Career Style Interview: A Contextualized Approach to Career Counseling (Report)

Choosing and entering an occupation essentially involves a process of clarifying and implementing a work self-concept (Super, 1951, 1953). This proposition remains a mainstay of career counseling, dating to the inception of the field (Parsons, 1909). Consistent with this premise, a variety of psychometric inventories and scales have been developed and used by career counselors to facilitate and expedite the process of self-understanding. Objective appraisal of vocational interests, needs, values, and abilities through test interpretation has indeed become common practice in career counseling (Crites, 1981; Crites & Taber, 2002; Swanson & D’Achiardi, 2005; Watkins, Campbell, & Nieberding, 1994). Measuring individual differences is the central component of trait and factor models of career counseling. Assessing broad, decontextualized dispositional traits, such as interests, needs, values, and abilities, reflects basic tendencies in behavior. These behavioral tendencies can be conceptualized as the structural basis of individual differences (Cantor, 1990; McAdams & Pals, 2006). Results from objective measures merely provide career counselors with a general outline of a person’s individuality and self-concept. For example, Holland’s (1997) Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional (RIASEC) typology is widely incorporated in many vocational interest inventories. Typically, career counselors examine the three highest scores on operationally defined RIASEC scales to determine a client’s vocational personality. However, although two clients may both resemble SAE types, it is unlikely that both have the same motives, goals, strivings, adaptive strategies, or self-images (Savickas, 1995b). Indeed, people are more than, the sum of their scored responses on inventories and tests. Therefore, understanding specific contextualized features of the self-concept elucidates the client’s lifestyle and everyday behavior. Therefore, to effectively assist clients with clarifying their self-concept and its implementation in the world of work, career counselors need to understand the uniqueness of the individual and identify specific behaviors that stem from dispositional traits. By adding a contextualized approach to career counseling, a more complete picture of the client develops, thereby becoming more useful and producing a better outcome (Savickas, 1996).

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