Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

Applying the Theory of Career Construction to Frank

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

Applying the Theory of Career Construction to Frank

Article excerpt

Freedom from a Story that Matters

Frank desires more than finding a fit, he desires to find a fit that matters to him and to others. In his current position, he has been fitting his life into his occupation and now he is experiencing a desire to fit his occupation into his life. The interventions described here draw primarily from the writings of Mark Savickas who developed and continues to refine the theory of Career Construction (2005a). Career constructivist counselors view individuals' careers as being about meaning and mattering (Savickas, 2005a). The model uses a narrative approach to reveal an individual's vocational personality, life theme and career adaptability. This information is woven together to help individuals construct a narrative about their past, present and future that demonstrates consistency and is filled with mattering. The primary assessment intervention of this model is the Career Style Interview (CSI) which consists of 6 or more questions. To learn more about the specifics of the CSI, see Savickas, 1995; 1998; 2005a; and 2005b. The case of Frank, however, does not permit the use of the exact intervention, but the narrative is sufficient enough to provide a general assessment of three rubrics of Career Construction theory since the career narrative contains the elements of vocational personality, life themes, and career adaptability (Savickas, 2005b).

To provide a concise assessment, the career counselor could use the CSI to draw out a more specific narrative and engage in further interaction with the client to affirm and refine the three postulates. Co-constructed and validated narratives offer the client's unique story and not the therapist's interpretation. This review will use an initial interview question and the three constructs as the framework to explore the case and reach conclusions about the client.

Vocational Personality

The first thing a constructivist counselor would want to know from the client is the purpose of the visit or the goal for the session. This is most commonly explored by asking the client, "How may I be useful to you, as you construct your career?" For the constructivist counselor, the client's narrative answer to this question forms the core contract of the relationship. Since this exact question could not be asked of Frank, his response has to be constructed from his narrative and is found at the beginning and end of the case study. Frank desires out of a "mixture of curiosity and reluctance" to know if stress at work might be the cause of his somatic complaints. He adds to this goal when he states at the end of the case report that he is paying the counselor "to make me feel less miserable." Therefore, the counselor can be useful to Frank if his curiosity about his physical complaints and stress at work is answered and if Frank begins to feel less miserable. The clinician would keep these goals in mind and progress toward these goals would be discussed and verified with the client at the end of the session.

After establishing Frank's goal, his narrative could be assessed for clues about his preferred vocational personality. Career Construction counselors often use Holland's RIASEC (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional) model as a simple conceptual schema to facilitate discussion with the client, although other models could work just as well (Holland, 1997; Savickas 2005b). Frank's narrative provides enough information to determine the primary letters of his code and its goodness of fit with his current occupational situation, but all coding would need to be explored and validated with the client. The counselor would explain that the Holland codes are not an exact or permanent diagnosis, but simply provide a starting place for exploration and serve to indicate if an occupation is consistent or inconsistent with the person. From Frank's narrative, the first code that jumps out at the reader is that of Social (S). …

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