Life-Career Re-Engagement: A New Conceptual Framework for Counselling People in Retirement Transition–Part 1 (Report)

There has been a fast increase of the retiring population in Western society as workers of the baby boomer generation are reaching their age of retirement (Gendell & Siegel, 1992; Reitzes & Mutran, 2004; Schulz & Heckhausen, 1996). This trend has begun to and will continue to have considerable impact on a range of diverse sociocultural, political, economic, demographic, and other related macroand micro-societal development issues (Hansson, DeKoekkoek, Neece & Patterson, 1997). These issues pose very complex and dynamic questions that require much attention from policy-makers in different levels of governments. These issues also call for creative and constructive responses from scholars and practitioners in an array of social sciences fields such as sociology, economics, cultural anthropology and psychology. One of the critical issues worthy of attention is how to maintain and enhance the psychological well-being of individuals in retirement transition (Reitzes, Mutran & Fernandez, 1996; Schlossberg, 2004; Warr, Butcher, Robertson & Callinan, 2004). Although there has been considerable interest in and around the issue of retirement in a professional helping context (Greller & Stroh, 1995; Jensen-Scott, 1993; Tinsley & Bigler, 2002; Wells & Kendig, 1999), it is still an area that needs much more attention given the growing significance of retirement transition in an ageing, post-industrial Western society. It is beyond the scope of this article to cover all the major variables associated with psychological wellbeing in the retirement transition process. Rather, the article attempts to look at the issue from the particular angle of counselling psychology: that is, to conceptualise and form a counselling strategy to help clients deal more effectively with some psychological dynamics they experience in the process of retirement transition. With this intent, the article presents the idea of the retirement transition as a renewed experience of life-career development. This renewed experience focuses on understanding, probing and strengthening the intrinsic potential of a retiree so that such potential can be used as resources that will enrich the individual’s coping experience during the retirement transition process. The article takes the primary stand that retirement adjustment counselling becomes more constructive and holistic if it is considered a special form of life-career development counselling that aims to help clients explore and acquire new options in the retirement phase of their lives. This special form of life-career exploration will continue as long as one’s life journey continues. To form such an argument, this article proposes a new concept of life-career re-engagement (LCRE) by expanding on the work of Donald Super (1957, 1990).

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