In our previous entries, we focused on information and how it is stored in long-term memory. Briefly, we identified two types of memory: episodic and semantic. Episodic memory houses information based on personal experiences that gets abstracted into semantic memory. Based on repeated experiences, this information is the source from which individuals derive their self-concepts. Semantic information is typically learned from didactic, observational or vicarious learning experiences, and is objective and verifiable. It too is stored in long-term memory and is the source of information that individuals have about the world of work. In this entry, we want to focus on how counsellors can best help clients develop healthy career-related schemes that are characterized by clarity, realism, consistency, esteem and efficacy.
Theory and research recognize that individuals making vocational decisions use information about themselves and the world of work. The self-information is stored in multiple self-concepts or schemes that comprise the self-concept system. We think the information within these schemes needs to be characterized by high degrees of clarity, realism, esteem and efficacy and a high degree of consistency between the existing schemes in the self-concept system. If the information in and between the schemes lacks these qualities and fails to facilitate effective decision-making, we think clients need to change it by incorporating new information and perspectives into their schemes through a process of known as accommodation.
It is known that once a scheme develops, individuals tend to interpret and assimilate subsequent information in terms of the original scheme. Accommodation is the process used to change this tendency and involves the re-appraisal and re-structuring of the existing information. Ideally this re-appraisal will result in more positive esteem and efficacy associated with the information in the schemes, and a higher degree of consistency of information between the schemes. At the end of this process, all relevant schemes should be characterized by realism, clarity and consistency, traits that facilitate vocational decision-making. Further, after the salient self-schemes are examined, we think the self-concept system needs to be examined particularly in terms of esteem and efficacy. When clients appraise their self-system more positively, they experience a positive change in their self-esteem and self-efficacy. These two attributes also facilitate the vocational decision-making process.
Likewise, when dealing with information about the world of work, counsellors can help clients develop more facilitative schemes by the ways the information is presented and linked to related existing schemes. For example, if a client is focusing on choosing the occupation of Social Worker, it is helpful for him/her to know such information as the role and function of social workers, the aptitudes, interests and temperaments of social workers, and the educational qualifications for entry into the occupation. Further, helping clients understand that Social Worker is one of many occupations included within Holland’s Social work environment expands their occupational possibilities. This information helps clients build schemes of what constitutes a Social work environment, and the number and relationship between the occupations within this occupational grouping. The benefit of such concept formation allows clients who decide to change their occupational focus the flexibility to examine other social occupations. When clients have considered their self-concepts and their knowledge of work environments, they are able to choose occupations that maximize the “fit” between these two domains of information.
BY: Jeff Landine and John Stewart
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA