NCE – Parson’s Steps…


This brief paper will utilize Parson’s Steps of Career Guidance as founding concepts for Trait and Factor Theory. Firstly, I will list my values, interests, and achievements. Next, I describe how this information fits with the occupational goals discussed last week. Research is included on key aspects of my future occupation as


Chapter Two of our textbook describes the work of Frank Parson’s, whose work underlies Trait and Factor Theory (Sharf, 2006). Parsons believed that vocational guidance involved a series of steps that begins with self-understanding and obtaining information on potential career options (Sharf, 2006). By correlating individual traits with factors related to success in a potential occupation, an individual is able to make an informed career decision. This paper provides an overview of these initial steps of Parson’s vocational guidance process. It then concludes with an application to one’s work environment in order to satisfy the job’s requirements as well as one’s personal needs.

Step One: Gaining Self-Understanding

​My decision to enter the counseling field is the result of a long research process. I decided on this field after entering completing several years of counseling as a client. In the initial phases, I engaged in a thorough self-assessment of personal interests, aptitudes, achievements, values, and personality traits. What follows an overview of what I learned about myself as a result of this process.

Aptitudes & Achievements

Sharf, (2006) states that while academic achievement pertains to how much an individual has learned, aptitude tests reveal a person’s future probability of success. While I was an academic underachiever growing up, I am currently maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Regarding academic aptitude, the results of a WISC-R assessment at the age of 9, indicates my overall IQ is 111, in the high normal range. Finally, a review of my academic history indicates my strengths are English and the social science.

When applying the concepts of aptitude and achievement to my career background, I feel that my current job doesn’t allow me to apply utilize the full range of my abilities. In other words, my level of achievement doesn’t adequately measure up to my overall raw aptitude. While this does frustrate me, I’ve learned to accept this sacrifice as the result of a concerted effort to put my family first.

Personal Interests

​While I am less interested in careers that pertain to the subject of math and science, I’ve always had a strong interest in the visual arts field, and social services. In college, I majored in Sociology and Psychology and enjoyed learning all aspects of human nature. My current career choice, is the result of a balanced consideration of both pragmatism and passion. While I will always enjoy art as a hobby, the social services field has always been my career focus.

Personal & Work-Related Values

Sharf, (2006) suggests that a values assessment should consider both work-related and personal values. My job history indicates that I seek a deeper purpose in my work and am not motivated primarily by my paycheck. Additionally, while my job provides financial security, autonomy, it lacks opportunities for personal development, creativity, and ability utilization (Sharf, 2006 p36).

Myers-Briggs Personality Type

The results of an old Myers-Briggs type indicate I am an INFP personality type. According to Sharf (2006), my primary cognitive functions include introverted feeling and extraverted intuition. A review of literature on Myers-Briggs typology provides a good overview on my basic temperament and nature (Briggs Myers, 1982; Kiersey, 1998; Robards, 1986). In fact it is also interesting to note that, every MBTI resource I’ve read lists counseling and writing as top career choices for my type. For example, Robards, (1986) states: “the combination of intuition with feeling forms the very cornerstone of your personality: a temperament we call the Empathist” (p. 13). This insight is confirmed by Kiersey’s description of the INFP as “Healers” (Kiersey, 1998).

Step Two: Occupational Information & Requirements

​As I mentioned in last week’s paper, my decision to become a therapist is the result of a carefully decision-making process in which I fully explored all options. In fact, I decided to enter the counseling field after completing my own therapy. A review of my values, interests, aptitudes, and temperament, all indicate this career field is an ideal fit. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the counselor’s involves working with a highly diversified population in a range of settings (U.S. Department of Labor, 2010, p206). Additionally, there are many types of counselors including school counselors, vocational counselors, mental health, substance abuse, and family counseling (U.S. Department of Labor, 2010). While specific requirements vary from state to state, a Masters degree is required. Finally, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicates the projected job growth rate between 2012 and 2012 is at 29% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). This is promising news, in light of the fact that the average job growth rate for all professions is at 11% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Finally, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2015) states that therapists make an average of $25,000 – $60,000 yearly.

Application of Work Adjustment Theory

The work adjustment theory focuses on how individuals adjust to their work environment in order to satisfy work requirements while addressing personal needs (Sharf, 2006). This matter is an ongoing issue in my current job as a Psych. Tech / C.N.A. As someone who is exposed to individuals in acute stages of physical and mental illness many of Sharf’s (2006) adaptive performance skills pertain to my situation (p116). For example, I’m engaging in proactive behaviors in order to make adjustments in my schedule and work environment where possible (Sharf, 2006). Additionally, I’m constantly adjusting my personal responsibilities and self-care needs so I have time to work through the stress and physical exhaustion associated with my work. Finally, the tolerant behaviors described in our textbook include finding a deeper meaning in the experiences (Sharf, 2006, p116). This essentially involves utilizing the introverted feeling function as I commit to the idea of providing good care to patients (Sharf, 2006, p116). This deeper meaning provides me strength to face my workday. I’m grateful for this background of adapting coping skills since it will prepare to address a new range of stressors associated with my future career as a therapist.


Briggs Myers, I. (1982). Introduction to type, (3rd Ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press, Inc.

Keirsey, D. (1998). Please understand me II: Temperament, character, intelligence. Del Mar,
​CA: Prometheus Nemesis.

RoBards, M.J. (1986). Insight: A perspective on personality. Laguna Beach, CA: Leadership

Sharf R.S. (2006). Applying career development theory to counseling. 6th Ed. Belmont CA:

Us Dept of Labor. (2010).Occupational outlook handbook 2010-2011. US: O’Reilly.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, (2015, November, 07). Occupational
​Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and
​Family Therapists, Retrieved from:​service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm

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