Gushue, Clarke, Pantzer, et al., (2006) examine the application of social cognitive theories to career counseling, reporting that self-efficacy is a pertinent issue in this process. In particular, these authors report that:
Career decision making self-efficacy refers to the degree to which individuals feel confident in their ability to successfully engage in tasks associated with making a career choice and with commitment to a career. It has also been observed that career-related self-efficacy in general may prove to be an important element in formulating a model of career development...(p. 308).
Gushue and coworkers go on to argue that when career self-efficacy is high, individuals are more assertive in the career counseling process. Thus, by developing career self-efficacy, career counselors can effectively improve interactions with clients and facilitate a greater understanding of client needs with respect to career decision making.
Applying this to the larger context of social learning theory, it becomes evident that social cognitive approaches are clearly influenced by the individual's environment and development. If the client has previously been exposed career decision making or specific types of vocations or occupations, he or she may have a higher degree of self-efficacy when it comes to making decisions in this area. Thus, social learning and the larger environment will have marked ramifications for the cognitive structures that the client uses to understand and integrate career counseling and information. These issues must be addressed by the counselor if he or she is to provide service that is meaningful for the client's overall development.
Synthesizing social cognitive approaches with the other theories noted in this investigation, it becomes clear while each of the approaches is often examined separately in the literature each is connected through the individual. For instance, social cognitive approaches allow for the professional to asses the individual's competence with respect to career decision making. However, this process will be influenced by issues directly related to social development, environment and personality. Thus, it becomes clear that while individual theories can facilitate the educational development of the career counselor, integration is essential to understand the client. Social cognitive approaches appear to provide a culmination point, in that the cognitions of the individual will reflect, social environment exposure as well as individual personality traits.
Other Issues that must be Addressed in Practice
While the data provided above clearly elucidates the scope and context of how theory can be effectively integrated in the context of career counseling, a review of the scholarly literature on this subject indicates that there are a host of other issues which can impact outcomes in counseling practice. Although these issues are important to ensuring that meaningful and purposeful service are provided to the client, these issues do not fall under the headings of specific career counseling theories. As such, it is pertinent to consider these issues and to illuminate the overall impact that these issues can have on providing competence career counseling services to clients.
The issue of indecisiveness is one that has been widely examined in the context of career counseling. Wolfe and Betz (2004) in their review of indecisiveness in career counseling argue that this issue often arises in the context of the career development process. According to these authors, indecisiveness is a natural step in career development which represents inhibitions about exploring new opportunities. Wolfe and Betz assert that the development of career self-efficacy can improve outcomes in this area, providing the client with needed impetus to move beyond psychological barriers and explore new ideas and concepts for career development. Placed in the context of the career counseling theories explored above, it is clear that indecisiveness will be impacted by a host of variables including cognitive constructs, social learning and the client's personality. As such, garnering an integral understanding of these issues in the context of the client will provide additional insight into addressing and understanding indecisiveness, if and when it develops.
Even though some degree of indecisiveness is normal in the context of career development, Wolfe and Betz (2004) argue that there are instances in which this issue can become a pervasive detriment to the career counseling process. As reported by these authors, "Although career indecision has been viewed as a normal stage of development that most young adults resolve relatively easily with or without counseling or informational assistance, there is a subset of young people that have been called "achronically undecided" (p. 364). Wolfe and Betz argue that in most instances chronic cases of indecisiveness can be attributed to a fear of commitment. When this arises in career counseling practice, professionals must address this issue so as to promote healthy career development for the client.
Other scholars examining the issue of indecisiveness have been quick to note that when indecisiveness arises in the context of career counseling, it is an individual trait that was more than likely present before career counseling began. (Germeijs, Verschueren & Soenens, 2006). Germeijs and coworkers observe that when chronic indecisiveness occurs in the career counseling process, there are specific indicators which can facilitate identification and understanding of the issue. Specifically, these authors make the following observations:
On the basis of observations of clients, indecisive people have been characterized as being unable to make decisions even after a long series of counseling sessions. Indecisive clients have been described as suffering from a range of personal problems like high anxiety, low self-confidence, and dependency on other persons for a clear sense of self features which are expected to have negative consequences for making a decision (p. 398).
Here again, the focus of understanding the client exists on a larger continuum in which the counselor must take into account the experiences of the client as well as individual personality traits. Only by understanding these issues and synthesizing them into a larger view of the client will it be possible for the career counselor to effectively meet the needs of the client. Further, in this context, career counseling specifically may need to be put aside such that the career counselor can effectively garner insight into the problems that are limiting the career development of the client. Failure on the part of the professional to effectively address the larger issues creating indecisiveness will result in the development of service that does not comprehensively meet the needs of the client. Although this can represent a notable challenge for the career counselor, it is one that must be addressed to ensure that the client is provided with competence service.
Although the issue of diversity and multiculturalism in career counseling was briefly discussed in the context of social learning theory, a cursory overview on the current career counseling literature indicates that diversity issues are quickly becoming an important focus of research and practice. Young, Marshall, Valach (2007) in their review of multiculturalism in career counseling report that this issue is one of notable concern for professionals. As reported by these authors, "Many career theories have developed either without explicit attention to these particular spaces and contexts or by presuming that theories developed in one context are applicable to other contexts" (p. 4). Young and coworkers go on to argue that efforts must be made to expand theory such that it effectively covers the needs of diverse client populations. Without expansion of theory into multicultural domains, Young, et al., contend that an essential part of the client's experience will be excluded from practice.
Although Young and coworkers (2007) assert that career counseling theory must be expanded in order to provide a salient basis for providing service to diverse client populations, Vespia (2006) asserts that efforts on the part of the career counselor to extend a larger understanding of the client's history and background could serve as the basis for improving career counseling practice. According to Vespia diversity should not be viewed as a separate issue that requires the development and expansion of career counseling theory. Rather, this author asserts that diversity should be viewed as a unifying issue that can provide the counselor and the client with a foundation upon which a more integrative relationship can be developed. Although this process may require the career counselor to spend more time assessing and understanding the client, the end result will be the development of more meaningful interactions between client and counselor.
Regardless of the specific approach that the professional takes toward the issue of multicultural diversity in career counseling, the reality is that an effort must be made to understand the impact of diversity on the client, his or her experiences and his or her approach to career development. Personally, the integrative approach suggested by Vespia (2006) is aligned with my personal beliefs about providing comprehensive service to the client. When the professional makes a concerted effort to understand all dimensions of the client and his or her personality and experiences, the counselor will be able to understand the impact of cultural diversity and employ this knowledge in…