The Career Counseling Process

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  • 1:12 Credentialing
  • 1:58 The Career Counseling Process
  • 2:54 Initiation Stage
  • 3:12 Exploration Stage
  • 4:06 The Career Library
  • 5:27 Decision Making & Preparation
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michele Chism

Michele is presently a part time adjunct instructor at Faulkner University in the Counselor Education Department where she teaches Measurement and Assessment and Diagnosis and Treatment. I formerly taught at the University of West Alabama where I taught School Counseling and College Student Development Counseling. I was also the Student Success Coordinator for the College of Education.

Career counseling helps individuals discover their career path. In this lesson, you will learn about credentialing, the counseling process, the role of the career counselor, and the purpose of a career center.

Career Counselor

As the economy has suffered in recent years, and as we make a recovery, it becomes more evident that career counseling, the process of assisting individuals in the development of a career, is important. Career development lessons are part of the National School Counselor Association core curriculum beginning in kindergarten and continuing to graduation. In college, the career center and the career counselors can be valuable tools for students throughout their college experience. Many find that career counseling does not stop at college, but becomes important at different times in life, as the individual decides to change jobs, change careers, or return to school.

Gracie, a graduate student in counseling, has been taking a career development course in graduate school. She finds she is particularly interested in career counseling and likely would be interested in pursuing it as her specialization. Upon telling her advisor, she decided to do her internship at the career center, which is the place to go on campus for help with career decision making. Career centers are staffed with career counselors, who are trained to work with students who are undecided about their major. She met Shelby, her internship supervisor at the career center, who first told her about becoming involved in the career counseling organization and certification.


Shelby told Gracie that the National Career Development Association, a division of the American Counseling Association, is the nationally recognized organization for career counselors. Counselors who wish to be certified as a National Certified Career Counselor should work toward the following memberships. There are three membership categories: Fellow, Master Career Counselor, and Master Career Development Professional, which all have specific standards to meet. She also mentioned the importance of having state licensure as a counselor. Shelby told her that having credentials shows that you are committed to your specialization and want to be among the best.

The Career Counseling Process

As Shelby gave Gracie a tour of the center, and showed her where her internship office was, she explained that the career center was using a Five Processes Plan of Career Counseling developed by Kris Magnusson, a professor at The University of Calgary, to work with students. The process is fairly simple. Gracie will be able to use it with clients almost immediately.

This process begins with initiation, although the process is cyclical. Initiation begins the counseling relationship and establishing what the need is. The next stage, exploration, is a gathering and studying of information. Decision making, or narrowing down the choices and ultimately choosing a career path, will take some time. Preparation is developing the plan for reaching the chosen goal. Finally, implementation is when the individual carries out the plan. This was similar to what Gracie had studied in class and felt it would be easy to do.

Initiation Stage

Shelby explained that they followed the process in working with their clients, but it worked well with alumni and others as well. As she explained, during the initiation stage, the counselor and client develop a relationship in which the counselor determines why the client wants to change and provides encouragement.

Exploration Stage

During exploration, the client finds out about themselves and their interests. It is during this time that clients may take interest inventories and tests to see what they are interested in and what their abilities are. Some of the most popular inventories are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which tells the individual about four different personality topics that then comprise 16 different types. The client's 4-letter type can tell them a lot about their personality makeup, which then relates to their career choices.

The Myers-Briggs is usually taken in conjunction with interest inventories that will point out occupations that the client might like. The interest inventories are taken with tests, such as The Strong Interest Inventory (SII) and the Self-Directed Search. These usually look at the person's traits and interests and then compare those to individuals in those jobs. Many of these are available online.

The Career Library

Shelby said that the career center had a staff of counselors and a director, Dr. Brown. Shelby explained that when someone comes in, they make an appointment with a counselor. The counselor will meet with and set up a schedule. The client may then take personality inventories and interest inventories in the testing room.

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