Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Applying Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Young Adults

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Applying Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Young Adults

Article excerpt

Incorporating J. D. Krumboltz's (1979) social learning theory of career decision making, the author explores career development issues for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) adolescents and young adults. Unique challenges for the GLBTQ population are discussed, specific recommendations for effective career counseling with this population are outlined, and suggestions for future research are presented.

It is generally accepted that approximately 10% of people are gay or lesbian (Voeller, 1990). With the population of the United States recently reaching 300 million (U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, 2007), this approximates 30 million or more Americans. More than 40 million Americans are 10 to 19 years old (U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, 2008); thus, using the 10% approximation, more than 4 million adolescents and young adults may be predominately or exclusively homosexual. Recognizing that this figure does not include those who identify as bisexual, transgender, or questioning is essential. Even though in recent years people of differing sexual and gender orientations have been more widely visible and accepted, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) youth in particular face career decisions that are unique to the status quo.

Throughout the life span, GLBTQ individuals encounter issues that are significantly different from those faced by heterosexual individuals. Even in childhood, many GLBTQ youth, although perhaps not old enough to realize their sexual or gender orientations, may believe that they are different in some way (Ryan & Futterman, 2001). Particularly during adolescence, GLBTQ individuals may form negative self-perceptions, feel isolated, or face rejection, any of which may result in problems such as depression, shame, or low self-esteem (Travers & Paoletti, 1999). These emotional problems can result in drastic actions, such as substance abuse or even suicide, but may have more subtle effects, including social isolation or dropping out of school (Grossman & D'Augelli, 2007; Grossman & Kerner, 1998). Moreover, the time, energy, and internal resources of managing a perceived marginalized status may affect vocational decision making (Schmidt & Nilsson, 2006).

Literature focusing on career issues of GLBTQ individuals is limited, and few empirical studies have been conducted in this area (DeggesWhitc & Shoffner, 2002; Pope, 1995). Although some authors have noted that the amount of research being conducted has been increasing (Pope et al., 2004), recent research has indicated that the career issues of GLBTQ individuals is an important area for continued professional focus, particularly concerning adolescents and young adults. Schmidt and Nilsson (2006), for example, in their study of 102 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth, tested Hetherington's (1991) bottleneck hypothesis. "According to the bottleneck hypothesis, LGB adolescents may be coping with the career tasks of their development at a slower pace than [are] individuals who are not negotiating a marginalized sexual identity" (Schmidt & Nilsson, 2006, p. 25). Schmidt and Nilsson 's study gave empirical support to the bottleneck hypothesis, thus suggesting that LGB youth can be distracted from typical career development tasks because of limited psychological energy being devoted to them. That is, particularly during adolescence, these individuals may put off, be unaware of, or deliberately forgo important career development activities because they are busy dealing with identity issues connected to their sexual orientations (Morrow, Gore, 8c Campbell, 1996). Schmidt and Nilsson noted that the converse may also be true in that some adolescents may put more psychological energy into career- related tasks and leave sexual identity development for a later time. Either way, career development implications exist. Clearly, more research and information is needed in terms of working with younger GLBTQ individuals and their career development. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.