Career Development Plan and Counseling

Career development planning and counseling connected with this issue are rather helpful o people whose lives are complicated by various health and psychological problems, stresses, and depressions. Being confused about the variety of life problems, these people might need guidance as to where to direct their working energy and potential. Therefore, the initial data that I will be interested in while carrying out an intake interview or the questionnaire survey of the background of the particular client, Alaina in this case, will be the data concerning the client’s past, working experience, and basic living interests besides working. Using the techniques of career genogram, multiple counseling sessions, and specially selected intervention types, I will try to retrieve as much information as possible from the client to help her in solving her further career development uncertainties. The initial step of the counseling process, on the whole, will be the consideration of the client’s career genogram and making conclusions from the information retrieved (Genogram, 2009).

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 Career Genogram.
Figure 1. Career Genogram.

The major use of the career genogram is the ability to see if the family of the client influences her career development and educational choices (Genogram, 2009). Seeing that Alaina’s mother and sister are teachers, it becomes obvious why Alaina worked as a teacher, and why she currently considers going back to school. Alaina’s husband is also connected to education as he spent 10 years as a psychologist at the University of Rochester. Accordingly, both family influence and the possible genetic inclination of Alaina to work in education can affect her career development choices, even if her rationale tells her to choose another alternative. Therefore, the career genogram of Alaina’s family allows seeing the background of the client and building further counseling sessions on this basis (Genogram, 2009).

Needless to say, the information retrieved through the intake interview, questionnaire survey, and compiling a career genogram of Alaina’s family is rather valuable for the whole course of career counseling (Whiston, 2002, p. 218). First of all, this information allows getting closer acquainted with the client, which helps in the establishment of friendly and cooperative relations between the counselor and the client during the counseling sessions. Knowing the background of the client, it is possible to find the hidden reasons for some phenomena that neither client nor other counselors could explain. For instance, Alaina’s family’s connection to educational work has been observed at least for two generations. This fact and the family status of a married woman with two children explain the confusion of the client who wants to find another career development direction but is always directed to work as a teacher. Moreover, the initially retrieved information allows understanding the reasons that made the client apply for counseling and helps the counselor build further sessions with this client.

The reason that made Alaina apply for counseling in the career issues was her confusion about her future. In more detail, Alaina has immense experience of working in various positions ranging from an elementary school teacher to the company curriculum development consultant. Her educational record is also impressive but rather wide in scope, which does not allow Alaina to focus on one particular sphere of activity. Alaina holds a B.A. in English (summa cum laude) with a minor in Journalism, and an M.S. (with distinction) in Education, thinks of working as a sports journalist, dietician, or elementary school teacher. The situation is complicated by the mild low-grade depression that made Alaina address psychologists and take fluoxetine daily. Alaina’s personal preferences in career development are confronted by this background and friends’ advice to take up an educational career again. Being lost in this variety of advice, perspectives, and uncertainties, Alaina addressed the career development counselor to help her create the career development plan.

Having considered the client’s issues, her background, and career prospect ideas, it is possible to identify the major issues that Alaina should address to fight her confusion in the respect of career development (Whiston, 2002, p. 218). On the whole, there are three major issues that Alaina faces in her life and that prevent her from making her own choices based on a firm confidence in their correctness. These issues include the genetic inclination to the educational work, the psychological pressure exercised by Alaina’s family members and friends, and the subsequent low-grade depression. According to the level of seriousness of those issues, they can be placed in the following order from the most to the least serious:

  1. Genetic inclination to the educational work;
  2. Low-grade depression;
  3. Psychological pressure from family and friends.

The genetic issue is placed to the top as it is the most difficult one to solve, and is behind the power of career counseling. The depression issue is the second most serious as it prevents Alain from deciding and acting according to her own will and rationale. Finally, psychological pressure from outside is considered to be the least serious because it can be fought directly through the counseling sessions and seems, at this stage of the case development, to be the easiest one to solve.

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It is necessary to mention that the client, in this case, is suffering a mild form of low-grade depression. This fact is rather important because the very process of counseling, the techniques, and intervention types chosen, as well as the number of sessions needed, depend greatly upon the psychological state of the client and the change of this state during the counseling process. Therefore, the fact that Alaina experiences low-grade depression and needs to take 20 mg of fluoxetine daily makes the design of the counseling in this particular case more careful and more varied at the same time. The policies of contacts establishments and interventions should be adjusted to the special psychological state of the client, and special emphasis should be put on Alaina’s assets and professional strengths (Whiston, 2002, p. 218). This will allow preserving the psychological balance of the person, or at least will not allow worsening the depression state experienced by Alaina.

The assets and strengths of the client, in this case, are rather numerous. This can be explained by both the family background and the personal commitment of Alaina to her educational and professional development. First of all, the client currently possesses a great variety of educational work and counseling skills retrieved from her work in the school and the consulting firm. Alaina has the communicative skills and the knowledge of the basic teaching techniques applied for both teachings the students at elementary schools and consulting adults in their professional matters and developmental issues. Moreover, Alaina displays a firm commitment to the acquisition of additional skills, mainly concerning other spheres of activity including journalism, counseling, and even dietician practice. Based on her sporting background, Alaina aims at becoming a professional journalist writing on sports or a dietician, at whose position she might use her knowledge and acquire new skills in counseling and helping people.

Based on this background information, it is obvious that the issue with Alaina is that she does not dare make decisions about her future career. These are the main decisions she must take to solve the problems she faces and overcome the psychological stress and depression (Brown et al., 2003, pp. 411 – 412). Alaina should decide what career development is preferable for her, what her actual calling for is, and whether she can go against her family’s advice and make her own choice and take the responsibility for it. Individualized interpretations and modeling seem the most effective interventions in the case as they will allow involve the client in the counseling process and make the number of sessions needed less as the client will not only enjoy the outcomes of the work but participate in it and learn to cope with her problems faster (Brown et al., 2003, p. 412).

The cognitive information processing (CIP) approach can be helpful as it involves the inclusion of the client into the problem-solution instead of letting him/her enjoy the results of work done by others (Lenz et al., 2009). Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) approach can also be of help as it presupposes the idea of the rationality of career choices made by people and unconditional reception of the expected outcomes of career choice activities if the latter are carried out properly (Lenz et al., 2009). Thus, CIP and SCCT can help solve Alaina’s issues faster and at a higher level of proficiency as the client will be involved in the counselor’s work, observe it from the inside, and see that the issues she faces can be easily overcome.

All the above considered, it is necessary to increase the potential efficiency of the career development counseling through the establishment of the working alliance and partnership relations with the client (Bolles, 1999, pp. 34 – 35). To establish rapport, encouragement, and support from the client, it is necessary to use some of the 12 essential skills of the career counselor. These skills include clarifying the content, reflecting the feeling of the client, open-ended questioning, skills identifying, value clarification, creative imagining, information giving, role-playing, spot-checking, summarizing, tasks setting, and establishing the “Yes, Buts” (Bolles, 1999, pp. 34 – 35). Each of these skills, as well as any combination of these skills, is greatly useful for establishing contact with the client. The 12 essential skills of the counselor will allow letting Alaina know that the counselor understands her issue and her attitude to it is ready to listen to and consider any comments and remarks she might want to make on the issue and can help her only if she is committed to participating in this work.

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Multicultural issues are also involved in establishing working contacts with the client. Being a daughter of a Greek mother and an Irish-American father, Alaina displays the features typical of these nations. Having inherited Greek character traits, Alaina is rather expressive and emotional in her thoughts and activities, but she is taught to obey her parents and to consider their decisions to be the most adequate ones. At the same time, the Irish stubborn and committed character is also observed in Alaina’s actions and decisions. Even the confusion that led to the counseling process can be explained by the opposition of the two multiracial features of Alaina’s character as on the one hand Alaina should agree to the decision of her family but on the other hand her will rebels against this. Accordingly, in establishing contact with Alaina, the counselor should pay attention to these multicultural issues and avoid imposing his decisions or ideas upon Alaina.

Considering the above information, it is necessary to establish the goals for the counseling process and involve the client in this process (SCU, 2009). The major goals should be to solve the problem reported by Alaina and help her decide her future career development direction. These goals can be subdivided into minor ones that might include the necessity to understand the core of Alaina’s psychological issue and explain it to the client, inquire about the family situation of the client and find out the influence the family opinion might have upon Alaina’s decision in practice (SCU, 2009). As well, the minor goals might be to teach Alaina to defend her opinion and ground it against the advice of others in case if this advice contradicts her preference. Finally, the goals will include letting Alaina define her career development priorities and see how she might realize her plans in practice. For the better confidence of the client, the contract will be concluded for the 15 counseling sessions that seem to be enough given the current data on Alaina’s issue. Further extension of the counseling process can be resorted to in case of necessity (SCU, 2009).

Given the complicated psychological and social conditions in which Alaina has to operate, the vocational assessment is viewed as an excessive measure that might bring more harm than use to the counseling process (Perry, 2009). Therefore, no vocational assessment will be carried out at this stage of the counseling. The reasons for this include the fact that vocational assessment is the tool of objective monitoring and checking the professional skills of the client, and if some drawbacks of Alaina’s skills will be found, their reporting might worsen the depression she suffers from. As the counselor cannot avoid reporting the results or report them partially, it is assumed that it would be better for the counseling outcomes to limit the skills clarification only by preliminary, generalized data gathered from the intake interview, questionnaire, and the client’s background (Perry, 2009).

The information about the counseling, training, and employment opportunities, if given to the client at the right time, will greatly facilitate the counseling efficiency (Whiston, 2002, p. 218). Firstly, Alaina will see that she is not the only person with a career development problem. Secondly, the client will observe the people who have already gone through counseling and succeeded in their careers after it. Finally, the access to the employment resources will give Alaina a clear focus for her future and provide specific data on where she could apply her skills or what additional skills she might need in the position (Whiston, 2002, p. 218).

To exemplify the career prospects that might open for Alaina after the successful course of counseling, it would be rather beneficial to provide the client with the best Internet-based resources that allow either finding a position in the area of one’s interest or placing the resume for the consideration of the most advanced companies in the market (Whiston, 2002, p. 218). The best job sources today include CareerBuilder, Indeed, SimplyHired CraigsList, Monster, Yahoo! Hot Jobs, and even the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To monitor the client’s progress on the way of achieving the established goals and to make any corrections if necessary, it is necessary to appoint the monthly meeting with the clients to allow Alaina to report her achievements and engage her in the discussion of them (Bolles, 1999, p. 55). Alaina will have to specifically state the steps she has taken to reach her goals during the particular month and assess the efficiency of those steps critically. Moreover, Alaina will be asked to offer any improvements if she considers something to be necessary to help her solve her career development problems. Finally, if the counselor or the client observes the lack of the expected results of counseling, additional sessions should be appointed to work on the points that were lost at first and led to the complications.


  1. Bolles, R. N. (1999). The career counselor’s handbook. Ten Speed Press.
  2. Brown, S.D., & Ryan Krane, N.E., Brecheisen, J., Castelino, P., Budisen, I., Miller, M., and Edens. L. (2003). Critical ingredients of career choice interventions: More analyses and new hypotheses. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 62, 411-428.
  3. Genogram. (2009). Genogram Creation.
  4. Lenz, J. G. et al. (2009). Examining cognitive career theories: Current status, future trends, implications for the development and implementation of guidance services.
  5. Perry, D. (2009).A Tool for Finding the Right Match between People with Disabilities and Occupations.
  6. SCU. (2009). Action Plan.
  7. Whiston, S. C. (2002). Career Counseling and Interventions. The Counseling Psychologist, 30(2), 218-237.
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