Traditional theories provide frameworks that underpin modern thinking. This situation has significantly influenced people’s everyday endeavours and career choices; hence, they dictate what individuals will become in the future. Most traditional career theories inculcate numerous forms of thinking in individuals. These traditional methods of rationality have greatly influenced the psychological positions and interests of individuals.
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Personality is regarded as a manager of an individual’s life. However, adoption of traditional theories in psychological therapy also affects personality. Sociological approaches have also influenced the choice of occupations. Today, people shift careers with respect to prevailing life situations. Although many people strive to achieve specialised life-long careers, changing social and economic systems have compelled them to shift from one occupation to another. This situation has numerously resulted in confusion since many factors that lead to career shifts are not only limited to wrong choice but also depend on change in labour force, restructuring of occupations, and networks of intertwined cultural differences.
Therefore, it is important to appreciate career development not only in terms of environment and vocational development designs but also through mobility and flexibility. Independent approaches to various career choices are only based on the flexibility of individuals to choose careers that are relevant to dynamic economic situations of modern societies. This state of affairs pegs a question of whether the traditional theories are congruent with present individual views about career choices. This essay provides a critical evaluation of the influence of traditional theories of career choice and guidance practice in relation to psychological therapist occupational paths.
Factors influencing the Choice of a Career Path
The process of making a career decision involves selection of competing alternatives that suit individual preferences in terms of physical, psychological, environmental, and urge to achieve life-long goals in life. Arriving at a noteworthy decision concerning a certain career involves self-awareness, education, career exploration, and planning (Gibson & Mitchell 1995). One must have knowledge about attitudes, values, abilities, and various occupation choices to have a feasible exploration idea of forthcoming achievements. Enhancement of one’s knowledge is realised through virtuous guidance and counselling (Gibson & Mitchell 1995).
Education plays an important role in enhancing awareness, exploration, choosing, and planning of careers because it provides a deeper understanding of the relationships between the available opportunities in the field of work and self. Therefore, the choice of career goals is highly linked to education. Various studies have attested that the kind of education that individuals pursue can lead to either right or wrong career choices based on guidance and counselling provisions that are available at their learning institutions (Gibson & Mitchell 1995).
Theories that help in Choosing and Development of Careers
There are various theories that have been accepted as guides to choice of careers. Although numerous learning institutions have approved the career theories, they still have various flaws that render them ineffective. These theories include the trait and factor theory of career development, Holland theory of vocational types, self-concept or the development theory, and Krumboltz’s theory of social learning among others.
Trait and Factor Theory of Career Development
Parsons developed the trait and factor theory of career development in 1909 (Zunker 2006). This theory focuses on measurement of individual traits and factors that influence career development. Theoretically, trait is defined as a character of an individual that prevails within a given period. Sharf (2009) posits that trait is a quantifiable, consistent, and stable behaviour that can be used to predict and describe a person’s future manners. On the other hand, a factor refers to a collection of traits that have are correlated (Zunker 2006).
However, the trait and factor theory has various assumptions. At the outset, the theory holds that people have unique traits that comprise values, abilities, and personalities that can be used to identify the potential of an individual. Secondly, the theory assumes that an occupation is composed of factors that enhance its performance. These factors identify the profile of the occupation. Thirdly, it deduces that decision-making processes can be implemented by matching traits and job factors. Additionally, the theory deduces that the likelihood of maintaining outstanding performance is proportional to the individual’s personality.
On the other hand, Miller assumes that vocational development is a cognitive process. Furthermore, he assumes that occupation is a single event and people are more concerned about choice than development. Thirdly, Miller posits that only one occupation suits an individual; hence, no one can fit in several occupations. Furthermore, he assumes that there is only one-person-one-job relationship. Lastly, Miller claims that each person has an occupational choice (Walsh 1990).
According to Walsh (1990), Kein and Wiener have also put across various assumptions. Firstly, they claim that an individual has unique traits that can be measured reliably and validly. They also theorise that workers must have some unique traits to succeed in their occupation. In addition, they assume that the process of choosing an occupation involves a simple and matching process. Lastly, Kein and Weiner claim the probability of success and satisfaction depends on fitting of personal characters to job requirements.
However, the various assumptions have been used to bring about self-awareness, understanding of job requirement, and conditions for choosing a successful career. The theory is still relevant in the modern society since aptitude, personality, and interest assessments are used in General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB) and determination of occupational profiles. Therefore, there is a need to appreciate the theory’s ability to recognise standardised evaluation and analysis procedures that pertain to career development.
Limitation of the Trait and Factor Theory
The greatest limitation of the theory is based on its inability to provide a fitting correlation between workers and jobs (Walsh 1990). Its scope is too narrow to support decisions and knowledge about the broad areas that are considered in career development (Zunker 2006). This theory only focuses on personality factors; hence, it excludes environmental factors such as job availability and interpersonal factors in the process of choosing a career.
Holland Theory of Vocational Types
Holland theory of vocational types holds that behavioural and personality types influence career choices (Holland 1997). An analysis of this theory reveals various assumptions. At the outset, Holland (1997) assumes that occupation choice is a way of expressing personality. Secondly, the theory holds that individuals who coexist in the same occupational group have similar personalities. Thirdly, it deduces that individuals within a group always respond to problems in the same way. Furthermore, Holland (1997) claims that individuals are only interested in environments that foster development of skills, abilities, values, and expression of attitudes. Lastly, the Holland theory of vocational types deduces that the interactions between personalities and environments can influence behaviours (Holland 1997).
People’s achievements, satisfactions, and stabilities depend on equivalence of personality and job environment (Zunker 2006). Once people find that careers match with their personalities, they develop a tendency of sticking to their jobs. Zunker (2006) categorises individuals into six environmental modes
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This environmental mode appreciates the orientation of physical practices. Occupations of people who fall under this category include labouring, farming, construction, truck driving, and engineering among others. These people have confidence in performing their duties. They appreciate working with hands, machines, and tools; hence, they are practical. High traits that are possessed by these people include realism, masculinity, and stability while low traits that are identified include femininity and sensitivity among others (Holland 1997).
Investigative people are good in thinking and formulation of ideas. They possess incredible abilities to explore knowledge and approaches. However, they are not social and seem to appreciate individualism. Due to their individualistic nature, they are research analysts, surgeons, dieticians, dentists, computer analysts, lawyers, chemists, biologists, and programmers. Primarily, these individuals are scholarly, intellectual, and critical. Nonetheless, they are powerful, ambitious, and adventurous (Holland 1997).
According to Holland (1997), these individuals are innovative, original, and creative. Artistic individuals prefer unstructured situations and avoid interpersonal situations. They are mostly advertisers, fashion, graphic designers, photographers, interior designers, and journalists among others. Their high traits are expensiveness and creativeness while their low traits include orderliness, efficiency, conventionality, socialness, and masculinity (Holland 1997).
These people are outgoing and friendly. Social individuals understand easily and provide assistance in training sessions. However, they avoid technical skills, empathy, and relationships. Social individuals possess good interpersonal and communication skills. They enjoy interactive jobs. As a result, most of them are social workers, teachers, therapists, and sales representatives among others. Their high traits include cooperativeness, friendliness, and sense of humanity. Their low traits include ambitiousness and creativeness (Holland 1997).
According to Holland (1997), enterprising individuals are extroverts and have the ability to convince people to work on issues of their interest. These people also have great interpersonal skills that enable them to work with other people. They are verbally skilled and persuasive; hence, they dominate gatherings. Examples of their occupations include news anchors, radio presenters, managers, lawyers, and politicians. Their high traits include ambitiousness and adventurousness. Their low traits include intellectuality, creativeness, and femininity (Holland 1997).
Conventional individuals like teamwork, rules, routines, direct structures, self-control, respect, punctuality, and practicality. They do not necessarily assume leadership positions. Conventional personalities include bankers, accountants, librarians, administrative assistants, and cashiers among others. The Holland theory uses the hexagonal model to explain the interrelationships amongst these personalities and the environment. Their high traits include stability, efficiency, dependability, and self-control while their low traits include intellectuality, adventurousness, and creativity (Gottfredson 1999).
The Holland hexagonal model reveals that individual personalities that are close to one another are almost similar than those that are farther apart. The model is based on congruence, consistency, differentiation, and vocational identity. The main advantages are its ability to share similar ideas. It also promotes understanding of various work environments.
This theory is descriptive and focuses on casual basis of time in the development of hierarchical of personal styles. Holland was mainly concerned with factors that have direct influence on career. The theory does not take account of developmental processes that enable career choices (Zunker 2006). It places more emphasis on matching of personality with career rather than determining how environmental and interpersonal factors influence occupational goals. Therefore, it is unsuitable for dynamic career development researches.
Self-Concept/Development Theory by Donald Super
This theory supports self-perception rather than vocation (Santrock 2001). Perceptions have essential directions that determine one’s career. According to this theory, people chose jobs that are related to their interests, values, and strengths. However, these concepts can change due to factors such as time and age since people discover new things and ideas as they mature (Santrock 2001). Donald expresses that an individual must pass through six phases to develop a career (Watts 2001).
The first stage is growth (period from birth to 14 or 15 years old). During this phase, individuals learn more about themselves rather than their jobs. They develop a reality self-concept that lasts for a few years (usually between 14 and 15 years). They experience growth in aspects such as capacity, attitude, interest, and needs that are related with self-concepts. As their life progresses to mid-twenties, they start a second stage that is known as the exploration stage. At this phase, individuals tend to narrow their choices on career to develop behaviours that are geared towards a specific profession.
This process is easily identified in schools where students choose courses based on interests. However, such choices require knowledge about personal abilities and job accessibility. During the establishment phase (between 22 and 24 years), an individual enters the job market due to experience. The next phase is known as the maintenance stage where individuals make decisions on specific careers. Super describes these stages as the developmental task stages that hold one’s career interests against competitions in various ways that foster maintenance of job and improvement of quality (Watts 2001).
The last phase is the declining stage (65 and above years). Individuals at this category strive to develop their careers. Most people seek retirements to venture in other duties. Super believes that an earlier exploration of a career enhances self-concept. The stages of development in vocation are the bases of behaviour and attitude of individuals (Santrock 2001).
According to this theory, an individual’s concept is not static but changes through different life experiences and refines the concepts to suit particular job requirements. This situation gives an adaptation mechanism to career choices. The concept is more applicable to the younger people who are still experiencing different life scenarios at the early stages of their lives (Sharf 2009).
Advantages and Impacts of the Theory
At the outset, it identifies career development stages and set goals uniquely in various life stages. Secondly, it gives clarity of concepts because each task enhances maturity vocationally. In addition, it enables individuals to understand the relationship between knowledge and occupational data. It also presents individuals with many career choices that allow them to satisfy their interests (Coleman 1992).
Limitations of the Theory
This theory only focuses on prediction of universal laws and self-maintenance. In addition, it provides minimal information concerning adolescent confusion, stress, and identity crises (Coleman 1992). Moreover, it shows biasness and discrimination against women, the blacks, and the poor. This situation has raised concern about its validity (Zunker 2006).
Social Cognitive Theory
Bandura developed this theory in 1986. It is based on self-efficacy that controls thoughts, feelings, and actions. Self-efficacy influences an individual’s behaviour manipulation of coping traits, quantity of efforts, and time. Self-efficacy affects career choices that are related to behaviour. It also influences motivation and response. For instance, an individual with lower self-efficacy pays less attention to assigned tasks and can give up easily. High self-efficacy brings about positivity in terms of the individual’s thinking (Santrock 2001).
Santrock (2001) reveals that people with high self-efficacy can shape their destiny. It also elaborates on behaviour, environmental, and cognitive factors to foster understanding of career development (Santrock 2001). Bandura assumed a triangular mutual interaction of cognitive, behavioural, and environmental factors. Individual are unable to react to only one determinant. Instead, they create situations where they can perform best. A scenario that is created cognitively determines the probable environmental event (Ryckman 1997).
A consequence of an action enables individuals to shift to environments that suit their needs. This theory fails to recognise emotion as part of personality and does not expound on initial development of adult personality (Zimbardo & Weber 1994). People attain self-efficacy from personal performances, experience, persuasion, and emotions. Therefore, it enables cognitive regulation of motivation.
This theory fails to explain how behaviour is maintained. Instead, it focuses on the influence of the environment on initiated behaviour. What about behaviour that is inborn? To what extent do the factors influence behaviour and which factor is more influential? This theory does not show how biological, hormonal, and/or emotional influence behaviour (Zimbardo & Weber 1994).
Krumboltz’s Theory of Social Learning
This theory focuses on career decision-making alternatives. It borrows ideas and concepts of triadic reciprocal from Bandura’s theory (Krumboltz 2009). According to the theory, learning is an interaction between the environment and genetic endowment. It emphasises on the role of instrument and associative learning (Krumboltz 2009). This theory is based upon reinforcement and modelling concepts. This theory tries to address the following questions.
- Why people do certain jobs?
- Why do people change career after some time?
- Why do individuals develop interests in specific jobs in the course of their first career pursuits?
These questions are triggered by various factors. Firstly, hereditary benefactions together with other capabilities of an individual that are accrued from societal experiences have significant effects on occupational development. Secondly, environmental conditions and events influence an individual’s career decisions. Environmental factors include socio-cultural and political factors and natural resources (Krumboltz 2009).
Thirdly, learning experiences can lead to occupational choices. The main learning experiences that are identified by this theory are instrumental. They include stimulus, behaviour response, and consequences. Krumboltz’s theory of social learning also emphasises on associative learning that is attained through direct stimuli such as observation, reading, or hearing (Krumboltz 2009). Furthermore, this theory is based on acquired interactive experiences. Through interaction with other individuals and the learning environment, a people gain various mannerisms that influence their career choices
Cognition, beliefs, skills and actions enable an individual to learn new skills. Therefore, they affect aspirations and actions that guide the individual to choose a particular career (Krumboltz 2009). A self-observation generalisation to evaluate self-performance inculcates constant assessment of factors that influence career choices. They can also be used in worldview generalisation to predict certain careers (Krumboltz 2009). The application of this theory involves trends that require individuals to understand its concepts.
At the outset, an individual should seek expanding capabilities and interests by exploring new jobs to gain wide-ranging experiences. Secondly, individuals should prepare for the ever-changing work environments. This theory also encourages empowerment of individuals to take actions in an attempt to enhance experience and career development. Lastly, career choices guiders should also play a variety of roles that pertain to issues such as career change and obstacles that lead to achievement of career goals (Krumboltz 2009).
This theory has a little influence on the determination of career choices due to its inability to tackle the problem of dynamic economies. Shifting economic times have significantly influenced maintenance of jobs. Individuals change jobs to satisfy various interests. Krumboltz (2009) reveals that individuals who have low self-efficacy lose morale easily. Perhaps, this situation explains their failure (Krumboltz 2009).
Limitations of the Theory
This theory fails to tackle issues that surround job changes (Brown 1990). In addition, it overemphasises career choices. It excludes crucial adjustment processes that are needed in career development (Osipow & Fitzgerald 1996). Another weakness that is portrayed in theory is scarcity of information to validate its assumptions. Lastly, it is not applicable in guidance and counselling.
How do Theories of Career Choice Relate to Your Own Career Path? For instance, as a Pre-School Teacher
Holland Theory of Vocational Types
A recent assessment that was conducted to examine my personal straits revealed that I am an ambitious extrovert, critical thinker, cooperative, and outgoing character who likes teamwork and collective responsibility. The following list includes traits that were noted and their corresponding personality types.
- Team work – conventional
- Collective responsibility – conventional, social
- Extrovert – social
- Outgoing – social, enterprising
- Critical thinker – Investigative, social
- Ambitious – Enterprising
- Cooperative – Conventional
From the above personal types, it is outright that I am social, artistic, and enterprising. Since who have these personality types possess inherent ability to help, support, educate, train and proliferation of information, they are mostly social workers, counsellors, police officers, teachers, and/or therapists. The personality patterns that were established included high SE, EC, medium SI, CS, IC, and low EI. However, the personality traits fell under the medium level after examination.
Therefore, the theory indicates that a dominating medium trait is developed through progressive study of traits. Social, investigative, and conventional traits have similarities. As a result, it can be concluded that my career suits that of a teacher or a psychological therapist.
Trait and Factor Theory of Career Development
Assessing the likes, dislikes, and abilities of occupation requirements in relation to trait and factor model table (see appendix I) shows a closer link between my academic performance, job satisfaction, choice of stability, and personality. There is also a close relationship between congruence and personality. Therefore, a higher degree of validity in relation to matching my traits and job career is evident. With reference to Myers Briggs (interviewee) indicator, the behaviours that were portrayed included trying to escape from decisions, urge for being flexible, and nervousness during the interview (Bayne 1997).
In addition, type S behaviour was identified. This identification was due to the following factors that were observed as strengths. These factors included being observance in terms of picking finer details, honesty, pragmatic, and realistic when counselling. Wilful provision of assistance to individuals to choose better practical action plans was also evident. The skills that the interviewer put into practice at all times included addressing every situation at hand, thinking critically, brainstorming, and use of hunches (Bayne 1997).
Self-Concept Theory by Donald Super
A reflection of my career path has taken different directions gradually right from the initial stages of life. During the growth stages where the urge of possessing many assets lingered in my dream needs and craving for being a self-reliance individual who dominates in all aspects. This situation did not last longer. After a sense of continued hard work in endeavours to achieve, whatever I needed cropped in my dream. This situation majorly centred on the person I needed to be. I have ever wanted to become a teacher. Therefore, I already had in mind what was required to pursue a teaching career and hard work was of essence.
In my mid-20s, I had attained the required teaching qualifications. However, due to the unpredictability and inadequacy of the market available, I was employed as a preschool tutor. Currently, I am still in progress and aspire to shift my career to a more specific occupation as a therapist rather than just mere preschool teacher. My father who was a lecturer majorly influenced my career path owing to mentorship that I benefited from his work environment (Santrock 2001).
Sociological Perspectives in Relation to Structural and Cognitive Models
Much of my career development was not influenced by gender rather was greatly determined by factors such as family, school, environment, and job opportunity as evidenced by the tabulated statements and questions (see appendix 2). From the information obtained in the table concerning likes, dislikes, and abilities of acquiring job opportunity, most of the results were from scores of fives and fours on extrinsic factors, fours in intrinsic factors and twos in problems encountered. I can conclude that this evaluation was upon my decision to choose the best of my feelings. There was a higher degree of similarity between the teaching job and my traits in terms of likes, dislikes, and abilities. Therefore, such factors have largely contributed to the steps to develop my career path.
This essay has provided an evaluation of the various traditional theories of career choice and guidance practice. Various critical analyses of their relevance in choosing a career path have revealed that many people are in pursuit of seeking jobs that suit their interests. Indeed, the various postulates of the career choice theories have significantly influenced the behaviours of individual on aspects such as trait matches and abilities. An improvement of confidence in every stage of development enables people to learn and grow satisfactorily throughout their lives.
This situation is majorly contributed by career theories. Although these theories have some impacts on career life, it is important to note that a change of career is gradually depicted in the current world of work where many jobs require combinations of skills. Therefore, individuals need not to concentrate in a specific field due to an assumption that has been advanced by a career choice theory that supports his motives. Through of such theories, an individual must remain in a better position to acquire more skills to respond to the ever changing and dynamic fields of career in today’s job markets.
Bayne, R 1997, The Myers Briggs Type Indicator Cheltenham, Stanley, Thorne.
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Holland, J 1997, Making Vocational Choices: A Theory of Vocational Personalities and Work Environments, Odessa, FL, Psychological Assessment Resources.
Krumboltz, J 2009, ‘The Happenstance Learning Theory’, Journal of Career Assessment, vol. 17 no. 2, pp. 135-54.
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Assessing the likes, dislikes and abilities of job requirements as per my career path with regard to Trait and Factor model Table
|Factors that influence my choice of career||Very great extent (5)||Great extent (4)||Moderate extent |
|Minimal extent (2)||No extent (1)|
|The job accessible.||5|
|Promotion is evitable in the company.||5|
|Lucrative incentives like salaries enabled me to make my choice.||1|
|Working conditions are favourable.||4|
|The company provides training courses to employees.||5|
|There is stability for job security and future development.||4|
|Improvement of social status.||3|
|I was influenced by my parents towards my choice.||4|
|I chose the career because my peers did the same.||1|
|My lecturer convinced me to choose the career.||4|
|I was influenced by an advertisement concerning the career.||4|
|Problems encountered while choosing a career.||Very serious problem (5)||Serious problem (4)||Moderately serious problem (3)||Minimal problem (2)||No problem (1)|
|Difficulty in getting good counsellors.||4|
|Inadequate funds for farther training||3|
|No skills in marketing skills||1|
|Biasness and discrimination for job opportunity||2|
|Increase of unemployment||2|
|Lack of information concerning jobs||3|
|Confusion while matching fitting jobs against interests and abilities||1|
|The Preferences and clients’ probable behaviour during counselling|
|Clients who prefer:||Tend to:|
|Extraversion||Wants a more active counsellor, less comfortable with reflection, optimistic and energetic|
|Introversion||Be more at ease with silence, be less comfortable with action, be less enthusiastic about counselling|
|Sensing||Be concrete and detailed, go step, like a practical approach, not see many options, be uncomfortable with novelty|
|Intuition||Give broad pictures, jump around from topic to topic, see unrealistic options, overlook facts, like novelty and imaginative approaches|
|Thinking||Avoid emotions, feelings and values in early sessions, need rationales and logic, be critical and skeptical, want to be admired,|
|Feelings||Focus on values and networks of values, need to care, a good client, want to be appreciated|
|Judging||Fear losing control, find change stressful, need structure, need to achieve, work hard and tolerate discomfort|
|Perceiving||Avoid decisions, need flexibility, avoid discomfort|
|The Preferences and aspects of counselling practice|
|Type||Strengths||Likely skills to use more and aspects to work on|
|E||Helping the client to explore a wide range of issues, easy initial contact, thinking ‘on feet’||Paraphrasing more, using silence, helping clients explore issues in sufficient depth, reaching the action stage too early|
|I||Helping the client explore a few issues in depth, reflecting on strategies, using silence||Paraphrasing more, helping the client explore all relevant issues, ease of initial contact|
|S||Observation details, realistic, helping client decide on practical action plan||Taking the overall picture into account, brainstorming, using hunches|
|N||Seeing the overall picture, brainstorming, using hunches||Being specific, testing hunches, helping client to decide on practical actions|
|T||Being objective, challenging||Picking up feelings, being empathic, being warmer, challenging too early|
|F||Being warm, empathic||Taking thoughts into account as well as feelings, coping with conflict and negative emotions, being more objective, challenging|
|J||Being organised, decisive||Helping client to make decisions (but not prematurely), flexible.|
|P||Being spontaneous, flexible||Being organised like time conscious, structure the session, helping clients to make decisions|