Applying a Constructive-Developmental Approach to Issues of Sexual Orientation and Religion in Career Counseling (Case Study)

An individual’s constructive development, or system of meaning making, is relevant to the process of career counseling. A description of constructive-developmental theory and how that theory may he integrated in career counseling is provided, focusing on a case study that addresses issues of sexual orientation and religious identity. Methods for assessing constructive development are explored, and literature relating to the effectiveness of this approach is discussed. Guindon and Richmond (2005), in their review of recent professional literature related to career counseling and career development, reported an increasing focus on construtivist theories in the field. In this article, I outline an approach to career counseling that is informed by Regan’s (1982,1994) theory of constructive development. Kegan (1982,1994) has conceptualized development as a series of emergences from embeddedness in one particular way of knowing and understanding self, odiers, and the world, to more complex and adaptive ways of making meaning. McAuljffe (1993) previously integrated Kegan’s theory with career practice by asserting that the way an individual constructs meaning informs his or her ability to adaptively face career challenges. My intent is to provide a full-length case example that more clearly elucidates how the constructive-developmental approach may be applied to a specific career counseling case. First, I review literature related to the constructive-developmental approach. I then present a case of a client dealing with issues of sexual orientation and religious identity. In my response to this case study, constructive-developmental case conceptualization and assessment are discussed as important intervention elements. I close with a discussion of literature that relates to the effectiveness of the constructive-developmental approach.

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