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Applying theory of career construction to case study

Applying theory of career construction to case study

The purpose of this case study is to apply Savickas’ Theory of Career Construction to a volunteer client Karen. Complete a narrative interview using the structured interview questions in the Career Style Interview, and employing the six steps. Discuss interpretations, observations and obtain her feedback.

Theoretical foundation of Career Construction Theory

The theoretical foundation of Career Construction theory (CCT) has its beginnings from Constructivism, and according to Sharf (2009) Constructivism is a psychological approach that has developed out of a postmodern philosophical position. It has been stated the Postmodernism period was a “reaction to modernism”, in that it highlighted the differences in individual views rather than a one-sided, rational scientific view of modernism. (Sharf 2009) Constructivist saw individuals as creators of their own destiny, and constructivist counselors sought to help clients discover that meaning and resolve any discrepancy. (Sharf 2009)

According to (Sharf 2009, p316) the constructivism approach was greatly affected by the changing of the work environments in the 1970’s. Employees were no longer staying with one position for their whole work life, as companies were becoming “less loyal” to employees and watching out for own bottom-line by “downsizing” their workforce to “part-time”. Employees soon discovered they needed to take charge of their future and looked to career counselors for help. According to (Busacca, 2007) constructivist career counseling attempts to answer one question “how can an individual negotiate a lifetime job changes and not lose a sense of self?”

Career construction theory (CCT) came about to help individuals develop meaning out of their career choices and actions. CCT addresses how an individual’s “career”, is made from its personal and social constructs or interactions. These constructs are not actual real reality, but an individual’s representation of that reality. CCT defines career as an objective and subjective construct. Objectively speaking, career is a listing of positions from the past to present. Subjectively, career is the personal meaning or a pattern of experiences from past, present and future. (Savickas, 2005, p43)

CCT is made of three distinct perspectives and each seeks to determine how the individual views their life and career, and how they work together. (Busacca, 2007) These perspectives are life theme, career adaptability, and vocational personality.

The Purpose and the Suppositions

The purpose of CCT is to help the individual discover the subjective meaning in their work. In helping the individual discover this type of meaning, CCT stress the importance of the relationship between the individual and the counselor.

Life themes

In Holland’s career development theory, his inventories were used to obtain critical information about the individual, and make predictions about a career path, and also the likely hood of success along this path. Career construction theory takes advantage of the individual’s narrated work stories to discover any meanings or patterns. (Busacca, 2007) It has been stated that “pattern is the primary unit of meaning”. “By consciously organizing and binding together these discrete experiences, a unifying life theme patterns” (Savickas 2005, p 58) “patterns becomes a fundamental and essential way of being because it provides a way for individuals to see themselves and see what is important in the world.” (Savickas, 2005 p58)

During a counseling session the individual is encouraged to tell about their work positions, experiences. They are also asked to develop a story linking career related experiences from the past to the present. The story becomes the focus of attention as individual narrates the counselor through their work and life stories. The counselor plays a less active role and listens for patterns in the individual’s story. (Busacca, 2007)

Career Adaptability

Once an individual has discovered a life theme, how they go about coping with the process of connecting with social expectations and “how” they construct their careers is the next step. (Savickas, 2005) Career counselors begin to ask questions of the individual such as “How did you decide on that career?’ This is an important question to ask, because it relates to how the individual is choosing to cope or react to their social expectations. (Savickas 2005) stated adaptation was the interaction of “self” and “society” and it is this interaction where an individual develops their attitudes, beliefs, problem-solving and coping mechanisms. He went on to discuss four stages of adaptation resources. These resources are concern, control, curiosity and confidence. (Savickas, 2005)

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During the career concern stage, a career counselor focuses on whether an individual is concern about their future. A statement commonly made by individuals in this stage would be “Do I have a future.” A lack of career concern has a likelihood of becoming indifference which usually reflects a feeling of pessimism about the future. Career concern is important because it helps the individual to relate their current activities to future endeavors. The goal of this stage is the building of continuity of past and future career activities. (Savickas, 2005) (Busacca, 2007)

The career control stage, a career counselor focuses on whether the individual feels or believes they are responsible for their careers. A statement commonly made by individuals in this stage would be “Who owns my future?” The lack of career control has a likelihood of becoming career indecisiveness and can lead to attitudes of indecision. The goal of this stage is deciding by clarifying choices. (Savickas, 2005) (Busacca, 2007)

The career curiosity stage, a career counselor focuses on whether the individual has discovered fit between self and the world of work. A statement commonly made by individuals in this stage would be “What do I want to do with my future?” The lack of career curiosity has the likelihood of becoming naïve about work options. The goal of this stage is exploration, learning about self and clarifying values. (Savickas, 2005) (Busacca, 2007)

The career confidence stage, a career counselor would focuses on whether the individual displayed self esteem, self efficacy and encouragement. A statement commonly made by an individual in this stage would be “Can I do it?” A lack of career confidence has a likelihood of becoming unmotivated and unwilling to obtain their goals. The goal of this stage is to increase self acceptance, develop problem solving abilities and encourage the willingness to try even when things look dark. (Busacca, 2007) (Savickas, 2005)

Vocational Personality

According to (Savickas, 2005) an individual’s personality begins in the family, neighborhoods, and school. As that individual grows up, their characteristics are displayed everyday while doing housework, completing hobbies and playing games. CCT views these characteristics possibilities or “hypothesis” to explore for the discovering meaning. Unlike Holland’s RAISEC which use an objective person-environment fit, CCT uses a subjective approach in demonstrating to the individual how they are similar to others in a given field, and share common feelings and ideas about work related activities.

Account of Session with Karen

Career Style Interview with Karen

Karen is 46 year old divorced African American women with three adult children. She attended Central Florida College and has received her Associates in Health information management. She is currently attending classes at University of Phoenix, and is enrolled in the Healthcare Administration program. Karen started her employment at a nursing home at the age of 18. At the nursing home she held the position for Nurses Aide for four years. Karen says after that four years she demonstrated to the management team the characteristics of commitment and dedication. Karen was promoted to unit clerk at the nursing home. She held that position for two years and was again promoted to medical record where she held the title of medical records specialist for five years. Karen reports she was then laid off from the nursing home for four months. She kept her faith and was able to secure a position as a receptionist at a law firm. She kept that position for 6 months and obtained a position a major hospital in the medical records department. She worked in that department for next nine years. Once again she was promoted, now to Compliance officer, where she helped enforce the policies and procedures of the hospital. After one year she was asked by hospital administration to manage the medical records department and is currently the director of medical records.

The Career Style Interview is currently being used to elicit self defining stories and identify Karen’s life themes and patterns.

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How can I as a counselor be helpful to you in constructing your career?

When asked how career counseling could be helpful, Karen replied ” I’ve been told I need to look into changing fields from healthcare to business administration. So If I needed to use the services of a career counselor, it would be to help me map out a plan to switch me to the business program.

Whom did you admire when you were growing up?

Karen replied when she was growing up she admired her sister Vernice. Vernice display strong character and tenacity to get through hard times. Karen connected with this aspect because she often wanted or need the strength to go on despite many adversities in her own life. Karen admired her mother next. Her mother has been ridiculed with numerous health issues and her mother kept her faith in God and fought back when others had given up on her. She next admired Michelle Obama for her sincerity and her down to earth presentation. She state, “when Michelle speaks I can believe it, because I know she is speaking from the heart.”

Describe your favorite magazine, book, and TV show.

Karen states her favorite magazine is Essence magazine. She states, “the magazine affects the culture of African American and is very informative. She mentions her favorite book is F. and her favorite TV show is Little house on the prairie. She says, “I love that show because it’s Christian based and it country, and I love the county.”

What are your favorite hobbies and leisure time activities?

Karen states her favorite hobby is bowling. She replies, “I like bowling because it can be done by yourself or with a group. You can be competitive or just relaxing.

Do you have any favorite mottos?

Karen states her favorite motto is “you can do all things through Christ that strengths you.”

What are your favorite and worse subjects in high school?

Karen states her favorite subject is high school was creative writing, history. I love to writing and telling a story and being the center of attention.

What career did you parents want you to follow?

When asked what career did you parents believe you would be well suited for she replied, ” My parents wanted me to be a medical doctor.

Describe for me four early recollections and give a story title for each one.

Summertime in the Country; we did have a TV and when we got done working in the fields, we would go down to the creek. The creek is where everyone would be and we would eat watermelons until we were fat.

New adventures at the beach: one summer when I was eighteen, a group of three boys and two girls went to the beach to go horseback riding. I was scared at first, because the horse didn’t have a saddle on it.

Bring life unto the world; I remember the birth of my first child, who is dead now. I he was still alive today he would be twenty-five. I love him and I enjoy having the bundle of joy in my arms.

The obedience to God: when I was eighteen, I gave a speech to the people at the church. Back then I was good at speaking. I spoke with such a demanding tone everyone in the church stopped and listen. To this day that was one of the best speeches I ever gave.

Karen’s Vocational Personality, Career Adaptability and Life Theme

Using (Savikas, 2005, p62) six steps I first make sense out of Karen’s stories by reviewing how career counseling can be helpful. In response to my introductory question “How can I be helpful to you in constructing you career”? Karen stated she wanted to be more organize, structured and have a action-oriented goal plan. Karen recognized she is not getting as much done as she would like to be. She also recognizes that structure gives her the strength to be methodical, which is one of the characteristics her role model Matlock displayed. She is attempting to exert some career concern and control over her future. Karen mentions “organized” and “action-oriented goal plan” and these three terms reflect on Karen’s level of adaptability. By seeking organization and action oriented goal plans, she is directly providing answers the question “Do I have a future” (career concern), “Who own my future (career control) and “Can I do it” (career confidence)

Second, I look for the verbs in her early recollection.

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Third, Examining headlines to early recollections

Fourth, moving from Preoccupation to Occupation

Observations of Karen



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