Attending to Clients' Psychological Needs During Career Construction Counseling.

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From: Career Development Quarterly(Vol. 69, Issue 2)
Publisher: National Career Development Association
Document Type: Article
Length: 8,796 words
Lexile Measure: 1390L

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Attending to clients' psychological needs during career counseling merits more attention in career theory and practice. We describe how the elaboration of clients' needs during career construction counseling supports clients' problem formulation. After reviewing the literature on the psychology of needs, we present and illustrate an intervention strategy with a case example. Counseling vignettes from the initial counseling task of problem formulation illustrate how to facilitate clients' narrative symbolization of their emotional experiences and associated needs. We explain how this strategy contributes to deepening clients' understanding of their problems and facilitates both the rewriting of a career narrative and the construction of new career plans. Analysis of the possibilities and limits of this practice merits attention in career counseling process research.

Keywords: needs, career construction counseling, problem formulation, career counseling process, counseling tasks


The concept of needs applied to human experience usually refers to a lack of some gratification, either physiological (e.g., hunger, thirst; Hull, 1943; Maslow, 1954) or psychological (e.g., affect, recognition; Dawis, 2002; Savickas, 1995). The concept of psychological needs is central to understanding human motivation (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Maslow, 1968; McAdams, 2008; Murray, 1938) because it addresses the question of why people do what they do. This is a familiar question for career counselors, guiding their efforts to support people in understanding why they make choices and design their lives in the way they do. In fact, clients' elaboration of their needs allows them to construct a sense of purpose and intentionality (Gonsalves et al., 2009; White & Epston, 1990). From the 1950s through the 1970s, many practitioners used a test battery to measure the motivational constructs of needs, values, and interests. According to Rounds and Armstrong (2014), the most popular measures of needs and values were the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule (Edwards, 1954) and the Study of Values (Allport & Vernon, 1931; Allport et al., 1970). With the popularity of Holland's vocational typology that subsumes the three motivational constructs in descriptions of vocational personalities and their operational definition in the Self-Directed Search, the use of separate inventories has languished (Gottfredson, 2002).

Understanding clients' psychological needs has garnered increased attention with the advent of the psychology of working framework (Blustein, 2006) and in counseling with narrative approaches to career construction (Hartung, 2013). In particular, career construction counseling (CCC; Savickas, 2019) highlights clients' needs as a core dimension to explain both the narrative elaboration of life experiences and the construction of career plans (Savickas, 1995). Therefore, we explain the importance of helping clients to explore their needs during the initial phase of CCC, especially as they focus on formulation of career problems. In so doing, we add to previous CCC conceptualizations wherein the narrative elaboration on needs is emphasized in the second phase of the intervention, during the task of rewriting the life narrative. Our contribution reinforces clients' exploration and elaboration of their needs as part of career counseling in general.

First, we present the concept of needs in both personality psychology and vocational psychology. Second,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A666103287