Values and Career

Theories of career counseling have been developed to help counselors apply their understanding of various behaviors in order to efficaciously and efficiently guide clients with career development and choices. Capuzzi & Stauffer (2006) stated “Before being able to effectively and efficiently provide career services appropriate to our times, the counselor must understand well established and emerging career theories, [and] their strengths and weaknesses… for diverse populations and a rapidly changing vocational terrain” (p.40).
According to Capuzzi & Stauffer (2006) the various theories of career counseling can be classified into several categories: Trait and factor theories; Developmental theories; Cognitive learning theories and approaches; Psychodynamic theories, and several more including some not so well known such as value based theory and chance/accident theory. Theories simplify complex human behavior and are therefore helpful as tools, which help us to understand ourselves and our clients. Krumboltz (as cited by Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2007) stated that the theory provides a simplified framework of the behavior it attempts to describe and illuminate much like a map describes a territory we may want to study or travel (p.41). The only thing I might add to this is something I have been saying now for some time and that is: “Do not ever confuse the map for the territory”. In other words, what is real is the experience not the representation and we should never fit the evidence to the map.

Most of the theories describe different ways of considering individual traits for the purpose of appropriately matching career paths with personalities, and satisfaction depending on the viewpoint of the theory. The task at hand is to find the theory that most suits the ideologies and make-up of the individual in order to find career paths that are lasting and fulfilling.

The theory that rings true for me is “Values-based career counseling”. I strongly believe that when one’s values are not in sync with one’s behavior that over time this will lead to dissatisfaction and poor performance. It is my belief that when values are not in sync with beliefs that this sets up a situation of dissatisfaction and I think a host of other dysfunctional behaviors which are not efficacious to career or life satisfaction. Values need to be backed-up by behavior or the individual will not be happy for long for: until “the structure of an individual’s values matches the value structure of the work environment” (p.48) the conflict will not allow for success. I think that when values, beliefs and behavior are not aligned and prioritized, people (workers) are not happy.

People in recovery, and who may be seeking new careers, may find that the source of their dissatisfaction in their lives is due to his or her values not being aligned with his or her behavior. This conflict can set up defensive behaviors as the person tries to escape the conflict and discomfort of not being authentic. A person’s true values could be buried under society’s expectations of that person and he or she may have lost touch with what is important. Rediscovering one’s values and shaping behavior that expresses a deeper truth may be more rewarding and therefore set up a lifetime of personal reform.

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