Putting More Life into Life Career Courses: The Benefits of a Holistic Wellness Model. (Innovative Practice)

By Smith, Sondra L.; Myers, Jane E. et al. | Journal of College Counseling, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Putting More Life into Life Career Courses: The Benefits of a Holistic Wellness Model. (Innovative Practice)


Smith, Sondra L., Myers, Jane E., Hensley, Laura G., Journal of College Counseling


Career and life planning courses are gaining popularity across university compuses. The authors outline curricula for career and life planning courses that integrate a holistic wellness approach with career development. Curriculum and learning activities to enhance the life planning component of the course are included.

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Courses that are designed to improve the career-planning abilities of undergraduate students have been implemented in universities since the 1930s; in recent years, they seem to be gaining in popularity (Collins, 1998; Halasz & Kempton, 2000). These courses are developed to meet the needs of a larger number of students for career decision making than can be met by career counseling services alone (Cochran, Hetherington, & Strand, 1980; Johnson & Smouse, 1993; Smith & Gast, 1998). The curricula of these courses vary from career orientation, designed to introduce students to careers offered within a given area of study, to career and life planning courses, which are designed to promote career decision making and self-awareness as well as career orientation and job search skills. Generally, the purposes of these courses include helping students to (a) explore personal, academic, and life goals; (b) develop skills for academic, career, and life planning; and (c) develop a decision-making process for educational a nd occupational plans (Halasz & Kempton, 2000; Osborne & Usher, 1994).

Career planning is inseparable from students' identity development and lifestyle (Savickas, 1998). Therefore, many authors have suggested the need for holistic career and life planning courses that incorporate the relationship between students' psychological well-being and vocational decision making (Betz & Corning, 1993; Cochran et al., 1980; Higbee & Dwinell, 1992; Richardson, 1996; Schultheiss, 2000). The emphasis in career planning courses to date, however, has been primarily on career planning and skills-oriented interventions (Carver & Smart, 1985; Cochran et al., 1980; Halasz & Kempton, 2000). According to Schultheiss (2000), "There is still a need to acknowledge how personal issues influence career exploration and decision-making" (p. 45). Herr and Long (1987) stated, "Counselors should help clients pursue career and lifestyle development with assertiveness, direction, and focus across the life-spans" (p. 119). We believe that this holistic and developmental approach should be intentionally integrated into the increasing number of career and life planning courses that are being developed and implemented on university campuses.

In this article, we present a model for infusing holistic and developmental curriculum components into existing career and life planning courses. We describe the rationale for and components of a wellness model (Witmer, Sweeney, & Myers, 1998) and provide examples of the infusion of this model into an existing career and life planning course. Curriculum and learning activities to enhance the life-planning component of the course are included.

The Wheel of Wellness Model

Wellness has been defined by many authors in a variety of ways, most incorporating the "total person" as the target of intervention. In wellness, body, mind, and spirit are integrated in a purposeful manner by the individual, with a goal of living life more fully within all spheres of functioning. Hettler (1984) suggested three major benefits of promoting wellness in universities: (a) It has the potential to increase student retention, (b) student chances for success after graduation are increased, and (c) enhanced wellness will result in greater longevity and will decrease the probability of premature death. Furthermore, college students' sense of psychological well-being has been shown to be influenced by the quality of their lives (Hermon & HazIer, 1999), as measured by the Wellness Evaluation of Lifestyle (Myers, Sweeney, Witmer, & Hattie, 1998). …

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