How Can Career Counseling Help Me?

By Sarah Fader

Updated June 12, 2019

Reviewer Deborah Horton

What Is Career Counseling?

We have all been there. We dislike our current job position or are at a standstill with regards to our career path in general. You may want to start your own small business but don't know where to start. You may love your current job, but your ambition and bottom line are telling you that you need to seek other opportunities. You could be a high-school student who is overwhelmed with college applications and proposed majors and minors for your degree or trade school certification.

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


Regardless, you need some advice to continue to be the best version of your professional self. 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 his or her career choice, that could lead to anxiety, depression, physical health issues, mood changes and other adverse factors.

Career development is a lifelong process that begins when an individual is born. From birth to adulthood, people develop skills, interests, thoughts, processes and more that are influenced by heredity, personality traits, socioeconomic factors, etc. Career counseling can help you learn how to make heads or tails of your career development. What are you interested in? Which skills are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you need to achieve your goals?

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 will need your entire life. Career counselors help you identify the following: your skills, goals, feelings, and things concerning education, careers and continued development as well as other resources and career information online and near you; life factors that are influencing your career aspirations in positive and negative ways; and your next steps and 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.

Career Counseling Theories

Several theories come into play when a career counselor helps clients choose which methods are right for them and their careers. Since the early 1900s, theorists have created their hypotheses and studies about career counseling.


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 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 Whā 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.

Benefits of 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, due to structure and guidance. Individuals who have been in the workplace for multiple years could also benefit from career counselors' advice and methods. Working with a career counselor could help you in the following ways:


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 out 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.


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, the commitment of crimes and chances of incarceration. When employers provide or support career counseling, it means they won't experience as much potential turnover.


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.

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


What To Expect with Career Counseling

Whether you are a high school student looking for the perfect career path or a 20-year veteran of the workforce experiencing burnout, you may not know where to start. 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 to meet with your career counselor for the first - or 15th - time.

It's A Two-Way-Communication Process

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

Be Realistic and Honest

Sometimes, outside pressures help us form opinions that are not our own. A parent could pressure his or her child to go into the same career path as them or one that will pay more money. Someone may have told you that 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 to do, which will lead to more career and personal happiness.

Have Your Goals In Mind

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 do I want to improve, in terms of skills?
  • What is my educational background?
  • Do I need to further my education?
  • How much money do I want to make per year?
  • Do I want to have a job where I help others?
  • Do I thrive in a structured environment, or do I like a mix-and-match schedule?
  • Do I want to be my own boss?
  • What are my values and morals, as well as my profession's codes of ethics?
  • Do I want an office job or field work?
  • Do I need a stable job or can I take more risks?

Be Accepting of Change

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 arsenal. Accept challenges with open arms. Think inwardly, which will help you make necessary changes for success.

Of course, there will be times that you don't mesh well with a career counselor. Don't let that discourage you. Find someone else who can help you achieve your career goals. In addition, a career counselor could help you figure out how to best ways to negotiate salary raises, internal office communications, professional organizations related to your career and more. Locate a career counselor near you today to begin a new start - no matter how large or small - in your career. Start today -


^ The Value of Career Counseling & Guidance. Career Key. Accessed March 22, 2017.

^ Make the Most of Career Counseling. Peter Vogt. Monster. Accessed March 22, 2017.

^ What is Career Counseling? Boise State University. Accessed March 22, 2017.

^ Career Counseling. Written July 10, 2015. Accessed March 22, 2017.

^ Career Theory and Models. Written May 3, 2016. Accessed March 22, 2017.

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