General Tips

  • Helping ease client’s beliefs about careers and understand that they are not alone in their difficulties in this process can be singularly powerful.  In other words, knowledge can fundamentally change lives by altering our narratives and expectations.  From Timothy D. Wilson:

    [We gathered] freshman who were doing poor academically and were caught in a self-defeating thought cycle in which they were blaming themselves and thinking they were an admissions error that just couldn’t cut it at college (which of course made it all the more difficult to study). >We did an intervention where in 30 minutes we gave them some facts and testimonials from other students that suggested that their problems might have a different cause; namely, that it’s hard to learn the ropes in college at first, but that people do better as the college years go on, when they learn to adjust and to study differently than they did in high school and so on. This little message that maybe it’s not me, it’s the situation I’m in, and that that can change, seemed to alter people’s stories in ways that had dramatic effects down the road. Namely, people who got this message, as compared to a control group that did not, got better grades over the next couple of years and were less likely to drop out of college.

  • Praise clients for what they have accomplished, what they are good at, and their strengths in other parts of their lives.  This will help boost their self-confidence and therefore their ability to handle this challenge.  Again, Timothy D. Wilson explains:

Self-affirmation theory: the idea that when we feel a threat to our self-esteem, sometimes the best thing we can do is to affirm ourselves in some completely different domain. If I am concerned that I can’t make it in academics, it can take the heat off that concern if I think of something I’m very good at and I care about in some other domain, such as I’m a family man or interested in politics or what-have-you.  Research on self-affirmation theory was done mostly with college students in the laboratory, showing that affirming oneself in an unrelated domain is a powerful way to restore self-esteem.


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