Understanding career counselling


I’ve just finished reading Jennifer Kidd’s Understanding Career Counselling: Theory, Research and Practice. As part of my heads down cramming on everything career theory related it was pretty invaluable. It is an excellent book in setting out the wide range of theoretical positions that have informed career counselling. Very much a must read for all guidance professionals.



However, what struck me was the intellectual traditions that it drew on. While Kidd is careful to situate the discussion of career within a range of different literatures (psychology, sociology etc) what is clear is that the discussion of practice is very much constrained by the idea of the one to one counselling interview. Pedagogic theories that are highly influential hardly get a mention. There is certainly no extended discussion of what careers work might look like in a classroom setting.


When I talk about this guidance professionals are usually willing to concede that there are benefits to placing career learning in a group setting. However these are usually described in terms of efficiency and scalability with the one to one guidance session still being held up as the gold standard. The fact that Kidd doesn’t give any real space to work with groups shows that the classroom is still outside of the mainstream of careers work. I think that this is a mistake not simply because of issues of scalability but also because I think that learning is primarily a social process and one that is enhanced by undertaking it in a group.



I’m not trying to diminish the value of the conventional IAG one to one session. As this book shows it is a well-theorised intervention that is undoubtedly useful to a wide variety of people. What I do have some concerns about is the way that this delivery method has come to stand for careers work. It is a tool just as a session in a classroom, a weeks work placement or a computer mediated matching system is a tool. The practitioner’s job is surely to assess the learners, the learning that you are trying to encourage to happen and then to design an approach that is likely to bring that about. One to one guidance is likely to be an important part of that but it should not be seen as the pinnacle of careers work.



So can anyone recommend a book that provides the theory and practice of social/group-based careers work?



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