“Prof. Maree will be a visiting professor at the University of South Bohemia, Department of Pedagogy and Psychology, Faculty of Education,
University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czechia from 17 – 24 November 2019. During his stay, he will present lectures and workshops on topics such as
“Combining ‘scores’ and ‘stories’ in career counselling (implementing and integrative, qualitative-quantitative approach)”,
“How to conduct (but also not to conduct!) research in Psychology in the future: Examining and learning from the past”,
“Self- and Career (Construction) Counselling (including the use of the Three Earliest Recollections)”,
“Drawing on ‘stories’ and ‘scores’ to promote dialogue and expedite achievement in mathematics”, and
“How do students from minority groups deal with everyday ‘challenges’ related to education, finding job opportunities, and social issues?”
The world of work is changing all the time. In the past, people would probably choose one career and stick to it for the rest of their lives, gradually climbing up the ladder with clearly demarcated and structured relationships. They might even remain at one company throughout their working lives.
But today, people move between careers and jobs several times; they have to navigate many work-related transitions.
The problem is that career counselling hasn’t, for the most part, adapted to these new realities. In the developing world, traditional career counselling approaches are still the order of the day. Young people – usually in their second last or last year of secondary schooling, and who are able to afford such a service – consult a professional career counsellor.
They are asked questions about their personal and family history, then complete a few interest and personality inventories. They may also write a set of aptitude tests, answer questions about their study habits and attitudes, and then receive what amounts to career education or career guidance.
For the most part, this approach is no longer working satisfactorily in a rapidly changing world. I am involved in many research projects, task teams, as well as in an advisory capacity, and the situation is by and large the same everywhere: alarmingly high tertiary dropout rates are related in part to undecidedness or career indecision. As my research has shown, students often discover that the degree they’ve chosen doesn’t interest them. They become indecisive and unsure about what they want to do as a career and feel stuck.
Based on my own research, and drawing from different approaches to career counselling that have enjoyed success in the developed world, I believe that it’s time for developing countries to approach career counselling differently; more respectfully. One approach, which we tested, was having conversations with students in which they tell their stories, rather than simply writing down answers to aptitude test.
Research has shown that encouraging people to tell their stories in career counselling settings has direct, positive results. It enhances people’s career adaptability and career resilience. This makes them more employable. When people share their autobiographies, they can be helped to identify their key life themes and find out what really drives or motivates them.
This sort of approach has also been shown to improve people’s chances of finding sustainable, decent work.
“Storytelling” is already widely used in career counselling in the US, Western Europe and Australia, among other places. Some of my colleagues and I have begun to introduce it in South Africa. Our research has conclusively confirmed the vast potential of the approach.
This sort of career counselling involves asking people not just to fill in aptitude tests or assessment sheets, but to also explain what drives or motivates them. This would centre on their key life themes – for instance, a candidate who says “I want to help people who are being hurt or bullied or do not have a voice” and who talks about sympathy or compassion or caring a great deal might be well suited to law, nursing, social work, psychology, or theology.
These life themes can be uncovered by, for instance, asking people about their earliest recollections (in the case of individual assessment) or, in group-based contexts, their biggest challenges while growing up. People are, for instance, also asked to tell the career counsellor who their role models were when they grew up; who their current role models are, and what they regard as their greatest strengths and areas for growth.
The ultimate aim is to help people not only choose a career and “find work” but also to make meaning of their career lives, find a sense of purpose and hope, design a successful life, and make meaningful social contributions.
This approach calls for listening and repeated reflection. Counsellors who are trained in the method create a ‘safe’ space for people (help them feel sufficiently contained) to narrate stories about their lives and their work. Ideally, people who undergo this sort of counselling should emerge with a deeper understanding of who they are and how this might play out in their work.
Of course, it will take time and training for career counsellors to start embracing this sort of approach. It took me more than a decade and a half of applying the new approach in my private practice (and constantly refining it) before feeling that I have mastered it to a satisfactory degree.
First, relevant stakeholders will have to accept that a different approach is required by career counsellors to respond appropriately to large-scale changes in the world of work.
Second, universities’ psychology (and education) departments will need to adjust their curricula, since it is here that future career counsellors are trained. I am training Master’s students in educational and counselling psychology in this approach, and their feedback about the course is consistently positive and inspiring.
Those who are already working as career counsellors could undergo further training to develop new, different approaches that are more in keeping with the demands posed by the changing world of work.
Career counsellors’ allegiance should be solely to their clients. Given this fact, and the fact that research has shown how valuable this and other different, more modern approaches to career counselling can be, it would be good to see them more widely in action.
Prof. Maree recently spent some time as a visiting professor at the University of Florence. During his stay, he presented lectures and read a keynote at the One-day International Conference on Decent work and Sustainable Development: An of existential psychology perspective for innovation and social inclusion” (21 September 2018).
“JvR and I are delighted to announce that the CIP assessment is now officially live on the JvR Online system. As you are aware, the MCM, too, went online about one year ago. We hope the CIP will help many users discover their central life themes, connect the many dots in their micro-, meso-, and macro-career life stories, bolster their sense of self, foster their identity formation, and experience first-hand that magic happens when they move forward.”
I thank Dr Jopie de Beer, Mrs Jani Wiggett, as well as all our other colleagues who contributed to publishing the CIP (and the MCM) online. Colleagues, you really are the very best. Words alone cannot express my gratitude and my sincere gratitude for exceptional help and support. It has been an amazing and most educative experience to work with an learn from you.
This montage comprises a brief summary of photographs and video clips assembled during Prof. Maree’s recent research visit to the Good Work Foundation in Hazyview.
This montage comprises a brief summary of photographs and video clips assembled during Prof. Maree’s recent visit to Istanbul, Turkey, where he read a keynote entitled
“The centrality of experiencing a sense of meaning and purpose in the career-life in promoting happiness”
and presented workshops on “The art and science of writing scholarly articles”.
Call for Proposals for Special International Issue of British Journal of Guidance and Counselling
Happiness and Well-Being
Call for Manuscripts: Special issue of British Journal of Guidance and Counselling (BJGC) 2018
Revitalising career counselling to help workers re-design their career-lives and find sustainable, decent work
Pretoria, 18 Januarie 2017 – Derduisende studente wat elke jaar probeer om plek te kry by ‘n universiteit word weggewys. ‘n Opvoedkundige sielkundige glo dat universiteite hulle aanlynregistrasies beter moet bestuur en dat studente beter voorligting moet kry oor al die alternatiewe vir universiteitsonderrig.