ERIC Identifier: ED404582
Publication Date: 1995-00-00
Author: Amundson, Norm
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC., Canadian Guidance and
Counselling Foundation Ottawa (Ontario).
A Centric Career Counseling Model. ERIC Digest.
The centric model of career counseling was developed for use in employment
counseling (Amundson, 1987; 1989). This approach takes into account
psychological, social, and economic factors; work is viewed as one part of a
Four developmental phases are used to describe
movement within the centric model. Although these phases usually develop in a
sequential fashion, counselors should expect considerable back and forth
Readiness (Establishing the Working Alliance).
The initial relationship between counselor and client is critical and sets
the foundation for further counseling (Gelso & Carter, 1985). Counselors
need to create a "mattering" climate where the client feels acknowledged,
respected, and valued (Amundson, 1993). Creating this type of climate requires
attention to both physical environment and interpersonal dynamics.
Within the positive relationship there is the need to assess readiness with
respect to expectations, the fulfillment of basic needs, and self-esteem. For
many clients there is little point in proceeding to the second phase until some
basic issues are resolved. Many unemployed clients, for example, need to
normalize their experiences with unemployment before beginning any form of
assessment. Also, some clients have misperceptions about the nature of career
counseling and should discuss the process with their counselors prior to
engaging in further activities. Whatever the issue, counselors must pay
particular attention to pacing and only move forward once readiness has been
Exploration and Assessment.
Here the focus is on two different domains: the personal and the external.
The personal factors include interests, values, strengths (skills), limitations,
and personal style. Clients are encouraged to develop information on the various
personal factors through qualitative and quantitative assessments. The
information can come from a consideration of each area separately, or in a more
comprehensive fashion through the exploration of experiences.
The external domain includes significant others, work/leisure experiences,
educational background, and labor market options. Obtaining information in these
areas requires research, contact with others, and careful consideration of past
Figure 1 illustrates the above relationships [not available in this
While each of the factors are of equal size in the diagram, the dotted lines
indicate that the perceived importance of the various personal or external
factors can vary considerably. For some clients the role of significant others
is paramount; for others, it is of minimal interest. Assessing the relative
importance of the various factors can provide interesting insights.
Compromise, and Integration.
Following exploration and assessment, there is a need to draw the information
together and evaluate the viability of various options. Compromises may be
necessary, which may facilitate a new integration. It is important in this phase
that clients recognize the uncertainty associated with career choice (Gelatt,
1989). Some common myths which may need to be addressed are as follows:
--Once you make a career choice you are committed for life.
--The choice you make should be totally fulfilling.
--If you choose correctly you will be guaranteed a successful future.
Action Planning, And Follow Through
This last phase is based on the assumption that clients are ready to move
forward with their plans. They are willing to make a commitment to the process
and then select and pursue a few basic issues. To assist this process, Walter
& Peller (1992) use the following criteria in goal setting: (a) be positive;
(b) use action verbs (ending with "ing"); (c) focus on the present; (d) be
specific and think through the details; (e) consider only goals which are within
the client's control; and (f) use the client's language.
As clients move forward with their goals and overall action plans, there will
be consequences. A need then arises for follow-up to check the viability of
plans and to maintain client motivation. This final step leaves room for "fine
tuning" and is critically important to long term counseling effectiveness.
THE COUNSELING DYNAMICS
Counselors can facilitate movement
through the phases that are described above by using a combination of good
communication skills and structured activities. Skills such as paraphrasing,
clarifying, empathy, information giving, open-ended questioning, and summarizing
are helpful in the initial phases. There is also a role for reframing and for
constructive critical reflection. Thus, skills such as immediacy; self
disclosure; advanced, accurate empathy; supporting; limiting; and confrontation
(strength-challenge, in most instances) can be helpful.
One of the structured activities which has been associated with this model
focuses on the initial discussion of the counseling process. Figure One is used
to facilitate discussion by illustrating the factors included in the personal
and external domains (Amundson & Poehnell, 1993). Figure 1 also serves to
summarize information that is gathered during the exploration and assessment
A wide variety of other structured activities can be applied to both
information gathering and reframing (Goldman, 1992). The strategies focus on
different time orientations and facilitate the development of new perspectives.
Activities which focus on the past address normalization and the careful
scrutiny of past accomplishments. Within a present-time focus there is the
emphasis upon positive affirmation, limiting negative thinking, externalizing
the problem, decision making, and information giving. In terms of the future,
there is a focus on hypothetical solutions, behavior rehearsal, focusing, and
new cycles of activity. All of these activities involve the client in a
structured sequence of events which lead to greater personal awareness.
Movement through the various phases is not always sequential; what is
occurring throughout is movement from expansion to contraction and then to
further expansion. The need for expansion at the action planning phase is often
overlooked because of the need for closure. While it can be comforting for
clients and counselors to develop one plan of action, in today's labor market
more options and greater flexibility are necessary.
The centric career counseling model uses four
developmental phases to describe the counseling process. Progress involves back
and forth movement through the phases and the use of various structured
activities within a humanistic counseling context. Expansion is needed at the
exploration and assessment phase; contraction occurs as people evaluate and
commit to options; and further expansion and flexibility become necessary as
these options are imbedded within a fast-changing labor market.
Amundson, N. E. (1987). "A visual means of
organizing career information." Journal of Employment Counseling, 24, 2-7.
Amundson, N. E. (1989). "A model of individual career counseling." Journal of
Employment Counseling, 26, 132-138.
Amundson, N. E. (1993). "Mattering: A foundation for employment counseling
and training." Journal of Employment Counseling, 30, 146-152.
Amundson, N. E., & Poehnell, G. (1993). "Setting new career pathways."
Ottawa, ON: Employment and Immigration Canada.
Gelatt, H. B. (1989). "Positive uncertainty: A new decision making framework
for counseling." Journal of Counseling Psychology, 36, 252-256.
Gelso, C. J., & Carter, J. A. (1985). "The relationship in counseling and
psychotherapy: Components, consequences, and theoretical antecedents." The
Counseling Psychologist, 13, 155-244.
Goldman, L. (1992). "Qualitative assessment: An approach for counselors."
Journal of Counseling and Development, 70, 616-621.
Walter, J. L., & Peller, J. E. (1992). New York: Brunner/Mazel."Becoming
solution-focused in brief therapy."
Norm Amundson, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Counselling
Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver,