How Can Career Counseling Help Me?

By: Tanisha Herrin

Updated March 24, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Deborah Horton

We've all been there – you hate your job, or your career's stalled. You may want to start your own business but don't know how. Or you may love your job, but your ambition and bottom line are saying you need better opportunities.

Career counseling can help you make heads or tails of your career development by getting answers to questions about personal interests, skills strengths, and how to achieve your goals.

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Career Counseling

Why Get Support for Understanding Your Career Choices?

Americans spend approximately one-third of their lives at work, and according to a 2014 study, only 52.3 percent of people are happy with their jobs. If an individual is unhappy with their career choice, that could lead to anxiety, depression, physical health issues, mood changes, and other issues. Career development is a lifelong process that includes developing skills, interests, and decisions that are influenced by heredity, personality traits, socioeconomic factors, etc. Career counseling allows a person to understand themselves and their role in the workplace to make educated life decisions.

In essence, career counseling builds the foundation for decision-making skills you need throughout your life. Career counselors help you identify your skills, goals, feelings, education, and continued development opportunities. They offer valuable knowledge about resources and information, helping you understand life factors that influence your aspirations in positive and negative ways. They help develop an overall plan for goal achievement. Career counselors come in the forms of school counselors, therapists, life coaches, business-incubator organization representatives, colleagues, family members, friends, and more.

Ways People Benefit from Professional Career Counseling

You could reap several benefits of working with a career counselor to achieve your professional and personal goals. High school and college students who have worked with career counselors tend to achieve more of their goals because of structure and guidance. Individuals who have been in the workplace for multiple years could also benefit from a career counselor’s advice and methods. Working with a career counselor could help you in the following ways:

  1. Gain more knowledge. You could choose to go back to school to get a new degree or certification, boosting your career and confidence. You will feel prepared and know the ins and outs of educational systems pertaining to your chosen field. If you're a high-school student or early college student, a career counselor could help you figure out the levels of education you will need for your chosen career.
  1. Economic gains. Career counseling could help you manage times of unemployment and be more productive. It could also cause you to seek more opportunities that expand your professional realm. You could make more money, depending on your career path. For at-risk high school students, career counseling can decrease the chance of lower incomes. When employers provide or support career counseling, it means they won't experience as much potential turnover.
  1. Expand social connections. You will feel more satisfied on the job and at home. You could also increase your networking skills and decrease stress and other work-related factors.


How Professional Career Counseling Helps Define Career Decisions

Several theories come into play when a career counselor helps clients choose which methods are right for them and their careers. People have been developing thoughts and practices on career counseling since the early 1900s.

Here are some examples of career counseling theories that shape our opinions and beliefs about careers:

  • Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory: We watch what other people are doing or not doing around us as well as thought leaders. Our human thought process helps us to make career decisions.
  • John Holland's theory of career choice: Careers are a marriage between our environments and personality types. We want to have a job with other like-minded individuals.
  • John Krumboltz's theory: It's OK not to have a plan; sometimes, unplanned occurrences can lead to career opportunities and growth.
  • Frank Parsons' theory: We match careers to our talents, skills, and personalities.
  • Donald Super's theory: People change over time, and so do their senses of selves and career goals.
  • Te Whare Tapa Wh? theory: Career goals can be associated with having good physical and psychological health.
  • Coaching theory: Individuals undergo consistent sessions to form a coherent, big-picture career plan.

A career counselor will determine the best method for a client or which mindset a client already has and how to build upon or change that theory.

What To Expect With Professional Career Counseling

Career counseling helps you understand where to start whether you're a school graduate or employed in the workplace. If your school or workplace offers career counseling, take advantage of those opportunities. If they do not, search for a career counselor near you to help you wade through your career aches and pains, successes and goals. Keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for upcoming sessions.

It's a two-way communication process. The client has to be open to assessing strengths and weaknesses. Be upfront and honest about what you want and don't want. In turn, the career counselor must talk with the client to see the best available options based on interest, experience, skills, and ideas. Participate in the process. Your career counselor relies on you to give input rather than sit there passively waiting for answers. Career counselors will use theories and approaches to tailor your session. For example, if a person does not like talking with people they don’t know, perhaps a telemarketing position wouldn't be the right fit. If someone expresses an intense love of animals, a career counselor may suggest veterinary medicine or working at an animal shelter.

Be realistic and honest about your career outlook. Sometimes outside pressures help us form opinions that are not our own. A parent could pressure their child to go into the same career path as them or one that will pay more money. Someone may have told you you're not good at something. Or maybe you are good at something and feel typecast and backed into a creative corner. Whatever the case, be honest with who you are and what you want to accomplish. Making your own decisions will ensure you are doing what you want, which will lead to more career and personal happiness.

Sometimes We Need Advice On Being The Greatest Version Of Our Professional Selves
Need Help Understanding Where You Fit In? Talk To A Career Counselor Today


Be clear about your goals. Before your meeting with your career counselor, have some goals in mind. If you need more direction and don't know which career path to take, make a list of your interests and skills. Your career counselor will work with you to formulate a tailored plan to help you reach your outlined goals and objectives. You will get more out of the process if you begin to think about what you're good at or want to learn more about.

Think about the following questions before, during, and after your sessions:

  • Which activities fulfill me?
  • What are my top five skills?
  • What skills do I want to improve?
  • What is my educational background?
  • Do I need to further my education?
  • How much money do I want to make?
  • Do I want to have a job where I help others?
  • Do I thrive in a structured environment, or do I like a flexible schedule?
  • Do I want to be my own boss?
  • What are my values and morals?
  • Do I want to work from home or in an office? Do I want to do fieldwork?
  • Do I need a stable job, or can I take more risks?

Other Actions To Consider for Professional Career Counseling

If you go into your career counseling session with an open mind, that will pay more dividends. What works for some people may not work for you but always be willing to try or at least have a conversation about a proposed change. You are talking with a career counselor to help you figure out your first career, a major career change, or suggestions on how to be a more effective employee. Be willing to make changes to your personal feelings and skills. Accept challenges. Think inwardly, which will help you make necessary changes for success.

Talk to people you know about your career options and actions you want to take to gain further perspective. You can connect with people in your desired field and get suggestions on how to make improvements or changes. If you are working for an employer, ask about career advancement options or other forms of support they offer to employers seeking career guidance.

Talk to a Therapist About Your Career

A study found online career counseling to be as effective as face-to-face counseling. Fifteen university students participated in online career counseling, while 15 students had face-to-face career counseling. The result was that both modes of delivery for career counseling yielded similar results of advancing students’ career development. Online therapy can also help with stumbling blocks to pursuing the career you desire. Some of these stumbling blocks are depression and social anxiety. An online therapist can show you steps how to manage these symptoms while offering emotional support and understanding.

BetterHelp Understands Career Development

Assess your career potential by working with a professional counselor with experience helping others discover their direction. BetterHelp has provided in-depth online counseling to people working in various industries seeking advice. Sometimes talking to someone about your goals and aspirations may bring new light on actions you can take from another perspective. If you're feeling anxious, confused, or frustrated about your current situation, or you want to discuss what could be holding you back from achieving the success you want, talk with an experienced counselor who cares. You will be able to meet with your counselor anywhere, from your home to even your car and at a time convenient for you. Learn a little more about online counseling by checking out BetterHelp's Instagram page and by reading the following reviews.

Counselor Reviews

"I worked with Erin for a couple of months while dealing with a stressful transition and major career deadline. I felt like I was in over my head, and I was anxious and exhausted. I thought that we established a good rapport right from the start, and Erin had helpful things to offer me from the first few moments that we worked together. Erin is warm and intuitive, and she brought a great sense of humor to our sessions. Erin provided an excellent combination of affirmation, doable "homework," and helping me understand myself and my reactions to my situation better. I recommend Erin incredibly highly!"

"David has been my greatest support in navigating issues that were simply holding me back from being happy. Before working with David, I was suffering from anxiety due to relationship issues and career changes that were putting me in a bad place. We worked on everything step by step and I can say, with great gratitude, that I feel much stronger and happier now, after only a few months. I've managed to rebuild that strength in time with his help. He's also never missed a session and always went the extra mile to help with everything he could. Thanks, David!"

Conclusion On Career Counseling

Get your career goals on track by considering the tools and resources covered in this article. Whether you want to change careers or explore advancement opportunities, a career counselor can assist with assessing your options. Get started today by working with someone who wants to help you achieve career success.

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