Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

USING THEORY-BASED CAREER ASSESSMENTS to CONNECT CAREER and MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

USING THEORY-BASED CAREER ASSESSMENTS to CONNECT CAREER and MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

Article excerpt

Introduction

As Wood and Hays (2013) noted, "assessment is an integral component of practice for counselors working with clients or students on career related issues" (p. 3). Journal articles, test directories, and conference vendors, provide evidence of the increasing number of assessments available that can be used in the career guidance and counseling process. In addition, the growth of web-based resources has brought a significant increase in the number of career assessments available to consumers and practitioners, with little oversight or quality control associated with these instruments, regardless of whether they are offered for a fee or at no cost (Osborn, Dikel, Sampson, & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2011). Ethical codes in the counseling and career development field stress the importance of considering the reliability, validity, and psychometric properties of any assessments used with clients. The National Career Development Association's code of ethics (2015) states that career professionals must understand the "validation criteria, assessment research, and guidelines for assessment development and use" (p. 13). Another consideration with regard to career assessments is the relationship between theory, research, and practice (Sampson, Hou, Kronholz, Dozier, et al. 2014). The development of career theories often leads to the creation of constructs within those theories, e.g., career thoughts, congruence, differentiation, vocational identity, etc. The hallmark of a good theory is that it produces measures to assess constructs derived from the theory, followed by research on those measures and constructs to validate the theory's propositions or assumptions, e.g., negative career thinking is associated with low vocational identity. In reality, many career assessments are created without a clear connection to an associated theory, and/or there is a lack of research on their psychometric properties, and their ability to produce valid results for clients who complete them. Whether via online sites, print materials, or conference presentations, it is not uncommon to see career assessments promoted as being fun, free, quick, and easy to use. However in many instances, these assessments lack any theoretical foundation, research, or supporting materials (e.g., professional manual, intervention tools). Osborn and Zunker (2012) stressed the importance of reviewing an assessment's professional manual prior to use with clients. Promoting the use of career assessments that lack theoretical foundations, supporting research, and guidelines for professional use, seems, at best, at odds with sound practice and, at worst, a violation of ethical codes.

The purpose of this article is to highlight two career assessments, based in theory and research, which can be used in practice to explore the connection between career and mental health issues, which is an increasing area of emphasis in the counseling field (Lenz, Peterson, Reardon, & Saunders, 2010; Zunker, 2008). The first assessment described is the Career Thoughts Inventory (Sampson, Peterson, Lenz, Reardon, & Saunders, 1996a) and the second is the Self-Directed Search (Holland & Messer, 2013). Following the overview of each instrument and its diagnostic components, a case example is provided to illustrate how the results from each assessment can be used in providing a more holistic picture of a client's situation.

Career Thoughts Inventory

The Career Thoughts Inventory (CTI; Sampson, et al. 1996a) is based on cognitive information processing (CIP) theory (Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz, 2004) and Beck's (1976) cognitive therapy model. Both of these perspectives describe how negative or dysfunctional thinking can impact feelings and behavior and create difficulties in functioning. CIP theory includes the pyramid of information processing domains: self-knowledge, option knowledge, decision making (CASVE cycle), and thinking about decision making (executive processing). …

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