Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Case of Mandy: Applying Holland's Theory and Cognitive Information Processing Theory

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Case of Mandy: Applying Holland's Theory and Cognitive Information Processing Theory

Article excerpt

In this article the authors discuss the application of Holland's theory (Holland, 1997) and cognitive information processing theory (CIP; Peterson, Sampson, & Reardon, 1991) to the case of a college student named Mandy who was deciding about a major and a future career. The authors also describe how a career planning class, the Self-Directed Search (SDS; Holland, Powell & Fritzsch, 1994), the Career Thoughts Inventory (CTI; Sampson, Peterson, Lenz, Reardon, & Saunders, 1998), and Improving Your Career Thoughts: A Workbook for the Career Thoughts Inventory (Sampson, Peterson, Lenz, Rearson, & Saunders, 1996) were used as interventions to allow Mandy to become aware of her negative thinking patterns and to begin the process of reframing these thoughts. The outcome of Mandy's case, her personal reactions to this article, and practical implications for other service providers, are discussed.

This is a case study report of Mandy, a second semester sophomore at a large, southeastern university who was undecided about her major. Mandy enrolled in a career course for academic credit, on the advice of her roommate, to obtain assistance with problems in educational and career decision making. At our career center, it is not uncommon for sophomores to become quite anxious about choosing a major field of study and setting career goals after receiving the "undecided letter" from the dean of undergraduate studies. This letter advises students that they have accumulated 50 hours of credit and need to declare a major field of study. Moreover, the state legislature has recently instituted financial penalties for students taking courses beyond the maximum required to complete a bachelor's degree. These kinds of policies impose considerable stress on students in addition to that coming from parents and friends.

Our three-credit career course, available only to students with instructor permission, is offered through the career center. It is one of our most intensive career interventions. Students enrolled in the course spend more than 100 hours developing skills and knowledge that will help them solve career problems and make career decisions. In taking the course, they learn from both peers and instructors. Mandy's experience typifies that of other students enrolled in the course.

This case study begins with a general description of Mandy and her career difficulties. We then discuss the 3-hour credit course in career development offered at the university since 1973. Next we examine Mandy's career situation from the perspective of Holland's typological theory (Holland, 1997) and cognitive information processing theory (CIP; Peterson, Sampson, & Reardon, 1991; Peterson, Sampson, Reardon, & Lenz, 1996). The use of several theory-based interventions such as the Self-Directed Search (SDS; Holland, Powell, & Fritzsch, 1994), Career Thoughts Inventory (CTI; Sampson, Peterson, Lenz, Reardon, & Saunders, 1998), and the Improving Your Career Thoughts: A Workbook for the Career Thoughts Inventory (hereafter called the CTI workbook; Sampson, Peterson, Lenz, Reardon, & Saunders, 1996) is described. Finally, the case study concludes with preliminary outcomes of career interventions used with Mandy and a discussion of practical implications for other counselors and career services providers.

MANDY'S SITUATION

Mandy was 19 years old when she enrolled in the career planning class in January, 1998. On a standard data form, she reported her ethnic group as Caucasian and class level as second semester sophomore. She lived in an off-campus apartment with four roommates. The instructor described her as petite, well-groomed and dressed, and outgoing (verbal and social). Mandy participated in campus activities through her sorority and was constantly busy. Both of Mandy's parents were college graduates. Her mother had been an elementary school teacher for 20 years, and her father had been a vice president at a large national company. …

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