Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Using Pair Counseling to Improve the Cost-Effectiveness of College Career Counseling

Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Using Pair Counseling to Improve the Cost-Effectiveness of College Career Counseling

Article excerpt

As the demand for career counseling services grows, the need for accountability rises, and the availability of funding decreases, it becomes more critical that practitioners utilize cost-effective interventions and alternative forms of treatment. One option for improving access to all clients while concurrently reducing costs involves using approaches based on collaboration between clients. Pair counseling, a brief intervention based on pairing two individuals of opposing orientations, can be implemented to improve access, promote social justice, and enhance the overall delivery of career services. This article further examines how career theory can be translated into actual practice. Implications for program development and future research are addressed.

Keywords, career counseling, pair counseling, cost-effective interventions, alternative treatments, brief intervention, social justice, program development

Career counselors are struggling to find more cost-effective, accessible interventions while simultaneously dealing with budget cuts and demands for accountability. As noted by Sampson, Dozier, and Colvin (2011), the nature of interventions (e.g., group counseling, workshops) and practitioners (e.g., teachers, counselors) are two key factors associated with cost. While specialized resources and individual counseling may be necessary for clients lacking readiness for decision-making, it is important to consider alternatives when assisting clients with higher levels of readiness or proficient decision-making skills. When level of client readiness is assessed and the appropriate service delivery option identified (e.g., individual, group, self-help), accessibility will be maximized, costs will be minimized, and practitioners will be better prepared to meet the heightened demand for services.

The purpose of this article is to provide a rationale for implementing pair counseling to maximize the number of individuals who can receive career assistance, while concurrently enhancing the cost-effectiveness and overall quality of career service delivery. This article examines career counseling and how career theory has been translated into practice, the effectiveness and relative costs of interventions utilized in career counseling, and suggestions for using pair counseling and evaluating its efficacy.

Career Development, Theory and Practice

Career counseling provides individuals with critical tools for improving self-understanding, occupational knowledge and career exploration behavior in order to set appropriate vocational goals. It also helps individuals meet their aspirations by identifying a sense of life purpose and direction. The practice of career counseling includes a unique history of more than 90 years, which incorporates principles related to counseling and career theory (Super, 1992).

Career theory plays an important role in improving the overall practice of career counseling. For example, the theory provides a basis for selecting interventions and information to effectively deliver services (Brown, 2002). Research conducted by Parsons (1909) during his work with adolescents serves as one factor that increased support for career development and interventions among school educators. Parsons emphasized the importance of self-knowledge (e.g., abilities) and knowledge about the world of work. Similarly, Strong (1927) highlighted the importance of connecting student interests to occupations, and Holland (1973) advocated finding occupational environments that were congruent with individual personality types.

Since the early 1980s, career theories and counseling roles have expanded from a strictly vocational emphasis toward a more holistic picture to meet the diverse and cultural needs of all clientele (Lee & Johnston, 2001; Parmer & Rush, 2003). Due to the rapid transformation of social and economic structures in the 21st century, career counselors have recognized the importance of utilizing dynamic interventions and new service delivery models that have emerged in response to this challenging context (Amundson, 2006). …

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