Informational interviews can be great tools for your clients or students (and you) to use to explore potential career options. For this discussion, summarize your informational interview so your peers can learn from your research. Include the specialization of the person interviewed and summarize the responses to the following questions:
In your post, please also include any additional, relevant information or insights you gained from your interview.
Respond to the posts of at least two of your peers and provide feedback. Compare and contrast their interviews from your interview in the approach to integrating career counseling into their practices. You must respond to at least one peer from a different specialization.
First peer posting
Who was interviewed?
I interviewed Melissa Edelmayer. She is a licensed independent social worker. In Ohio, social workers are eligible to practice counseling with the proper training and education. I have known Mrs. Edelmayer for approximately 9 years. She currently works at a private practice agency called Providers for Healthy Living. She specializes in mental health counseling with juveniles with training in CBT, Motivational Interviewing, and I-FAST where she has addressed substance abuse disorders, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety disorders, and family dysfunction
As stated above, she currently works in private practice. Prior to her joining a private practice agency almost two years ago, she worked in a myriad of positions in non-profit mental health organizations ranging from Clinician to Director of Residential Care. Her experiences in residential have greatly influenced her career development and decision to join private practice. With larger agencies, there exist a larger bureaucracy that controls the direction of clinical practice. Mrs. Edelmayer stated that she has been appreciative of the experiences she received in these environments; however, she required some additional freedoms that allow her to spread her “clinical wings” into a new area.
Mrs. Edelmayer stated that she has not solely focused on integrating career counseling into her practices as most of her clients tend to be youth and are afflicted with mental health and behavioral issues; however, she admits that there is some career counseling involved with many of her juvenile clients especially towards the middle of her treatments. Mrs. Edelmayer stated that this is useful in planning as career (or in the case of many of her clients, education) goals tend to be universal in many settings and situations throughout the lifespan process.
Mrs. Edelmayer states that she is extensively trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Because of this, she has utilized it in ways that implement career counseling objectives and goals. Because CBT is rooted in the theory that cognitive processes (which includes feelings and beliefs) determine behaviors, it makes sense that irrational or miscommunicated feelings and beliefs can lead to incorrect behaviors. Especially when working with youth, it can be a matter of challenging these feelings and beliefs in an attempt to change the behaviors so they can be more congruent to accepted societal norms. With career counseling, it can provide hope to break cycles of poor behaviors.
Mrs. Edelmayer was asked specifically about career inventories. She stated that for her older adolescent clientele (and more), she uses the Career Thoughts Inventory. She stated that this has been especially useful in helping her clients help make decisions about which direction to take with their careers and appropriately integrated into her mental health sessions to work towards having unifying goals. She is able to streamline her services with their wants and needs.
Mrs. Edelmayer describes working with people of all different backgrounds including variations in race/ethnicity, cultural identity, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ableism, and socioeconomic status. She also acknowledges that her own unique cultural background has made her much more aware of how these different roles intersect for people of all backgrounds.
Mrs. Edelmayer states that this is not necessarily the focus of her role since her clientele is largely juveniles with mental health concerns; however, with her partners, the topic is discussed during their supervision and consultation.
Mrs. Edelmayer states that with her being in the field so long, it is always nice to see former clients who were on the brink of despair return from that place and lead happy, healthy lives in the best way they define it. The greatest challenges have been losing clients to death for circumstances that have been outside of her care.
Mrs. Edelmayer re-emphasized her above statements by saying that it does not have to be particularly challenging to add career counseling goals into mental health treatment. She stated that if clinicians look at the totality of the client, it only makes sense for career counseling goals to be integrated into the clinical sessions.
Because I have worked with Mrs. Edelmayer in the past, I have already had a decent amount of these conversations with her. With this particular interview, I was better able to understand how to implement career counseling by using CBT as I, too, have novice experience with it. We also discussed how using Motivational Interviewing in conjunction with our clients who have a substance abuse issue could benefit from these conversations; however, we both agreed that it is best to address the substance abuse issue first before discussing career goals.
Second peer posting
Erick Rask, a licensed mental health counselor, was interviewed on 11/22/16 for this discussion post. He currently functions as the mental health specialist for the Show Low Unified School District in Show Low, Arizona. Erick integrates career counseling into his practice by teaching and promoting life skills such as organization, time management, interpersonal skills, communication, anger management, problem solving, productivity, punctuality, attendance, attention to task, etc. into his work with children and adolescents. This method of integrating career services aligns with Gysbers (2013) student career readiness skills of personal qualities, diversity skills, social competence, positive work habits, personality, and entrepreneurship. The thought process is that career skills are not simply a class that seniors in high school sign up for; career skills begin to develop early in life as parents and educators plant the seeds for positive social, emotional, and vocational development. By creating a foundation of prevocational skills in elementary and junior high school, high school students and recent graduates are better able to focus on the planning and transitional activities associated with career readiness and development.
Career Counseling Models, Assessments, and Strategies
The person-environment-fit model is incorporated into the current mental health practice when providing career related services. Erick reviews a student’s file, evaluations, and diagnosis, and conducts additional assessment and interviews as needed. In cooperation with the student, careers are researched based on a match between their presenting information and the environment. The person-environment-fit aligns individual interests, abilities, and values to work environments that are most conducive to their well-being and productivity (Zunker, 2016). For example, a client with high social anxiety will likely do poorly in a direct store sales position and may be better suited to internet sales with less direct customer contact. The Arizona Career Information System (AzCIS) is utilized to provide comprehensive educational and career guidance to students at the Show Low District. The system is easy to use and readily accessible on line providing interest and values inventories, occupational and post-secondary educational databases, and job search tools. The tools provided with this system aid counselors in program planning, organization, implementation, administration, and evaluation of effective and comprehensive career development.
Erick also incorporates components of social learning, cognitive information processing, and happenstance theory into his career approaches. From a social learning perspective, he takes into consideration the abilities and disabilities of each student along with the environmental conditions that combine to influence their current behavior and choices. He also considers career choice to be a result of the interaction between information learned and the associated feeling that ultimately results in a problem solving activity (Zunker, 2016). Erick also encourages his students to volunteer, job shadow, and even interview people who are active in the field they are considering. This experiential and active approach is reminiscent of happenstance theory, which suggests that unpredictable life events have the potential to influence and shape individual career trajectory (Zunker, 2016). By getting his students active and involved in the community, they are more likely to meet new people and gain new experiences that will benefit them in the long run.
Erick works mainly with students of Caucasian, Hispanic, and Native American decent. He considers culture to be extremely important in career planning, and advises counselors new to the field to be especially sensitive to this issue in particular. For example, the Hispanic population is a very family oriented culture, and career development will likely actively involve the parents and even other extended family members. The opinion and approval of family members will be very important to a Hispanic client. Caucasian students, on the other hand, are more likely to be independent in their career making decisions after having talked it over with their parents outside of counseling. Career development for Native American students also has a very different course, especially with limited occupational opportunities on the reservation. Additional considerations with careers for Native Americans include the high value that they place on rituals around death and transition and the low value that they place on punctuality and overall time management. Therefore, jobs with high flexibility for attendance may be more attractive to students of Native American decent. Again, Erick’s best advice for future career counselors is to be very aware of how the unique culture of each client plays into their worldview, especially their view of career development.
Rewards and Challenges
Erick described some challenges to this work as keeping current on job markets and trends, helping clients to narrow down career choices, and making sure students with academic and mental health challenges graduate with the foundational skills necessary to secure gainful employment. Some of the rewards that Erick identified included successfully preparing clients for and assisting them in job placement, as well as helping them to pinpoint potential career choices in order to narrow down their post-secondary training or education course.
Knowledge Gained from Interview
Knowledge gained from this interview will assist the future counselor in several ways. First, cultural diversity will be considered a high priority for all clients, especially clients from marginal populations. Different cultures have different norms and expectations around career development, and these will be important to consider in planning. Second, it will be helpful to utilize a comprehensive career development program such as the AzCIS. Even though certain aspects of this program may not be relevant to each client served, knowing they are readily available in a complete internet based program is helpful. Finally, the importance of getting career minded individuals active in the community through job shadow and volunteer opportunities cannot be overstated. Not only is serving with a purpose important for overall mental health, it benefits the community and keeps the individual active and more likely to run into potential career opportunities.
Gysbers, N. C. (2013). Career-ready students: A goal of comprehensive school counseling programs. Career Development Quarterly, 61(3), 283-288. doi:10.1002/j.2161-0045.2013.00057.x
Zunker, V. G. (2016). Career counseling: A holistic approach (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. ISBN 9781305087286.
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