Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

MENTAL HEALTH or CAREER COUNSELING: A Forced Choice? No Need!

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

MENTAL HEALTH or CAREER COUNSELING: A Forced Choice? No Need!

Article excerpt

In 2011, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ended the US shuttle program and approximately 3500 workers found their jobs gone (Chow, 2011). These workers used their personal and career adaptability to find new employment, move households, and re-establish support systems. Once considered the most stable jobs, even the federal government is relying on worker's career and personal adaptabilities to aid them and their families in economic, social, and psychological recovery when large-scale government projects end. Super and Knasel (1981) observed that adults continue to develop skills and new career interests over the life span. Based on this observation, they proposed career adaptability as the construct that aided adults' in continued career development. Savickas (1997) posited that the term career adaptability actually represents the acquisition of career skills and attitudes across the life span, and proposed that this term represents an integrative construct for the Life-Span, Life-Space (Super, 1990) theory.

Other terms represent concepts and dimensions of career adaptability. Hall (1996) coined the term Protean career, indicating, like the Greek god Proteus, workers need to be able to reshape skills, attitudes, and behaviors constantly to avoid the capture of unemployment. Arthur & Rousseau (1996) called the new career, Boundaryless, inferring that workers must go beyond the bounds of hierarchical organizational structures and seek opportunities outside the confines of these structures. Additionally, the construct of career adaptability is demonstrating significant relationships with positive psychology measures, building evidence that mental health and career adaptability are related.

The relationship between mental health and career counseling is not new. Betz and Corning (1993) argued that the division between career and personal counseling is in conflict with the overall philosophical position of the counseling profession. These authors contend that counseling is steeped in holistic underpinnings that emphasize development of the entire person. They supported this argument by underscoring the common aspects of career and personal counseling processes (e.g., therapeutic alliance development, exploration of incongruent situations and aspirations). Krumboltz (1993) emphasized the need for counselors to attend to all aspects of human development. He noted that many client problems include aspects of career and personal counseling. Blustein & Spengler (1995) highlighted the many parallels between career and personal counseling and stated that treatment of one dimension has effects across the other. Attempting to reduce the conceptual division, these authors presented the term career or personal domain as the focus of counseling in general.

More recently, Zunker (2008) highlighted relationships between personal and career counseling by presenting the biopsychosocial model within the framework of human behavior. Zunker explained that these three dimensions coalesce to create influences on human behavior including career behavior. He cited multiple life roles (cultural and social), the pervasive nature of psychological disorders and early learning (schemas), career barriers (cultural and cognitive), and the ubiquitous aspects of work stress (biological, psychological, and social) as experiences that are important to consider when providing counseling services.

Together, these authors provide strong arguments supporting the claim that career counseling is mental health counseling and that clear divisions are not possible in practice. One domain has significant influence on the other and thus, career and personal counseling have mutual influences. With this understanding, being able to identify and grow the clients' strengths and adaptabilities becomes a central focus in career counseling.

The purpose of this article is to emphasize the importance of conceptualizing career counseling as a process for mental health and optimal human functioning. …

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