Counseling for Career Choice


Help clients build up sense of personal power and improve decision-making skills, help them differentiate between what they can and cannot control.  To support their autonomy to make decisions for themselves.


  1. Awareness of the problem:
    • How do you feel about not knowing?  Reflect back their feelings.  Let them sit with it.  How does it feel to tell me that?
    • What if you make the wrong decision?
  2. Statement of the problem:
    • What do you want?  How will you know if you made a decision you are happy with?  Be specific.
  3. Brainstorm solutions:
    1. What careers interest you?
      • They have a whole lifetime of making decisions before them, and many experiences to draw on.
    2. Ask about (research supported)
      • Role models
      • Early memories
      • Life themes
    3. if having trouble, have them take the test in session (research supported)
    4. Look up more information on some of the suggested occupations that interest client in session (research supported)
    5. If you have several interests, is there a way to combine them?
  4. Examination of pros and cons of each option
    • Discuss each in turn
    • Have them write an occupation analysis and comparison (research supported) including which choices will be supported by the people that are important to them, and how to find others for choices that don’t (research supported)
      • Why this is helpful: Jamie Pennebaker, has developed a writing exercise that is typically done three or four nights in a row, where you write about a problem for about 15 minutes each time.  Doing so has remarkable long-term benefits on people’s health and well-being… What these writing exercises do is make us address problems that we haven’t been able to make sense of  and put us through a sense-making process of reworking it in such a way that we gain a new perspective and find some meaning, so that we basically come up with a better story that allows us to put that problem behind us.
      • 84% of the studies with the best results included written analysis
  5. Make a Choice
    • Have them meet with people in the field, particularly others who struggled with the decision (research supported)
  6. Action
    1. Talk about who they know that they can use for support, or how to develop supportive relationships (research supported)
    2. Write specific goals and future plans based on what they learned (research supported)
    3. Put down in writing when and where they will engage in goal-directed behavior


Brown, S. D., Ryan Krane, N. E., Brecheisen, J., Castelino, P., Budisin, I., Miller, M., & Edens, L. (2003). Critical ingredients of career choice interventions: More analyses and new hypotheses. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 62(3), 411-428.

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