Integrative Career Counseling: Working Contextually and Experientially

01/16/2018

In my practice, integrative career counseling is a hybrid of personal (existential) and career counseling. It is an approach to career counseling that takes into consideration the whole person. This includes considering an individual’s varied experiences and the influence and impact those experiences have had, and continue to have, on how an individual navigates, shapes and contributes to their life and work. An integrative approach takes into account a client’s values, it respects and highlights an individual’s unique way of being, personal expertise and capacities. An integrative approach looks at concurrent and overlapping issues that may impede or influence the direction and progress of a client’s desired outcome for career development or career change.

Many of my clients are often facing significant life and/or career transitions that impact their daily lives. These can range from marital breakdown, illness, family caregiving to periods of unemployment and retirement. I see clients who are experiencing burnout, clients who desire more fulfillment, purpose, engagement and personal development from their careers. I work with young adults who are anxious about the road ahead following high school, College or University. Life and career transitions can be experienced as exhilarating or as unwanted and highly stressful, and sometimes they are a combination of all three. Such times may allow for reflection and re-assessment, resulting in new career directions. They may be emotionally challenging periods coupled with personal and financial stress. They may be confusing periods that raise deeper existential questions of purpose, meaning and what it is to live a fulfilled life. Transitions can be enormously valuable and lead to positive growth and development. The process, pace and outcomes are individually unique.

Addressing the whole person, working with the multi-layered and specific contexts that are the reality of our lives, provides a more substantive, authentic and personalized foundation from which to help clients work through transitions. Working with a client’s whole experience provides a rich life story from which to encourage further awareness, perspective, possibility and resilience. Working with a client’s specific contexts and personal resources provides the ingredients for creating and mapping out meaningful and relevant steps forward.