencies. This framework may be used as a tool for understanding and applying the relevant competencies in career counseling. A brief review of the competencies will form a foundation for understanding the proposed approach for integrating the three competency models. For clarity, a hypothetical career counseling case will provide the opportunity to concretely illustrate decision making, assessment and levels of advocacy identified in the approach. The article will conclude with resources to assist counselors and psychologists in enhancing their level of advocacy competence as well as recommendations for training and research.

Career Counseling Competencies

The Career Counseling Competencies were developed to articulate the minimum level of competence expected of professionals working in career counseling (NCDA, 1997). Within this document, career counseling was defined as "The process of assisting individuals in the development of a life-career with focus on the definition of the worker role and how that role interacts with other life roles." (NCDA, 1997, p. 1). Further, the document identified eleven areas of competence as minimum requirements for practice along with a master's degree in career counseling. These eleven areas include: Individual and Group Counseling Skills, Individual/Group Assessment, Information/Resources, Program Management and Implementation, Consultation, Diverse Populations, Supervision, Ethical/Legal Issues, Research/Evaluation, and Technology. The NCDA competencies document provides performance indicators for each of the eleven competence areas and delineates a statement of career counselors' ethical responsibilities. As they are written, the Career Counseling Competencies support and provide guidance in many areas related to both multicultural and advocacy activity (see Appendix A). For example, the competency of "Career Development Theory" specifies that, among other theoretical knowledge areas, career counselors should know "Individual differences related to gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and physical and mental capacities." (NCDA, 1997, p. 3) and under "Individual and Group Counseling Skills," counselors are to be able to "Identify and understand social contextual conditions affecting clients' careers." (NCDA, 1997, p. 4). This last statement is useful in identifying systemic issues that will be important in implementing advocacy. Even more directly, career counselors are directed to "Impact public policy as it relates to career development and workforce planning" within the competency of "Coaching, consultation, and performance improvement. …

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