Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Advancing the Career Counseling Profession: Objectives and Strategies for the Next Decade

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Advancing the Career Counseling Profession: Objectives and Strategies for the Next Decade

Article excerpt

This article discusses the 9 analyses of the career counseling profession's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that appear in this September 2003 special issue of The Career Development Quarterly. The author identifies points of convergence, proposes a mission statement, and summarizes what career counselors seem intent on doing in the coming years. The analysts recommended that the career counseling profession concentrate on 8 objectives: advancing theory that is more holistic, contextual, and multicultural; using accumulated research more effectively; focusing new research on the career counseling process; exploiting technology to construct new tools; ameliorating career counseling training; expanding the National Career Development Association's role; increasing advocacy about public policy; and fostering the international growth of the profession.

Each author in this special issue on career counseling in the next decade has presented a realistic and erudite appraisal of the profession's current strengths and weaknesses as well as its future opportunities and threats. Although conducted from differing perspectives, the analyses converge on reaffirming career counseling's historic mission of helping individuals adapt to societal expectations and personal transitions in their work lives. The rapid changes that are now occurring in the organization of work and the arrangement of occupations, as well as the increasing globalization of the workforce, remind many career counselors of the cultural context that led to the formation of the counseling profession in 1908 and, 5 years later, to the formation of its professional organization, now called the National Career Development Association (NCDA). As Virginia Woolf (as cited in Signal, 1987) astutely observed "on or about December 1910, human nature changed" (p. 7). In the first decade of the twentieth century, the agricultural economy was overcome by the forces of industrialization, urbanization, commercialization, and immigration. One response to the ills exacerbated by city life was the Progressive vision of an industrial society redeemed by enlightened science. As part of this democratic impulse, social reformers such as Parsons (1909) scientized the benevolent social work of the late nineteenth century, when volunteers used evangelical religion to build character and in so doing originated modern vocational guidance, in which professionals use true reasoning to match personalities to occupations.

Today, the mechanical age of the city is giving way to the media age of the global village as information technology fosters a worldwide economy, the emergence of world workers, and new psychological contracts between employers and employees. As more and more workers feel insecure in a dangerous world (Hansen, 2003), career counselors find themselves reinvigorating the professionalized benevolence that was championed by Progressive reformers such as Parsons and renovating the models and materials that they use to help individuals cope with changes in the work world that are every bit as daunting as the changes that transformed human nature in 1910.

The social transformation of the work world prompted the analysts to identify constituent parts of the career counseling profession that show strain in coping with emerging needs as well as other parts of the profession that face threats from external groups and situations. As one might expect, the analysts viewed many of the profession's traditional strengths-such as its foundational theories, accumulated research, valid tools, and tested methods-as fraught with potential weaknesses if they are not adapted for use in the Information Age. One overriding weakness that was identified by multiple analysts was the minimal training offered by counselor education programs for students who wish to specialize in career counseling. The nominal training available in career counseling seems particularly vexing because the counseling profession originated as vocational guidance, yet now shows little interest in the activity that engendered it. …

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