Each client I meet has a unique story and a unique body of experiences. Their motivation to seek out career counseling often stems from deeply existential (personal) reflection. When clients contact me, I hear comments like the following: “I want more fulfilling work”, “I want meaningful work”, “I feel overwhelmed”, “I do not know what I am interested in or what I want to do”, “I feel lost at work”, “I want a new career path that matches who I am, what I have experienced and the skills I have”, ‘I want to feel passionate about my work”, “I want to feel more confident in who I am”, “I want to do something that I have chosen for myself”, “I want to feel that I am of value”. Underlying these statements are very real, very human searches for authentic living and self-expression. We want to feel relevant. We want to feel a sense of purpose. We want to experience our lives as meaningful. We want to be fully present and engaged in our lives.
When such reflections and experiences are at the foundation of a client’s request for services, they can profoundly influence the direction, outcome and value of career counseling for that particular client. These deeper existential questions deserve attention and exploration. As a counselor we do great service to our clients when we honor a client’s unique story and experiences. In doing so, we can better understand the specific contexts a client has experienced and currently lives within.
Through exploratory dialogue, we can provide the time and space for clients to examine these existence questions. We can explore, for example, how a client defines fulfilling work, how they assign meaning and value to personal experiences, how they have experienced work, and how those experiences have added to their expertise. These existential conversations reveal not only a client’s rich, contextual story, they also equip a client with perspective, deeper awareness of their attitudes, behaviors, feelings and potential. Clients better understand their innate capacities and gain a renewed confidence in their unique skills, value and resilience. The content of these conversations offers substantive and tangible material that illuminates what is possible and what concrete actions can be taken in the immediate that are appropriate and of value. The content of these explorations provides a client with a foundation from which they can make decisions and with which both client and counselor can collaboratively map out personally meaningful steps forward. This process is both personally relevant and practical. It merges the human capacity for reflection and awareness with concrete results that are grounded in the present. For clients, the outcome(s) are infused with personal meaning and motivation. They recognize the outcome(s) as their own, empowered by personal decisions and choices. The outcome(s) are qualitative and they are sustainable.