Author Archives: Stephanie Burley

A Counsellor in Transition

Posted by: Stephanie Burley on septembre 15, 2015 2:18

 

door-672999_1280I have been working as a career counsellor on and off for the past 8 years. I’ve taken academic breaks, and short contracts related to other forms of counselling, but over all my experiences have been deeply rooted in career counselling. When I returned to graduate school in 2011 it was with the intention of switching my career focus from employment and career counselling to personal counselling. In 2010 I was working in Calgary, Alberta as a Youth Employment Counsellor at a downtown resource centre. The population group that accessed these services were mostly street-involved youth who had so many barriers to employment that I felt as though there was little that I could offer as a career counsellor to help. The clients I saw were often homeless and hungry. There was a very high number of clients struggling with addictions. I met with countless young mothers who didn’t have the resources to provide for their children the way they wanted. And I met with young women who were victims of sexual and physical abuse – often at the hands of loved ones. When these individuals sat down in my office and said they wanted help figuring out their careers it was challenging for me to address their wishes without first addressing their housing/nutrition/safety concerns. This experience motivated me to seek out further training and education so that I could be equipped to help the whole person sitting in front of me. Continue reading




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Managing Change and Transition from an Academic Career Counselling Perspective

Posted by: Stephanie Burley on juillet 15, 2015 2:12

Change is inescapable in life. It follows us wherever we go, and at each stage of our lives. Some of us are better suited to manage change than others, and some even thrive in times of transition. But for others, change can be a source of anxiety, stress, and discomfort. Sometimes we see change coming, and can brace ourselves for the fall out, or prepare ourselves so things can transition more smoothly. Other times it is unexpected or thrust upon us with little to no warning, and can leave us completely lost and disoriented.

startup-594091_640Students, no matter their level of study – whether they be undergraduates or post-docs – are under a great deal of stress and pressure. How can I as a career counsellor provide support and strategies to these students to help them manage the multitude of changes that will be thrown at them throughout their academic lives and beyond?

With the academic labour market such that it is right now, I am seeing an influx of clients who are transitioning out of careers quite unexpectedly. Many of the graduate students and post-doctoral fellows that arrive in my office, started out on their academic path with a certain goal in mind. They were going to be professors. They would contribute to an existing body of research and literature on their topic of specialization, and they would mentor, coach and teach junior academics to follow in their footsteps. The Canadian academic labour market has become increasingly saturated with PhD qualified academics, but vacancies for tenure track positions are becoming scarce. There are a slew of reasons as to why this is happening, and sometimes I will share these with the student, but that’s not really of importance at this stage. Providing an explanation as to why the labour market is how it is doesn’t do much to ameliorate the situation for the individual faced with abruptly changing the course of their career and life trajectory. Instead, I focus my energy on the individual in front of me, and the situation they are experiencing. How can I support this individual to cope with this transition, and develop skills that will hopefully allow them to navigate future transitions? Often I incorporate into my counselling practice the 4 S’s of Transition Theory as discussed by Goodman, Schlossberg and Anderson from their work titled “Counseling Adults in Transition (2006). I use this model to help guide the questions I ask and the direction that our conversation takes. Continue reading




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Musings of a Conference Junkie

Posted by: Stephanie Burley on juin 2, 2015 8:28

June 2, 2015

Self-care has become a hot topic within the realm of counselling, and rightfully so. As counsellors we are witness to an incredible amount of pain, loss, trauma, and a myriad of other emotions. In order to forge a positive therapeutic alliance with our clients it is important that we as counsellors are in a place of wellness so that we can bring our own strength into the counselling relationship to assist our clients by asking those hard questions, and listening without judgement. In my own experience I find that I often don’t know that I need to indulge in self-care until I finally do it. Once immersed in a self-care activity it becomes strikingly apparent that, boy, did I need it! Last week I had the privilege of spending three and a half days at the CCPA National Annual Conference in Niagara Falls. It might sound odd to equate attending a busy, mentally taxing conference with self-care, but I can assure you that is exactly what it was. This is an interesting point to consider – self-care needs to be tailored to the individual. Not everyone will find the same activities rejuvenating or restful.

Currently I am working as a Career Counsellor in an Ontario university. Although I have seen some attitude change, I believe that there is a belief that career counselling is different from personal counselling. I’ve heard colleagues in non-counselling roles indicate that career counselling was the “light” side of counselling. I suppose in some instances this may be true. However, as a career counsellor I can attest to the fact that the clients that join me in my office are often experiencing emotions linked to loss, grief, disappointment, confusion, frustration and shame. Over the past several months I have seen students – both at the undergraduate and graduate level – arriving in my office and sharing stories of financial crises, marital separation, heniagara-falls-113525_640alth concerns, stress and anxiety, familial pressure to succeed, and suicidal ideation. The number of instances where I have asked the student sitting in front of me “are you planning on harming yourself?” is now so high I’ve lost track. The idea that career counselling is “light” counselling does not align with the experience I have had throughout my career.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA