Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Relation of Type and Amount of Training to Career Counseling Self-Efficacy in Italy

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Relation of Type and Amount of Training to Career Counseling Self-Efficacy in Italy

Article excerpt

This study examined the relation of self-efficacy to length and type of training in a sample of Italian career counselors. Findings indicated that amount of career counseling training was positively related to counselors' self-efficacy regarding their abilities to conceptualize vocational problems, deal with career indecision concerns, and provide educational counseling. In addition, counselors who had participated in an in-service training course that focused on social cognitive/learning theories reported stronger self-efficacy regarding their skills at vocational problem conceptualization and at educational counseling than did those who received more eclectic training.

Career counseling is becoming an increasingly popular profession around the world; similarly, the research literature on career counseling has become more international in its scope in recent years (e.g., see Lent, 2001; Watts, 1996). Italy is one country in which interest has increased regarding the provision and study of career services (e.g., see Nota & Soresi, 2000). However, career counseling is currently largely unregulated in Italy; there are no credentialing or licensing laws that govern its practice, and no commonly required training curricula or widely accepted competencies arc expected of those who perform career services. Vocational guidance and career interventions in Italy are also offered by an extremely diverse group of professionals, including those trained as teachers, psychologists, sociologists, and economists. These diverse service providers tend to receive training experiences that vary greatly in content and duration.

Specific training and continuing education in career counseling are typically provided by Italian universities through relatively brief in-service courses rather than through formal degree-granting programs. Training tends to emphasize a person-environment matching model of career counseling. Most vocational counseling services are provided either in high school settings or in state-sponsored vocational guidance or job centers. As in the United States, the focus of the career services that are offered varies widely, ranging from the provision of career information, to the provision of guidance with academic course selection and job finding, to addressing individuals' concerns with the psychological processes involved in vocational choice and adjustment.

While efforts are underway to standardize the preparation of career counselors in Italy, it would be valuable to study the implications of type and amount of training for career counselors' functioning. Such data could provide an empirical basis for selecting appropriate training models. In the present study, we examined the relationship of certain training parameters to one important aspect of career counselors' functioning, namely, their self-efficacy regarding their ability to perform various career counseling activities.

Self-efficacy refers to personal beliefs regarding one's ability to perform particular activities and courses of action. These beliefs are hypothesized to help determine a host of important outcomes, such as people's choice of activities and behavioral settings, emotional reactions, and persistence when confronted by obstacles. Self-efficacy is a key construct in Bandura's (1986) general social cognitive theory and in the adaptation of this theory to career behavior (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994). Research in the context of counselor training has shown that counselors' self-emcacy beliefs regarding their general counseling skills are related to their performance, anxiety, and satisfaction with counseling (for a review, see Larson & Daniels, 1998). Beginning practicum experiences, such as role plays, modeling, and positive feedback, appear to promote self-efficacy perceptions, at least at earlier stages of training; less study has been devoted to training elements that promote self-efficacy in more advanced counselors (Larson & Daniels, 1998). …

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