ERIC Identifier: ED414524
Publication Date: 1995-00-00
Author: Ward, Valerie G.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC., Canadian Guidance and
Counselling Foundation Ottawa (Ontario).
Career Counseling of Girls and Women: Guidelines for
Professional Practice: ERIC Digest.
The need for quality standards for the delivery of career counseling
services, and for the articulation of competencies required for practitioners
delivering these services, is gaining increasing attention in Canada and
elsewhere (e.g., Canadian Guidance and Counselling Foundation, 1993; Conger,
Hiebert, & Hong-Farrell, 1994; Splete & Hoppin, 1994; Riddle &
Bezanson, 1994). Work has focused on generic standards and competencies and
guidelines pertaining to specific populations.
One important contribution to these efforts in Canada is the guidelines for
career counseling of girls and women developed by the Collaborative Action
Working Group on Counselling (Ward & Bezanson, 1991). The guidelines which
follow were based on the guidelines, policies, and standards in the professional
literature (e.g., American Psychological Association, 1979; Fitzgerald &
Nutt, 1986) and those provided by governments and counseling associations. The
guidelines were a key component in a strategy to promote labour market equality
that was endorsed by Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women and Ministers
with Labour Market Responsibilities in all provinces.
Career counseling is understood to include
services and programs designed to facilitate individuals' development and their
ability to make optimal choices regarding their roles in occupational, familial
and social structures.
Responsible professional practice requires counselors to be knowledgeable
about the effects of gender in human development and to apply such knowledge in
career counseling with girls and women.
In order to ensure responsible professional practice, jurisdictions must
require all individuals involved in career counseling with girls and women to
adhere to the following guidelines:
Counselors are aware of the assumptions underlying various theoretical
approaches to the practice of career counseling and recognize that such theories
may apply differently to women and men. Counselors continue to examine
theoretical bases and assumptions underlying their practice to ensure that they
utilize theories and models which are free of sex bias and sex role stereotypes
and promote the realization of full potential by girls and women.
Counselors ascribe no preconceived limitations on the direction or nature of
potential changes or goals in counseling with women. In particular, counselors
ensure that career choice is an open process and that no individual is limited
by gender-or by race, age, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or
religion-from the exploration of any career option.
Recognizing that the use of male terms as gender-neutral reflects bias against
women, counselors use inclusive and gender-fair language in all oral and written
communication and ensure that resources used to assist clients with
decision-making are gender-fair. As an extension of this principle, counselors
also avoid the use of generic adjectives to describe women with handicaps (e.g.,
blind, deaf, and so forth) in order to avoid excessive focus on the disability;
descriptive phrases (e.g., women with visual handicaps) are used as a
much-preferred alternative to the more generic adjectives.
Counselors are knowledgeable about support services available to women (e.g.,
child care, legal aid, health care, transportation, emergency services) and
assist clients in accessing community resources which are suited to their needs.
Where significant gaps are identified in support services available to women,
counselors may initiate or act as catalysts for the development of such support
systems in their communities.
Counselors continue throughout their professional careers to gain knowledge and
awareness of social, biological and psychological influences on female
development in general and their career development in particular. As part of
their ongoing professional development, counselors continue to inform themselves
about specific issues which may have an impact on the career decision-making of
girls/women (e.g., balancing vocational and family roles, issues related to
training and employment of women in non-traditional occupations, family
violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault), as well as acquiring knowledge
which is relevant to counseling particular sub-groups, such as women with
disabilities, women who are culturally different, long-term welfare recipients,
and female offenders.
Counselors understand that the source of client difficulties often rests not
only in the woman herself but also in situational or cultural factors which
limit her concept of self, her aspirations and the opportunities available to
her. Counselors recognize and are sensitive to the impact of stereotyping,
prejudice and discrimination on the basis of gender--as well as race, age,
disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion--and work to counteract
the negative effects of such attitudes and actions.
Counselors are aware of and continually review their own values and biases and
the effects of these on their female clients. Counselors assess and monitor
their own activities to ensure gender-fair practices, as well as participate in
professional development programs, consultation and/or supervision to assist in
identifying and working through personal biases and issues which have a limiting
effect on their work with female clients.
Counselors support the elimination of sex bias within institutions and
individuals, by promoting fair and equal treatment of all individuals through
services, programs, theories, practices and treatment of colleagues and clients
which recognize the full potential of each.
Recognizing that there are circumstances where clients will have a preference
for a same- or opposite-sex counselor, whenever possible, clients will be given
the opportunity to choose the counselor with whom they will work.
The Working Group felt a need to go beyond suggestions for counselors to
include guidelines for jurisdictions employing counselors. Factors like access
to training, supervision, and tools to assist delivering appropriate services
for girls and women were seen as essential components in a strategy to promote
labour market equality.
The following specific measures to be taken by federal and provincial
jurisdictions were included in the report:
The jurisdiction is committed to providing or accessing the training and/or
professional development that supervisors and counselors require to enable them
to apply these principles effectively.
Each jurisdiction ensures that sex-fair language and balanced depictions of
women appear in all publications and resource materials.
Counselors will be given an opportunity for supervision/consultation to occur on
a regular basis to assist them in working through conflicts and issues which
arise for them in their work with clients.
A process will be put in place to monitor the implementation/application of the
The following recommendation was later endorsed by provincial Ministers:
It is recommended that each jurisdiction develop a policy and guidelines for
the provision of career counseling to girls and women which reflect the
principles and guidelines developed by the Collaborative Action Working Group on
It was hoped that the guidelines would be reviewed by professional
associations of counselors and adopted, or adapted to their particular contexts.
The Feminist Network of the Canadian Guidance and Counselling Association is
intending to take leadership in this initiative.
The development of guidelines has been an
excellent first step, but it is only a beginning. Further work is needed to
develop training for counselors and supervisors to translate the guidelines into
practice. The Canadian Guidance and Counselling Foundation, in partnership with
other groups, is eager to pursue these next steps so that the guidelines and
training can work together to advance the practice of career counseling for
girls and women.
American Psychological Association. (1979).
Principles concerning the counseling and therapy of women. The Counseling
Psychologist, 8, 21.
Canadian Guidance and Counselling Foundation. (1993). Ready for Change-Career
counselling and development in the '90s: A discussion paper. Ottawa, ON:
Canadian Guidance and Counselling Foundation.
Conger, D. S., Hiebert, B., & Hong-Farrell, E. (1994). Career and
employment counselling in Canada: A report to the Canadian Labour Force
Development Board. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Labour Force Development Board.
Fitzgerald, L. F., & Nutt, R. (1986). The Division 17 principles
concerning the counseling and psychotherapy of women: Rationale and
implementation. The Counseling Psychologist, 14, 180-216.
Riddle, D. I., & Bezanson, M. L. (1994). Quality career counselling
services: A policy workbook. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Guidance and Counselling
Splete, H., & Hoppin, J. (1994). Career counseling credentialing and
standards review. Rochester, MI: Career Development Training Institute at
Oakland University/National Occupational Coordinating Committee.
Ward, V., & Bezanson, L. (1991). Career counselling of girls and women:
Guidelines for professional practice. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 25,