In a world that presents more academic and professional opportunities than ever, many young people find themselves at the crossroads, unsure of what path they want to follow. In this case, visiting a career counselor can be the right decision. In this essay, I will explain why I find Bandura’s social cognitive theory the most suitable approach and Holland’s vocational types the least suitable.
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The Most Suitable Approach: Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory
The central concept of Bandura’s social cognitive theory is that of self-efficacy. This concept is defined as a set of beliefs and convictions about one’s skills and abilities (Reid, 2016). These views might be quite rigid in some individuals; however, on the whole, they can be subject to major shifts and changes. Bandura’s self-efficacy concept overlaps with the theory of attribution — the one that explains how people attribute causes to events (Duval, Duval & Mayer, 2014).
For instance, a person who failed to land a desired job might think that it only proves his or her lack of general ability. Another person might attribute this unfortunate event to the underwhelming effort invested. Thus, it is easy to see how the level of self-efficacy influences individuals’ coping behaviors, how much effort they exert, and whether they persevere in the face of adversity.
I find Bandura’s theory reasonably relevant to the career counseling field. I envision myself applying it in my daily practice and convincing my clients that thoughts precede actions, and their concept of self affects career outcomes directly. Sometimes it takes a little faith to get out of the rut and motivate oneself to continue searching and trying. Moreover, self-efficacy is a well-described phenomenon with a lot of practical recommendations on how to enhance one’s way of thinking and foster mental growth (Reid, 2016).
The Least Suitable Approach: Holland’s Theory of Vocational Types
Determining types and categories of people according to their professional leanings might seem like a useful tool for a career counselor. For instance, Holland outlines six vocational types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional (Reid, 2016). The researcher claims that through occupation choice, an individual expresses his or her personality, and this decision is never random. Holland argues that it is possible to draw many parallels between people represented in each group since they share personality traits and react to situations and conflicts similarly (Reid, 2016). A person should strive to reach congruence between their personality and job environment, and that is the primary prerequisite for professional achievement, engagement, and satisfaction.
While I agree that people might lean toward a specific type, categorizing them in such a blunt way seems to be generalizing. Even though Holland’s theory allows for combinations such as the realistic-enterprising type, it does not capture the complexity of the human psyche. Moreover, the researcher goes as far as claiming that some types are masculine and some are feminine (Reid, 2016). In the modern world, such a distinction seems somewhat outdated and even discouraging. Lastly, this theory barely applies to adolescents and young adults who might still be in search of themself. Putting them in a box would prevent them from branching out and exploring.
Visiting a career counselor implies a relationship that is both personal and professional. Hence, a client should pay close attention to how a specialist chooses to approach him or her and their issue. Out of all the variety of career development theories, my favorite by far is that of Albert Bandura. I believe that self-efficacy is a concept that can be used by anyone to change the way they view themselves and gain more confidence. Holland’s theory of six vocational types seems valid to a certain extent. However, finding out the “right” type puts a label on an individual and might discourage them from considering other options.
Duval, S., Duval, V. H., & Mayer, F. S. (2014). Consistency and cognition: A theory of causal attribution. Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Psychology Press.
Reid, H. (2016). Introduction to career counseling and coaching. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK: Sage Publications.