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- Whiston, S.C. & Rossier, J. Int J Educ Vocat Guidance (2017) 17: 1. doi:10.1007/s10775-017-9340-7
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Change is an inherent part of the human condition, but when it comes to career development change may not occur always naturally or productively. Also, changing within career development has become more complex as the world of work has become less predictable and challenging. Thus, people use different coping or adaptive resources to manage their careers and adjust to an ever-changing work environment. Vocational guidance and career counseling interventions are designed to assist people in making career choices, to manage professional transitions, but also to increase the resources to do so. Hence, career counseling is also about inducing change. Having to adapt and to change can in some circumstances lead to dramatic social situations but in some other circumstances change can be seen as the ability to take advantage of these circumstances. For this reason, it is important to consider that a change and its outcomes does not only depend on a person but also on his complex social, economical, and political environment.
Vocational guidance or career counseling is also somehow about inducing changes by helping to make vocational choices, to plan careers, or to prepare for retirement. Changes career counseling induce can obviously have an impact on this person’s future career trajectory. However, career counseling also has an impact on the way people understand their past trajectory, on their self-concept, and how they conceive their future. Overall, career counseling should allow individuals to link their accomplishments, actual situations, and plans (their intentionality). Career interventions can induce an evolution of clients’ identities, self-concepts, goals, and plans. Career interventions may thus influence a large range of different factors with some being well documented and others needing additional research. Moreover, if career counseling is about inducing change, this concept of changes has not been extensively considered in the vocational guidance and career counseling literature. For this reason, the themes of this special issue of the International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance is change related to work and career. For this special issue we define change very broadly and the six articles in this issue address change from a wide variety of perspectives (e.g., models of change, measures of change, and change as a result of intervention).
Bowles and Brindle (2017) argue that when considering adolescents’ development of career commitment that it be situated within the context of the individual’s career identity and emerging adult identity. One method of developing an understanding of career identity is by prompting adolescents to work through a structured change process such as the Adaptive Change Model (ACM; Bowles, 2006). Career counsellors can support adolescents’ movement towards career commitment by assisting them through the five stages of change: openness to opportunity, visualization, planning, action, and closure. In addition, the ACM has three support factors that were envisioned to support one or more of the change factors. These three support factors are social support, inner drive, and managing of negative emotions. The ACM also includes adaptive change profiles (i.e., stabilizers, adaptors, and innovators) that can be used to understand and facilitate the change process. The ACM provides career counselors with a model for identifying where adolescents are in the process of moving toward career commitment and a model for intervening that will facilitate the change process.
In an interesting study by Yang, Yaugn, Noh, Jang, and Lee (2017), they examined the change in the plan happenstance skills of curiosity, flexibility, persistence, optimism, and risk-taking of Korean college students as they transitioned from school-to-work. These researchers found that over a two year period, all the planned happenstance skills except risk-taking decreased. They also examined how the career-related variables of career engagement, career decision-making self-efficacy, career aspiration, and career barriers were associated with the initial and change rates of planned happenstance skills with some interesting findings in this realm. They also found that the trajectories of curiosity and persistence varied according to the degree of career aspiration, career decision-making self-efficacy, and career barriers. For readers interested in the career changes that occurs as college students’ transition from school-to-work, this study provides some pertinent findings.
In considering client change in psychotherapy, a major influence has been the Transtheoretical Model of Change that includes the six stages of change that make up the Stages of Change model. In this model, the clinician gears the interventions toward the stage of change of the client (e.g., precontemplation, contemplation). Hammond, Michael, and Luke (2017) adapt the most commonly used measure of change in psychotherapy research and practice, the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment, to assess career clients. The factor structure of this new measure called the Stage of Change-Career Development is analyzed and the authors find the best fit is for a five factor instrument that is comprised of 15 items. Although there are some psychometric limitations with this measure, Hammond et al. efforts to develop a measure in which a career counselor could assess the client’s stage of change is worthwhile.
In order to examine whether career change does occur as a result of intervention, the field needs sound vocational measures that are sensitive to real change. Rottinghaus et al. (2017) proposed that an appropriate instrument would be the Career Future Inventory-Revised (CFI-R, Rottinghaus, Buelow, Matyja, & Schneider, 2012), which measures agency and other dimensions of career adaptability. These researchers first conducted a confirmatory factor analysis of the CFI-R using actual clients from a career counseling center at a large university. After allowing the error variance of two items to correlated, the confirmatory factor analysis showed a good fit and all items loaded on the appropriate factors of Career Agency, Occupational Awareness, Support, Work-life Balance, and Negative Career Outlook. In Part 2 of this study, the authors also examined whether the subscales scores of the CFI-R varied between the intake (Time 1) and the end of the career counseling (Time 2). These researchers found that scores on Career Agency, Occupational Awareness, Support, Work-life Balance significantly increased; whereas, scores on Negative Career Outlook significantly decreased. These results support the use of the CFI-R as a measure of change in career counseling, career classes, and other career interventions.
Ginevra, Di Maggio, Nota, and Soresi (2017) studied whether change occurred as a result of a group-based career intervention grounded in life design principles. The participants in this study were at-risk young Italian adults with a large percentage of the experimental group being comprised of immigrants from Eastern Europe, North Africa, and South America. The life design interventions focused on reflectivity, narratability, and on identifying strengths. The researchers in this study evaluated the effectiveness of the intervention in a number of ways (i.e., statistical significance. clinical significance, and social validity). The authors found both statistical and clinical significance for the experimental group. Furthermore, an overall satisfaction with and perceived utility of the career intervention was reported by participants.
In a last article, Perry and Shannon (2017) make the argument that vocational psychologists have not sufficiently measured change in the complex world of education. To conduct such research, they propose the framework of community-based participation action research. Second, they illustrate the challenges and opportunities of conducting such “real world” research by evaluating three services provided by an after-school program for Hispanic youth in the United States. In doing so, they explain the historical background and contextual processes which led to this impressive evaluation study that involved propensity score matching procedures and multilevel modeling. They found that one program that involved career interventions along with other types of services impacted important educational outcomes. In the third section of the article, the authors discuss the organization’s actions after completing the study, and offer advice on conducting such studies and advancing vocational psychology’s involvement in identifying the ingredients of change.
We hope that you will find the six articles in this issue stimulating and insightful. This topic certainly needs more research and we hope that this series of articles will stimulate your own thought to design new studies in this area. When we speak about intentionality, we think about the process allowing people to give sense to their paths, identities, and projects. The dynamical nature of our lives necessarily implies change, and the study of change will perhaps make it possible to identify how this change can sustain the development of our intentionality. Change must not only be studied at the level of the individual. Changes of the environment are also crucial. Evidently the change of the individual and his environment co-evolves. Understanding this co-evolution is crucial if we want to help people make “wise” career choices or to help them to make vocational or career choices that are meaningful for them. All of the articles of this special issue examine change related to work and career from different perspectives that add to our overall understanding of the mechanisms and advantages of career change. Thank you for your interest in change and we hope this special issue contributes to your professional development.