As an agent of socialization, the environment provides individuals with the platform to live and socialize. Intuitively, various opportunities accorded to people, resources available to them, as well as, a social framework where they stay and socialize and contribute to their awareness, self-sense, and understanding of different alternatives. As such, there is need to consider various societal and personal factors while trying to understand the process of career development of a person. This essay describes how gender, ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status affect career counseling of an individual. It begins by providing brief background information of the fictitious client. It then explains factors that have influenced the career development of the client and describes ways in which assumptions and biases may affect the process of career counseling. It also offers a brief self-assessment and conclusion of the issues discussed in the paper.
Description of the Client
Sylvia is a single biracial mother of African American and Latina ascent. Brought up by a single parent who struggled to make ends meet, Sylvia received her general education development (GED) despite her low level of intelligence and economic hardships. Currently, she is an accountant and strives to provide her family with the necessary needs. Her hard work has earned her promotion and made her succeed in her professional life. Unfortunately, her position and job demands have made it difficult for her to balance family and work life. She hardly comes home early and barely accords her children the love and attention they require. As such, she fears that her children may be traumatized and develop negative attitudes towards her. She is contemplating reassigning from the job but worries how she will raise her children. As such, she is confused on the next course of action to take.
Career Development of the Client
Gender-related roles have complicated the counseling theory, particularly towards professional growth. Being employed outside the house and strenuous job demands have made it difficult for Sylvia to balance her professional and home life. The situation has made her feel that her home and work responsibilities and roles are conflicting. The gender-related role has also made her experience intense pressure to perform well in her profession as she is the only breadwinner for her family. Typically, stress to succeed in the job and caring for siblings to maintain a particular living standard has significantly influenced the type of positions and profession that individuals consider appropriate (Ancis, & Marshall, 2010). Being the sole provider for the family, Sylvia's identity is highly linked to her work, and thus her psychological welfare may be at risk when she underperforms in her job or loss the job completely.
Because Sylvia is a biracial mother, ethnicity and race have significantly influenced her career development. Various reports have identified ethnicity and race as some of the leading factors that play a critical role in the career growth and development (Arthur, & McMahon, 2005). From both a societal and personal perspective, ethnicity and race affect the kind of professions viewed as attainable and justifiable. From a personal viewpoint, the issues have influenced the type of occupations that Sylvia considers the reasonable option. This position has also shaped the form of learning opportunities and experiences to which the members of the racial and ethnic marginalized communities have been exposed, as well as, the presence of role models from her ethnic or racial group. On the societal viewpoint, ethnic and racial discrimination coupled with oppression had made Sylvia leave professions that she believes are inaccessible to her. Because of her biracial nature, it has been difficult for her to undertake other professional learning courses and exploit opportunities available for other employees.
The socioeconomic condition is indisputably among the diversity-related issues that play an essential role in the career development. Intuitively, socioeconomic status affects people's living conditions, their available resources together with the kind of experiences that they engage in. Maree (2010) noted that the socioeconomic conditions change the manner in which counselors form attitudes linked to career aspirations and success. For instance, in case a counselor believes that a person can only succeed when he or she works hard makes it difficult for a counselor to deal with social barriers affecting the professional growths of clients who hold that regardless of how hard they attempt, they cannot succeed through such a system. In line with Sylvia, she experienced economic hardships that prevented her from continuing her education, as well as, career path. Looking at her social, economic condition, it is quite difficult for her to continue her education as she needs to provide for her children.
Biases / Assumptions
From the perspective of a counselor, assumptions and biases can influence the process of career counseling in case the counselor is unaware of the cultures and differences in the manner in which individuals from various cultural backgrounds interpret some aspects of life. Therefore, the counselor should exercise some levels of carefulness while dealing with the client. In particular, he or she should understand cultural expertise of the client, self-awareness, and adapt to different counseling materials, techniques and procedures. To decrease assumptions and biases, the counselor should explore and become aware of varied cultural perspectives of the client and discuss the same with the client. From the client's perspective, the major bias is that client may have varied views on the best ways in which positive outcomes are attained. The client may also believe that therapists should show some levels of sensitivity to clients from different backgrounds. Some of the techniques that can be used to decrease the bias discussed above entail looking clients directly to their eyes, asking them many questions, physical touching, space and distance, self-disclosure, forbidden emotions, confrontation among others (Ancis, & Marshall, 2010). At times, clients may perceive counselor as not collaborative and motivate in the relationship and view themselves as not noticeable to the therapist. Similarly, the patients may believe that the psychiatrist is not offering the quality of assistance they deserve thus influencing the results of the counseling process. However, to decrease such biases, there is a need for clients to appreciate the fact that the counselor is culturally competent and can assist them in the process of career counseling.
The client's assumptions and biases encompass a poor understanding of various cultures and their influence on counseling process. As a counselor, there will need to incorporate career choices that clients may select considering their cultural backgrounds. Reports have indicated that biases and cultural diversity make it extremely difficult in goal identification and decision-making process for clients (Arthur, & McMahon, 2005). As such, the counselor will incorporate the social cognitive theory of cultural development while counseling clients as this will improve behavior change and enhance critical aspects of the social interactions. The method will also create a stable relationship that enhances individualism reflection on both personalized interests, as well as, the process of making decision irrespective of cultural orientation and background of the client.
In conclusion, various diversity issues such as gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors significantly affect career counseling and development. Similarly, the process of counseling process is full of assumptions and biases that can result in poor outcome. Therefore, the counselor should be aware of various diversity issues, their effects on career developments, and techniques to use to attain positive outcomes.
Ancis, J. R., & Marshall, D. S. (2010). Using a multicultural framework to assess supervisees' perceptions of culturally competent supervision. Journal of Counselling & Development, 88(3), 277-284.
Arthur, N., & McMahon, M. (2005). Multicultural career counselling: theoretical applications of the systems theory framework. The Career Development Quarterly, 53(3), 208-222.
Maree, J. (2010). Career counseling in the 21st century: South African institutions of higher education at the crossroads. South African Journal of Higher Education, 23(3), 80-81.
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