Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Influencing Client Expectations about Career Counseling Using a Videotaped Intervention

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Influencing Client Expectations about Career Counseling Using a Videotaped Intervention

Article excerpt

Realistic client expectations about career counseling are essential to positive client outcomes. The authors investigated a videotaped intervention designed to influence participants' expectations about career counseling using a pretest/posttest experimental design. As measured by the Expectations About Counseling-Brief Form (H. E. A. Tinsley, 1982), undergraduate participants who watched the videotaped intervention significantly increased their expectations of personal commitment to career counseling and decreased their expectations of counselor expertise compared with participants who watched a control videotape. A secondary hypothesis, that changes in expectations would positively affect attitudes toward career counseling as measured by the Attitudes Toward Career Counseling Scale (A. B. Rochlen, J. J. Mohr, & B. K. Hargrove, 1999), was not supported.

A long history of research indicates that clients enter counseling with varying expectations about the roles they and the counselor will play, their likelihood of improvement, and the general counseling process itself (e.g., Goldstein, 1962; Heilbrun, 1972). Researchers have theorized about these expectations, and they have been shown to affect numerous aspects of counseling, including the working alliance between client and counselor, clients' level of involvement in counseling, and counseling effectiveness (e.g., Bordin, 1955; Frank, 1968; H. E. A. Tinsley, Tokar, & Helwig, 1994; Tokar, Hardin, Adams, & Brandel, 1996). Some studies have shown that influencing clients' expectations by briefing them about what to expect in counseling has been found to have beneficial effects on counseling, including increased client responsibility and relevant verbal responsiveness (Friedlander & Kaul, 1983), and decreased incidence of early termination of counseling sessions (Heilbrun, 1972). In contrast, H. E. A. Tinsley, Bowman, and Barich (1993) reported that negative or unrealistic client expectations are viewed by counseling practitioners as having a detrimental effect on counseling. They reported that counseling psychologists perceived their clients as most often having unrealistically low expectations about their own level of personal commitment to counseling while simultaneously having unrealistically high expectations about their counselor's level of expertise. Incongruence between expectations about and what actually occurs in counseling is thought to negatively affect counseling (Kelly, 1955). For example, early termination of counseling sessions may result from unconfirmed client expectations about counseling (Borghi, 1968). Taken together, this research suggests that if positive and/or realistic expectations about counseling lead to beneficial results, whereas negative and/or unrealistic expectations lead to detrimental results, it would be desirable for counselors to have the ability to influence client expectations about counseling in the preferred direction.

The ability to influence client expectations may be especially important in the realm of career counseling. In fact, H. E. A. Tinsley et al. (1993) speculated that unrealistically low expectations associated with personal commitment to counseling and unrealistically high expectations related to counselor expertise may be even more detrimental for those seeking vocational or educational counseling. Research has shown that, compared with clients seeking counseling for personal concerns, clients seeking counseling for career concerns expect fewer counseling sessions (June & Smith, 1983). More specifically, Galassi, Grace, Martin, James, and Wallace (1992) found that students seeking career counseling expected counseling to involve about three sessions. It seems reasonable to speculate that career clients' expectation of a rather brief duration for counseling may be linked to unrealistic and potentially detrimental expectations (see H. E. A. Tinsley et al., 1993) that the counselor will be able to "fix" them quickly without much effort on their part. …

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