By June Dressler, PhD, MA Counseling, Career Counselor/Educator, Pacific University
A scene from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade CLIP HERE features a venerable knight guarding the Holy Grail. Only those who choose wisely can drink from the chalice and live, while those who choose poorly . . . end up a pile of ash. Career advisors often have a front row seat to the many forms of ash left in the wake of misaligned careers chosen poorly. As career professionals, we have great opportunity to help clients make informed choices. Dr. Itamar Gati claims unabashedly that career counseling is decision counseling!
Why is career decision making so difficult for many of our clients?Gati has contributed a robust body of work to identify career decision-making difficulties. He locates several unique features that contribute to the complexity of career indecision. These include the quantity and quality or occupational information, the uncertainty about individual’s future preferences, and non-cognitive factors.
The quantity of career information is unlimited with information overload being the norm. It can be overwhelming to sort through online data, and problematic to determine the quality and credibility of contradictory reports. Biased, inaccurate, and/or subjective career information offered by well-intentioned family and friends can be misleading. Uncertainty about unpredictable factors can be perplexing e.g., the economy, technological advances, demographic shifts, future X factors that are presently unknown. Non-cognitive factors i.e., emotions, personality, actual and perceived social barriers also complicate the decision process.
What specific career decision difficulties do clients face?Although difficulties are unique to each person, Gati and his research team identified ten foci of career decision-making difficulties organized as follows:
DURING THE PROCESS
Lack of Information about
How can we help our clients/students address their career decision difficulty?First, identify what their specific difficulty is through conducting a guided interview or taking an inventory such as the Career Decision-making Difficulties Questionnaire (CDDQ) a free online tool available on LINK HERE. Once you and the client are clear on their specific difficulty, introduce intervention(s) appropriate to their need. For example, providing more occupational information for a client who lacks self-awareness is less effective than helping them explore their abilities, strengths, and values.
Although Dr. Gati has made great strides defining career decision-making difficulties, there is still much we as practitioners can do. By providing targeted interventions appropriate to client’s decision difficulty, we are better equipped to facilitate informed career choices. Career advisors have a front row seat to many inspiring accounts of clients overcoming difficulties by making informed decisions, wiser choices only to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.
Questions for us to consider
Amir, T., & Gati, I. (2006). Facets of career decision-making difficulties. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 34(4), 483-503.Gati, I., Krausz, M., & Osipow, S. H. (1996). A taxonomy of difficulties in career decision making. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 43, 510-526.