Career Counseling This Analysis Term Paper

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Career Counseling

This analysis of the career counseling profession's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats emphasizes the importance of the profession's contributions to fostering equality in a democratic society. Career counseling professionals and their National Career Development Association are well positioned to expand their concentration on fostering the career development of individuals to encompass advocacy about public policy and agency in changing systems. Advances in the use of technology, attention to multicultural issues, and advocacy of holistic models have the potential to enrich the career counseling profession's contributions to individual development and social equality.

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When I began working on this project in the summer of 2002, I did several things in addition to analyzing the career counseling and development profession and the National Career Development Association (NCDA) to identify their strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. First, I reflected on the more than 40 years I have been involved in NCDA since, as a graduate student, I joined the Twin Cities Vocational Guidance Association in Minnesota in the early 1960s. Second, I identified significant events, happenings, and milestones that I used regularly to introduce counseling students to the career counseling field in my Career Development courses at the University of Minnesota. I called the statement From Vocational Guidance to Career Development over Nine Decades: Past, Present, and Future. Third, I reviewed salient literature related to changes in the career counseling field, some by my late mentor and colleague, Henry Borow, and others by former and present leaders whose work has influenced my work.

Analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT)

Term Paper on Career Counseling This Analysis of the Career Assignment

Let us then turn to the SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats on which this special issue is based and briefly examine some of the global, national, and local issues that face us as a profession and as professionals. Following are what I believe are internal strengths of the profession of career counseling and development.

Internal Strengths of Career Development

One of NCDA's strengths is its strong organizational structure and leadership. Professional career counselors consist of a group of professionally trained master's of arts or PhD counselors, counselor educators, and para-professionals with specialties in career counseling or career development. We, as career counselors, work to facilitate choices and decisions people make over the life span in work and other life roles. We teach clients both the content and the process of making career decisions and transitions. We work with diverse populations in a variety of settings such as government, education (schools and colleges), agencies, business/industry, and independent practice. NCDA has a well-developed set of organizational structures clearly articulated by the NCDA (2000) "Mission, Values, and Goals" submitted by the NCDA Long-Range Plan Committee. It has also identified Career Counseling Competencies and Performance Indicators (NCDA, 1997). Basic competencies are required in 11 areas: career development theory; individual and group counseling skills; individual and group assessment; information/resources; program promotion, management, and implementation; coaching, consultation, and performance improvement; diverse populations; supervision; ethical/legal issues; research/evaluation; and technology. A more detailed description of the above is found on the NCDA Web page at http://www.ncda.org.It is also available in print from the NCDA office in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

There are several areas where internal strengths are real but where there are still miles to go. One is technological developments in relation to career exploration and planning, especially the creation of information systems and networks, cybercounseling for career planning, and ethical codes for counselors in using computer-assisted career guidance. A second strength has been the expanding international collaboration across cultures in creating, sharing, and delivering career guidance and counseling theories, materials, strategies, and programs. Among examples of the latter are the U.S.-Canadian collaboration on such projects as the U.S. National Career Development Guidelines -- for which the 1980 Minnesota Career Development Curriculum served as a primary resource (Tennyson, Hansen, Klaurens, & Antholz, 1980); the widespread adaptation of the Career Development Facilitators Training Project, which has been adapted for use in Japan and other countries; and the International Symposium meeting in Canada in 1999, sponsored by the Canadian Career Development Foundation, including publication of an incisive book with comparative descriptions of career counseling in each country. The symposium also stressed the need to seek additional ways to improve and expand government support for career guidance in public policy (Hiebert & Bezanson, 2000).

Another strength is the broadening of the field of career counseling itself, with a variety of advocates (i.e., change agents) urging inclusion of new topics and holistic approaches in career counseling. These topics include spirituality and work; the career development of girls and women; and the recognition that as the lives of women and girls change, men and boys will also change. Holistic approaches include the emphasis on life roles, life span career development, integrative life planning, narrative career counseling (or career as story), and constructivist career counseling (focusing on constructing one's own career by aligning personal needs with societal opportunities (Savickas, 1997). For the most part, many of these holistic approaches are just beginning. To the foregoing lists, I would include "new ways of knowing" and using qualitative methods along with quantitative methods in studies on career counseling. It is ironic that although many leaders in career counseling have made strong arguments about the limitations of matching approaches to career guidance and the need for more inclusive and holistic approaches, much of the funding in the U.S. And government initiatives is geared toward matching approaches (e.g., Tech Prep, School-to-Work, Work-Based Learning, One Stop Career Centers, and Workforce Development). Some computer developments seem to be going backward instead of forward in perpetuating primarily work and information-based vocational guidance and neglecting person-based career development practice.

Internal Weaknesses of Career Counseling number of internal weaknesses derive from the inability to agree on common definitions. Again, values enter in. Although many leaders have expressed concern that occupational information alone and traditional matching of people and jobs are not enough, I do not think holistic approaches have been integrated into many counselor education programs. Individuals who need a job to survive will probably benefit from traditional trait-and-factor approaches; a person who wants to do continuous life planning over the life span will profit from approaches that are more holistic and that include various life roles and goals and other dimensions of their lives. Another weakness is the reluctance or inability to see career counselors as change agents who can help not only individuals to change but systems to change as well. If we, as career counselors, are ever to expand our repertoire of skills to include work and family and other life roles, as well as organizational career development, we must build these areas into training programs. Although career counseling has made a start on attempting to meet the needs of diverse populations, the work has just begun. To use the late Gilbert Wrenn's term, there is still a considerable amount of cultural encapsulation (and ethnocentrism). The career counseling profession also needs to recruit more persons of color to its membership, its leadership positions, and its national conventions. After attending the annual NCDA conventions and luncheons for years, I am astounded at how few visible members of minority groups are in the organization.

NCDA has done a much better job than some organizations in attracting and electing strong women leaders as president over the years (about 25 women of 89 presidents since 1913, 2 of them women of color). Since 1966, 9 of 37 eminent career award winners have been women, with Anne Roe being the first. However, it was a huge disappointment when recent histories of career counseling in this journal omitted so many events related to human equality and in which women in career counseling and career development were almost invisible. One example of an omission of an event was the first NCDA Women's Gathering in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, in November 1990. It was there that five participants developed a new version of the agency (viewed as male) and communion (viewed as female) model called Self-Sufficiency and Connectedness: An Integrative Model of Female and Male Development (Andersen, Hansen, Lewis, Vetter, & Wickwire, 1990). I believe that if women were asked to write a history of NCDA and career counseling, the picture would be quite different from those available. A milestone I would include is the Women's Educational Equity Act of 1974 (WEEA), which in the 1970s and 1980s funded many career-related grants for specific populations of girls and women, including BORN FREE, which was the only program designed to remove barriers and expand career options for both women and men.

Another continuing weakness is the more subtle problem of women's ideas being ignored by professional colleagues and, when cited, often appear to be inadequate or inaccurate descriptions of their work. Some of this is due to the lack of awareness or "nonconscious sexism" or to the unconscious devaluing of women's work. Although much progress was made in new opportunities for women in the workplace and in gender awareness in schools and colleges in the last generation, much remains… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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