This paper will offer readers a summary of The Career Counselor’s Handbook by Howard Figler and Richard Nelson Bolles. Following the summary, ideas are discussed from the book and there is an examination of which approaches, processes, and strategies are effective in career counseling. Topics such as advocating, occupations, approach implementation, and work environments will be reviewed. The summary and program plan will be used to benefit career counselors.
Book Review and Program Planning
The Career Counselor’s Handbook is a guide for counselors who are just beginning their careers or counselors who have been in the field for years. The first chapter discusses the goals of a career counselor. One goal of the career counselor is teaching the client the importance of looking for the largest context for everything, the importance of what weight to give problems and solutions and the importance of organizing the information we have in our lives. It is also important for the counselor to teach the client the importance of applying the information to his/her life, the importance of silence and the importance of knowing and understanding that words and pictures are only symbols of a bigger reality (Bolles, Figler 2007).
Bolles and Figler also go on to discuss the different meanings of careers based on which field the client chooses. They believe that there are three definitions to careers: the horse, the road, and the cart. Clients who view their career as the horse see their job as something to please themselves. Those who view their career as the road see their career as exciting and action-packed. Clients who view their career as the cart focus on their character and personal value. These three definitions cover three different takes on careers, and Figler and Bolles believe that everybody in a career fits into one of these definitions.
A key part of the book that is in the third chapter is the discussion of the six objectives of career counseling. The first objective for the counselor is to help the client assume responsibility, meaning the client should be able to consider the input of others on life matters, but ultimately make his/her own decisions and stand by those decisions. The second objective is to help the client use his/her imagination to picture possible career choices. The third objective is to help the client tap into his/her strengths or skills and uncover personal values. The fourth objective is to help the client face negative thoughts and overcome them to make progress in their career. The fifth objective is to teach the client how to decide which steps to take in order to reach his/her career goal. This motivates the client. The final objective is to encourage the client to choose a career that is important or meaningful to him/her (Bolles, Figler 2007).
Bolles and Figler bring up key steps in being a successful career counselor throughout the book. They provide twelve skills career counselors need to possess including creative imagination, role-playing, information giving, skill identifying, value clarifying, and summarizing. Other skills include spot-checking, clarifying content, reflecting feelings, asking open-ended questions, setting tasks and completing them, and identifying what the client believes stands in his/her way of being successful in a career.
The Career Counselor’s Handbook provides career counselors with different approaches for practice. It teaches counselors how to use the 1-2-3 Career Counseling method as well as how to effectively use career assessment tools. The 1-2-3 Career Counseling method allows counselors to ask their clients three questions. The first question asks the client what they want to do, career wise. The second question asks the client what is stopping them from pursuing that career. The final question asks the client what they are going to do about it. This is where the reality test comes in. Reality tests are used for clients to determine just how hard they are willing to work to achieve their goals. Bolles and Figler believe the key to effectively using career assessment tools is to understand that a simple test cannot determine a career. They stress that it is crucial to not just focus on the present, but to also consider future aspects. Bolles and Figler discuss a new model of assessment that allows the client to have more control and independence. This model teaches the client to study the career market to determine what is required for success (Bolles, Figler 2007).
A large part of the book is all about resources. Career counselors are provided so many resources, but the resources are unnecessary if not used effectively. Bolles and Figler discuss how to use group work, how to use information, the positives and negatives of using the internet, and how to handle confrontation. They also offer advice on how to help the client that seems to be impossible to help. They provide information on how to ensure your client achieves success the correct and honest way. Bolles and Figler also go into the discussion of faith in career counseling. They state that many counselors try to avoid discussing God in their sessions. Today, it is basically frowned upon in the field. Bolles and Figler believe that there is no reason to force the topic of God into a session, but there is also no reason to dismiss Him. Because there are so many moments in career counseling that involve the meaning of life and the purpose of certain careers, it is important to discuss different beliefs and faiths.
The authors end the book by discussing the possibility of change in the future of career counseling. Some of the changes they talk about include clients becoming less dependent of standardized testing and more open to approaches that place more responsibility on the client, greater use of career groups, and the opportunity for career counselors to receive greater feedback on their skills.
Both the textbook and the handbook provide processes for helping a client choose a career. The first step in working with a client is to gain an understanding of the client’s cultural background and level of education, as these factors can play a role in choosing a career. After developing knowledge of the client’s background, the counselor should encourage the client to take a self-assessment that will reveal his/her interests, skills, and personal values. Considering these factors, the next step is to help match the client to career choices. The ideas of Figler and Bolles would be effective at this point by placing the responsibility of choosing the career on the client. The career counselor is there to guide the client in the process of choosing the career, but it is not the counselor’s job to place the client in a career.
Labor Market Information. From there, the counselor will teach the client about the importance of labor market information. The client will need to examine the need for the job in the area he/she is wanting to work, the amount of jobs available in the field, salary possibilities, and possibilities of moving forward in the career (McKay, 2017). It is the role of the counselor to provide the client with useful information while refraining from allowing the counseling session to be taken over by conversations about the labor market (Bolles, Figler 2007). The counselor can provide access to this information through computerized systems, postings on websites, or paper sources. A popular source to labor market information is the ONet. The ONet provides the most up-to-date information on careers and is accessed on the internet (Brown, 2016).
Advocacy. To properly advocate for the client, the counselor must first be able to understand the backgrounds of both the client and the employer or person who has raised the need for advocacy. Then, the client needs to determine what the problem is and come up with a plan for solving it. The counselor must then put the plan into action, and further assess as necessary (Brown, 2016). Finally, reaching out to others who are speaking out against career-related issues would be beneficial, as forming alliances can help create change (Jennings, Mazur, 2008).
Approaches for Assessment. Holland’s Theory of Vocational Choice is an effective approach for assessing work environments and the client’s life experiences. Holland describes six types of work environments that could be chosen based on the client’s life experiences. The realistic environment is going to be more appealing to a person who has spent a majority of his/her life working outside or on projects that require physical stability. The investigative environment will seem more interesting to a person who has solved most problems by using personal intelligence. The artistic environment will be better for someone who has always been able to use imagination and personal emotions to solve problems. The social environment is going to be for the client who has always focused on the behaviors of others. The enterprising environment is going to be the environment for clients who have practice in persuading people or the ability to take charge. The conventional environment is a better environment for a client who thinks analytically. A client who has spent a lot of time analyzing and has developed the ability to analyze quickly will fit in a conventional environment (Brown, 2016).
Strategies for Development. Duane Brown discusses seven steps to developing and implementing a program. The first step is to gain support from administrators. This step is crucial because the administrator is the one who has to agree to begin planning the program. The second step is to determine preconditions. This step includes forming a budget, hiring staff, finding materials, and obtaining the technology required to start the program. The counselor should decide on a close estimate of the cost of the program before focusing on the design of the program. The counselor also needs to determine the reasonable goals of the program. The third step is to form a planning committee. The committee should include administrators, teaching faculty, other counselors, parents, and other members of the community. The committee should work together to form a program philosophy that is to be available for all to see. The fourth step is to conduct a needs assessment. The fifth step is to determine goals and objectives for reaching success in the program. The sixth step is to begin designing the program. This step will require the committee to focus on providing the most opportunities for success for the students. The final step is implementation. When implementing the program, the counselor should stick to the original budget. Also, the counselor should do research on management systems and determine which system is going to be the most efficient to manage the program (Brown, 2016).
References Brown, D. (2016). Career information, career counseling, and career development. Boston: Pearson. Figler, H. E., & Bolles, R. N. (2007). The career counselors handbook. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. McKay, D. R. (n.d.). The 4 Steps of the Career Planning Process. Retrieved https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-career-planning-process-524774
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