What is vocational counselling?
Vocational or career counselling is a specifically focused counselling to help people identify the types of work or careers that are best suited to them. In the process, it is likely that the range of skills, interests, and abilities that we all have but are unaware of, or take for granted, will be uncovered.
Why have vocational counselling?
Many of the major decisions in life are made without adequate information. Choosing a career is a prime example of this. While at school, we are forced into making subject and career choices that we really can’t know the full implications of. We often initially choose a career path at a time when we are limited in our knowledge of the choices available, and probably also lack knowledge of our own interests and skills, and the type of work setting to which we are best suited.
When is it useful?
It is not surprising under these circumstances, and with the rapidly changing technological world, that most people make at least three major career changes during their working life. Vocational / career counselling can be helpful at almost any point along a working life:
- in secondary school while trying to choose subjects
- when at university and struggling to know whether you’ve chosen the right course
- when you’re trying to decide what sort of jobs or courses to apply for
- when a job doesn’t seem to be working out
- when you feel ready for a career change
- when change is forced upon you by illness, injury, redundancy, or other outside forces
- when you’re considering semi-retirement
Having a greater knowledge of our interests and abilities makes it more likely that our career choices will meet our needs and suit us as individuals and in the sort of lifestyle we would like to have.
How does it work?
Vocational counselling is not a rigid process, but rather is adapted to the requirements of each individual. It can be comprised of a variety of components:
- Interview: The first step in obtaining the information necessary to make an informed choice about types of jobs or careers is a detailed interview. This will cover things such as past experiences, skills, interests, personality, and preferences about type of workplace. All of these are very relevant to the choice of future employment.
- Personality Assessment: This is not as threatening as it sounds! The purpose is not to identify any personality flaws, but rather to recognise your preferences for things such as how outgoing you are, how independent you like to be, and the sort of situations in which you feel most comfortable.
- Intellectual Assessment: Once again, this is not a threatening process, but rather another step in gathering information relevant to selecting suitable employment. The purpose is not to determine IQ, but rather to understand more about your pattern of strengths and weaknesses in terms of different types of thinking and problem solving.
- Vocational Assessment: A formal measure of interest in various types of work is used to add to the information gained from the other measures.
- Written Report: At the end of the assessment, a report summarising the findings of all of these components and providing suggestions will be written. As well as being of immediate use, this will be a useful document to refer back to over time.
How long does the process take?
Vocational counselling needs to be an individual process; therefore it can take varying amounts of time. However, generally it can be expected that the assessment will take two sessions of one to two hours. The information will be summarised and discussed at a third session.