An Existential Coaching Perspective on Work and Career Development

  • Integrative Career Counseling: Working Contextually and Experientially

    08/25/2019

    A holistic and contextual approach to career transitions and career development

    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.

    For more information on how an integrative and existential approach to career counseling can help you successfully navigate a career transition or develop a resilient and meaningful career path please contact Britt-Mari at brittmari@brittmarisykes.ca

  • Can You Help Me Identify My Skill Set?

    08/25/2019

    This is a very common question clients ask at the outset whether they are young students beginning a process of career development or individuals navigating career transition. We often identify skills with the learned skills of a specific job or profession. Learned skills are, however, only one small part of the equation. Understanding how we work and being able to articulate our evolving personal skills is increasingly crucial.

    While some of our learned skills are transferable, the real skill lies in identifying, describing and putting into action your personal and unique skill set. It is literally a different skill! To limit our expertise, talents and capacities to the narrow lens of the learned skills of a specific job, role or task puts the emphasis on functional requirements and omits personal engagement. We leave out our innate skills, our active engagement in and with the job, our personal growth, our contribution, what we learned from our experiences or the overall meaning and value a job or role had for us. We leave out how we work and how we bring our work and our roles to life.

    What we want in our careers - the search for a more natural fit

    What I increasingly see and hear with my clients is a strong personal desire to find a career path that feels like a natural fit. We want this natural fit to be a recognizable congruence of who we are, what we are interested in, and what we value. We want careers, professions or jobs that motivate and engage us but also ones where we feel our innate talents and our unique potential are actively incorporated into what we are doing. We want careers that make use of our unique skills, experiences, personality, capabilities, education, accumulated expertise, to name but a few. We also want to continue to expand our talents and potential, to feel a sense of mastery and fulfillment in what we do and ultimately to make a contribution. Once the term skill set is defined as encompassing all these ingredients, most people have difficulty in identifying and mapping out what their natural fit might be.

    Reflective questions to help you identify your innate skills and talents

    Here are a few examples of questions to ask yourself. If you are just starting and developing a career path, these questions can be asked of any experiences you have had. If you are in the process of career transition, these questions can be asked of jobs and positions you have held:

    • What did I learn and experience in that role/job/task?
    • Can I describe some of my personal skills?
    • Which of these personal skills were most prominent in a specific role, job, task?
    • In what ways did I grow personally and professionally?
    • What did I learn about the organization, the job or the particular profession?
    • What new perspectives did I gain about the job market? What new perspectives did I learn about myself?
    • What did I enjoy and why? What kind of experience was this for me?
    • What was personally meaningful about the job, the experience?
    • What was challenging for me and why?
    • What did I personally bring to the role? How do I work? How did I bring the job, role to life?
    • What personal contributions did I make?
    • What expertise, skills, or perspectives - further developed - could I carry forward into my next role/job?

    Reflecting on such questions helps us practice being aware of ourselves in our work. This is different from viewing ourselves objectively in terms of the function of the job. Such a functional perspective provides only limited information and keeps us at arms-length from developing an active and practiced awareness of how we experience a job day to day, how we experience ourselves in a job day to day, how we relate to our colleagues and to the work itself, how we adapt, learn and grow. A broader reflective practice offers access not only to a living and expanding personal skill set, but also keeps us actively engaged in our own career development.

    A narrative and experiential approach to creating CV's and professional profiles

    Each of us has a unique story to tell. Each of us posseses unique talents that continue to emerge as we experience and engage in life. Each of us has unique ways of weaving together our accumulated experiences. Each of us breathes life into what we do in unique and different ways. Recognizing these very personal ways of being, learning to articulate them confidently both verbally and in written form (profiles, CV’s, Bio’s) and networking your story are fundamental to accessing the natural fit you strive for. Understanding who you are and the unique value you bring to a given profession or job transforms a sought after ideal into a tangible reality.

    I offer a 3 session coaching package specifically designed to help clients create a more experiential and resilient CV and/or professional profile. For more information please contact me at brittmari@brittmarisykes.ca