Interdisciplinarity in vocational guidance: an action theory perspective

  • Ladislav ValachEmail author
  • Richard A. Young


In addressing the issue of interdisciplinary research in vocational guidance, twelve propositions important for understanding the vocational guidance process as joint, goal-directed action are presented. They address the encounter between client and counsellor leading to relational ethics, the relevance of everyday action theory and methods for the analysis of goal-directed processes as joint actions, projects, and careers. Research on the school-to-work transition illustrates this conceptualisation and analysis. Links to other disciplines concerned with vocational guidance are identified.


Vocational guidance School-work transition Action theory 


Interdisciplinarité en orientation professionnelle: la perspective de la théorie de l’action. En abordant la question de la recherche interdisciplinaire en orientation professionnelle, on présente douze propositions importantes pour comprendre le processus d’orientation professionnelle comme action conjointe dirigée vers un but. Elles concernent la rencontre entre le client et le conseiller menant à une éthique de la relation, la pertinence de la théorie de l’action quotidienne et les méthodes pour l’analyse des processus dirigés vers un but comme actions, projets et carrières en liaison les uns avec les autres. La recherche sur la transition école-travail illustre cette conceptualisation et cette analyse. Des liens avec d’autres disciplines concernées par l’orientation professionnelle sont identifiés.


Interdisziplinarität in der Beruflichen Beratung: Ein Entwurf einer Aktionstheorie. Das Thema der interdisziplinären Forschung in der Berufsberatung ansprechend, werden zwölf grundlegende Aussagen vorgestellt, die bedeutsam für das Verständnis des Berufsberatungsprozesses als eines gemeinsamen, zielgerichteten Handelns sind. Angesprochen wird die Begegnung von Klient und Berater, was zu Fragen der relationalen Ethik dieser Beziehung führt, sowie die Relevanz der Handlungstheorie und ihrer Methoden für die Analyse von zielorientierten Prozessen als gemeinsame Handlungen, Projekte und Laufbahnen. Untersuchungen zum Übergang Schule-Beruf illustrieren diese Konzeptualisierung und Analyse. Schnittstellen zu anderen Fachbereichen, die mit Berufsberatung befasst sind, werden aufgezeigt.


Interdisciplinariedad en la Orientación Vocacional: una perspectiva desde la Teoría de la Acción. Al abordar el tema de la investigación interdisciplinar en la orientación vocacional, se presentan doce proposiciones importantes para entender el proceso de la orientación vocacional desde la acción conjunta y orientada a las metas. Estas abarcan el encuentro entre cliente y orientando que lleva a la ética de las relaciones, la relevancia de una teoría de la acción cotidiana y de los métodos para el análisis de procesos dirigidos como acciones conjuntas, proyectos y carreras. Se ejemplifica esta conceptualización y análisis a través de investigaciones sobre la transición escuela-trabajo. Se identifican asimismo los vínculos con otras disciplinas relacionadas con la orientación vocacional.


  1. Ashworth, P. (2003). An approach to phenomenological psychology: The contingencies of the lifeworld. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 34(6), 145–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berger, P. L., & Luckman, T. (1979). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  3. Blustein, D. L. (2001). The interface of work and relationships: Critical knowledge for 21st century psychology. The Counseling Psychologist, 29, 179–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blustein, D. L. (2006). The psychology of working. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  5. Blustein, D. L., Chaves, A. P., Diemer, M. A., Gallagher, L. A., Marshall, K. G., Sirin, S., et al. (2002). Voices of the forgotten half: The role of social class in the school-to-work transition. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 49, 311–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blustein, D. L., Schultheiss, D., & Flum, H. (2004). Toward a relational perspective of the psychology of careers and working: A social constructionist analysis. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64, 423–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boszormenyi-Nagy, I. (1987). Foundations of contextual therapy: Collected papers of Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, MD. New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, D. (2000). Theory and the school-to-work transition: Are the recommendations suitable for cultural minorities? The Career Development Quarterly, 48, 370–375.Google Scholar
  9. Bynner, J., & Parsons, S. (2002). Social exclusion and the transition from school to work: The case of young people not in education, employment, or training. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 60, 289–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carruthers, P., & Smith, P. K. (Eds.). (1996). Theories of theories of mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Chartrand, J. M. (1991). The evolution of trait-and-factor career counselling: The person x environment fit approach. Journal of Counseling and Development, 69, 518–524.Google Scholar
  12. Checkland, P., & Holwell, S. (1998). Action research: Its nature and validity. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 11(1), 9–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cottone, R. R. (2004). Displacing the psychology of the individual in ethical decision-making: The social constructivism model. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 38, 5–13.Google Scholar
  14. Cottone, R. R. (2007). Paradigms of counseling and psychotherapy, revisited: Is social constructivism a paradigm? Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 29, 189–203.Google Scholar
  15. Fisher, C. D. (2006). Paper Three: Relational Ethics and Research with Vulnerable Populations. Retrieved August 22, 2008, from Online Ethics Center for Engineering, National Academy of Engineering at
  16. Gergen, K. J. (1994). Realities and relationships. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Heider, F. (1958). The naive analysis of action. In F. Heider (Ed.), The psychology of interpersonal relations (pp. 101–124). New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Herr, E. L. (1999). Theoretical perspectives on the school-to-work transition: Reactions and recommendations. Career Development Quarterly, 47, 359–364.Google Scholar
  19. Holland, J. L. (1996). Integrating career theory and practice. The current situation and some potential remedies. In M. L. Savickas & W. B. Walsh (Eds.), Handbook of career counseling: Theory and practice (pp. 1–11). Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.Google Scholar
  20. Krumboltz, J. D., & Worthington, R. L. (1999). The school-to-work transition from a learning theory perspective. Career Development Quarterly, 47, 312–325.Google Scholar
  21. Lent, R. W., Hackett, G., & Brown, S. D. (1999). A social cognitive view of school-to-work transition. Career Development Quarterly, 47, 297–311.Google Scholar
  22. Mills, J. (2005). A critique of relational psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 22, 155–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Moscovici, S. (1981). On social representations. In J. P. Forgas (Ed.), Social cognition (pp. 181–209). London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  24. Newtson, D., & Enquist, G. (1976). The perceptual organization of ongoing behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 12, 436–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Polkinghorne, D. E. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  26. Savickas, M. L. (1999). The transition from school-to-work: A developmental perspective. Career Development Quarterly, 47, 326–337.Google Scholar
  27. Schultheiss, D. (2003). A relational approach to career counseling: Theoretical integration and practical application. Journal of Counseling and Development, 81, 301–310.Google Scholar
  28. Schultheiss, D., Palma, T., & Manzi, A. (2005). Career development in middle childhood: A qualitative inquiry. The Career Development Quarterly, 53, 246–262.Google Scholar
  29. Schultheiss, D. E. P., Palma, T., Predragovich, K., & Glasscock, J. (2002). Relational influences on career paths: Siblings in context. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 49, 302–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Slife, B. D. (2004). Taking practice seriously: Toward a relational ontology. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 24(2), 157–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Swanson, S. L., & Fouad, N. A. (1999). Applying theories of person-environment fit to the transition from school to work. Career Development Quarterly, 47, 337–347.Google Scholar
  32. Thayer-Bacon, B. J. (1997). The nurturing of a relational epistemology. Educational Theory, 47, 239–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Valach, L., Young, R. A., & Lynam, J. (1996). The family’s health promotion project. Journal of Health Psychology, 1, 49–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Valach, L., Young, R. A., & Lynam, M. J. (2002). Action theory. A primer for applied research in the social sciences. Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
  35. Vallacher, R. R., & Wegner, D. M. (1987). What do people think they’re doing? Action identification and human behavior. Psychological Review, 94, 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. von Cranach, M., & Valach, L. (1983). The social dimension of goal directed action. In H. Tajfel (Ed.), The social dimension of social psychology (pp. 285–299). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Wachtel, P. L. (2002). Probing the boundaries of the relational paradigm: Commentary on paper by Jeremy Safran. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12, 207–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Young, R. A., Ball, J., Valach, L., Turkel, H., & Wong, Y. S. (2003). The family career development project in Chinese Canadian families. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 62, 287–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Young, R. A., Lynam, M. A., Valach, L., Novak, H., Brierton, I., & Christopher, A. (2000). Parent-adolescent health conversations as action: Theoretical and methodological issues. Psychology and Health, 15, 853–886.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Young, R. A., Lynam, M. J., Valach, L., Novak, H., Brierton, I., & Christopher, A. (2001a). Joint actions of parents and adolescents in health conversation. Qualitative Health Research, 11, 40–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Young, R. A., Marshall, S., Domene, J. F., Arato-Bolivar, J., Hayoun, R., Marshall, E., et al. (2006). Relationships, communication, and career in the parent-adolescent projects of families with and without challenges. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Young, R. A., Marshall, S. K., Domene, J. F., Graham, M., Logan, C., Templeton, L., et al. (2007a). Meaningful actions and motivated projects in the transition to adulthood: Two case illustrations. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 7, 149–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Young, R. A., Marshall, S. K., & Valach, L. (2007b). Making career theories more culturally sensitive: Implications for counseling. Career Development Quarterly, 56, 4–18.Google Scholar
  44. Young, R. A., Valach, L., Ball, J., Paseluikho, M. A., Wong, Y. S., De Vries, R. J., et al. (2001b). Career development as a family project. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48, 190–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Young, R. A., Valach, L., & Collin, A. (2002). A contextual explanation of career. In D. Brown & Associates (Eds.), Career choice and development (4th ed., pp. 206–250). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  46. Young, R. A., Valach, L., Dillabough, J.-A., Dover, C., & Matthes, G. (1994). Career research from an action perspective: The self-confrontation procedure. Career Development Quarterly, 43, 185–196.Google Scholar
  47. Young, R. A., Valach, L., & Domene, J. (2005). Qualitative action-project methodology. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52, 215–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University ZurichBremgartenSwitzerland
  2. 2.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations