NCE – Career Counseling Section

Comparing Prescriptive and Descriptive Decision Making

According to Sharf (2006), descriptive theories explain our career decisions while prescriptive theories state there is an ideal approach to making these decisions. Examples of descriptive theories include Miller-Tiedeman’s Lifecareer theory and Hansen’s Holistic Approach (Sharf, 2006). Described as a spiritual approach to career decision-making, these perspectives conceive the ultimate goal is the discovery of “inner meanings found deep within” (Sharf, 2006, p417) oneself. As a result of this self-understanding, clients can utilize their own inner wisdom to discover what is right for them. In this process, the counselor does not direct but simply guides. According to Miller-Tiedeman, “you are not looking for a career…your life is your career”. (Sharf, 2006, p418). In other words, the search for a career is the process of defining one’s calling or life path, which Hansen adds is one part of a greater and “meaningful whole” (Sharf, 200, p426).
​In contrast, a cognitive information-processing approach, utilizes psychological decision making theories its basis (Sharf, 2006). Questioning one’s belief systems and examining decision-making skills are key components of this approach. Utilizing what Miller-Tiedeman describes as a common reality perspective, (Sharf, 2006), this approach requires self-knowledge and us to acquire occupational before we can begin making a decision effectively. Additionally decision-making skills are said to follow a logical process that includes: “Communication, analysis, synthesis, valuing, and execution” (Sharf, 2006, p432).

In the second part of this discussion board post we are to apply these decision-making theories to the client’s we work with daily. I work in the health-care field, which is fairly prescriptive in its decision-making approach. This is because, when it comes to health-related knowledge, we are usually left to rely on the “experts”. The doctors inform patients of a diagnosis and provide their recommended options. When faced with a critical decision that can have a profound affect on one’s well being, we usually rely on their judgment. It is difficult to question their abilities and judgment until after the fact when we notice an issue of malpractice has occurred. For example, when patients are given the facts of the diagnosis, they are allowed to examine the options. With this information, they synthesize information, analyze options and provide a personal evaluation of which fits best. This is very cognitive in nature, as I see it.
Having said this, it is usually the job of nurses and social workers, to address the spiritual matters pertaining to a client’s decisions. For example, prior to a surgery, nurses are required to have clients fill out a consent form indicating they understand what is happening and decide to follow-through with the doctor’s recommendations. Struggling with personality reality concerns, as Miller-Tildeman describes, is often related to one’s mortality and the lasting personal consequences of a health-related decision. What will my level of independence be? What will my life expectancy be? Bigger picture questions, are often addressed by nurses and social workers, which help the client’s come to terms with the life-altering consequences of such decisions.


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

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NCE – Self-Efficacy

QUESTION: “…many children in residential treatment, as well as adults, experience low efficacy as a result of many ‘failures’. How will this low self-efficacy impact the career choices of both children and adults…”

Sharf, (2006), defines self-efficacy as “people’s judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances” (p396). Additionally, our textbook notes that our interests and outcome expectations are influenced by our beliefs of self-efficacy (Sharf, 2006). In other words, our perceptions of, “what is possible”, is a reflection of how we view ourselves. In the question above, we are asked to consider how low efficacy impacts the career choices of both adults and children. If a person doesn’t get to experience a sense of self-efficacy, they haven’t had a chance to learn the true breadth of their capabilities.

Understanding the importance of context in which self-efficacy develops can be a useful starting point in career counseling for individuals in the above example. The background influences of a socioeconomic status, cultural values, or gender expectations on an individual’s influence our perceptions of self-efficacy in ways we don’t often realize. Utilizing this insight as a way of understanding how we form a sense of self-efficacy, allows one to question it with a more critical eye. This might be a useful first step in situation as described in the above question.

QUESTION: “… How can you build up someone’s sense of self-efficacy without setting them up for more disappointment?”

As stated above, a useful first step will be helping the client understand of the background context in which a person’s sense of self-efficacy develops. With this mindset in place it is possible to then re-examine how past career choices reflect our sense of self-efficacy. For example, how has one’s self-efficacy determined their understanding of outcome expectations? How are their interests influenced by self-efficacy? How do these concepts define their career goals, and actions (or lack thereof)? Finally, focusing more directly on the proximal influencers we have more control over can help build a sense of self-efficacy. For example, if a client addresses financial barriers to education through student loans, a sense of possibility and self-efficacy develops. As I consider the application of these concepts to the above example, the process starts with a readjustment in the client’s thinking. The critical final component involves taking action to actively rebuild one’s sense of self-efficacy based on new experience.


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

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NCE – Super’s Model


This brief paper utilizes Super’s view of career maturity to an adolescent familiar to me. I provide an over of my assessment of this individual in terms of Super’s 5 components of career maturity and how this model can help assess the child’s needs.


​Super’s Model of career development provides useful insights from a life-span perspective. Many of the insights contained in this theory are based on key figures in developmental psychology including Piaget and Erickson (Sharf, 2012). For example, according to Super’s theory adolescent career development at first arises from curiosity and fantasy play (Sharf, 2012). Additionally, an adolescent’s progression toward career development is moved forward by an increased capacity for abstract thinking and drive towards identity development (Sharf, 2012). As a result, adolescent career development is centered on developing interests, and abilities while exploring various career paths. According to Super, adolescent maturity as it pertains to career development encompasses five key factors, which I will utilize to assess an individual I know personally in the remainder of this paper.

Career Planning

​The first subscale of career maturity for adolescents requires an assessment how much time they take to explore various career options (Sharf, 2012). The individual I am utilizing for this paper is an adolescent male relative, whom I am very close to. He is 15-years-old and a sophomore. Thankfully, he is a very bright boy who studies hard and does very well in school. Additionally, his development is also very reflective Erickson and Piaget’s insights. As a result, due to greater levels of abstract thinking our conversation have deepened significantly. He is definitely asserting independence as well. My goal, has been to encourage the development of real life skills. Therefore, I set clear parameters for him, and give him room to figure his way to fulfill them. This has resulted, in the development of a solid work ethic, and good study skills. Regarding the career planning subscale, this individual is currently working on narrowing down his interest areas. He has chosen to enroll in advanced science and math classes, and hopes to start focusing on getting some college pre-requisites out of the way while in high school. Finally, in order to explore his creative side, his is taking drawing classes at the Joslyn.

Career Exploration

The second subscale of career maturity focuses on their degree of desire and willingness to engage in the process of exploration (Sharf, 2012). In this respect, it reflects their overall attitude toward work. I am aware of adolescents on all ends of the spectrum regarding this specific subscale. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that this subscale not only reflects maturity level but an individual’s hopes for the future. Individuals who are not willing to engage in the process of exploration, in my experience often uninspired. The specific individual I’m focusing on for this assignment, has expressed his concerns about going to college and then finding out he can’t get a job. He also doesn’t want to go to school just “to go to school” to waste our money and his time. It is his hope, to find a way to make a living doing what he loves. In this respect, he is focused on narrowing down his interests with a goal of developing some direction before he begins college.

Decision Making

​The third subscale of career maturity assesses an adolescent’s decision-making process. This requires examining how they make use of the information they have available. This individual is very pragmatic in his decision-making. He is very aware of the idea that college doesn’t always produce a marketable skill. He is not wanting to get a college degree that doesn’t yield some meaningful job prospect once he is done. Additionally, he is well aware of the costs, and is very mindful of this. I’m hoping to help that once this individual turns 16 that he can find a job, and learn more about the value of a dollar, so this idea is driven home further.

World-of-Work Information

​The fourth subscale of career maturity assesses how well they realistically understand the specific job duties associated with their career interests and understanding of the process of applying for jobs (Sharf, 2012). Regarding the individual in question for this assignment, I do believe he has a bit of work to do. His levels of understanding regarding the job duties associated with a career are limited. Additionally has never applied for a job before. Jobs for 15-year-olds are very limited. Having said this, it is my belief that this individual needs to focus on narrowing down his interest areas, before beginning to explore a specific career. I’m considering summer time activities that might provide him these opportunities. The goal is simply find opportunities to explore things related to his interests, and see what piques his curiosity. For example, UNO has a career exploration program through its engineering program. CHI / Alegent Health has a career exploration camp for medical professions. These are ideas I’m running by him currently.

Knowledge of Preferred Occupations

The final subscale of career maturity assesses an adolescent’s understanding of how preferred occupational areas correlate with their own abilities and interests (Sharf, 2012). Essentially, this subscale requires a degree of self-understanding alongside a basic knowledge of key occupational areas. Currently, the individual I’m focusing on for this assignment, has a sufficient degree of self-understanding. He knows what he likes and doesn’t likes. Additionally, he is taking time to continue exploring these interest areas. At the same time, he isn’t as knowledgeable of specific career areas. In order to begin correlating interest and abilities with specific career areas, it will be necessary for him to further define his specific interests.


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

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NCE – “SSI” Method


This brief paper provides a series of self-assessments utilizing the Strong Interest Inventory and SSI Method.


This paper reviews two separate assessments. The first utilizes the results of the Strong Interest Inventory, based on Holland’s six types of personalities as it pertains to career choice (Sharf, 2006). The second assessment focuses on utilizes “The SSI Method of Assessment” (Author, 2015). This methods requires an individual to a self-examination from three perspectives: (1) personal strengths, (2) areas of improvement, and (3) insight and self-understanding (Author, 2015).

Strong Interest Inventory

According to the results of a Strong Interest Inventory, I display interests in two broad occupational areas: the artistic theme and social theme (Prince, 2015). My STD score for the artistic theme is 64 and 54 for the social theme (Prince, 2015). The results of my Strong Interest Inventory describe these levels of interest as high and moderate respectively (Prince, 2015). Additionally, I display little interest in the realistic, enterprising, and conventional occupational themes with STD scores ranging from 34-39. (Prince, 2015). Finally the Investigative Theme sits in the mid-range between these extremes with a STD score of 40.

Overview of Artistic Theme

Sharf, (2006) describes the artistic personality as “creative communicators” (Prince, 2015) who prefer a free and unstructured atmosphere. The artistic environment is ideal for this temperament since it encourages self-expression and creativity (Sharf, 2006). The results of my Strong Interest Inventory add that work activities common in the artist field include music, writing, performance and the visual arts (Prince, 2015). The strongest basic interest areas within this Artistic Theme, according to my results include “Visual Arts and Design” (Prince, 2015) with an STD score of 68. The area of “Writing and Mass Communication” (Prince, 2015) follows this basic interest area with an STD score of 63. As strong as this personal interest area is, I’ve always made time for creative pursuits. However have preferred not to focus on this area as a career, since I prefer it to exist as a free form of self-expression.

Overview of Social Theme

​According to the results of my Strong Interest Inventory, the Social Personality is described as “Empathetic Helpers” (Prince, 2015). They are interest in helping others through teaching and other personal services. The Social Theme Environment encourages the values of kindness, generosity, and friendship and social responsibility (Sharf, 2006). It’s interesting to note that my current profession as a C.N.A. is classified within this profession. Additionally, my future career aspirations as a Mental Health Counselor fall within this category.

Top Occupations

​Interestingly, I find little personal interest for those occupational areas listed at the top of the Strong Interest Inventory. Surprisingly, this inventory provided the following suggestions: Librarian, Photographer, Technical Writer, Art Teacher, Musician, Translator, Mental Health Counselor, Speech Pathologist, Artist, and Reporter (Prince, 2015). On the one hand, I have no interest in being a technical writer, translator, speech pathologist, photographer, or librarian. At the same time, I do consider myself an amateur artist who is working towards a career as a mental health counselor.

Personal Style Scales

While my work style involves a balance combination of both independent and collaborative work (Prince, 2015). I enjoy research and reading as an effort that involves learning for its own sake (Prince, 2015). My leadership style involves developing personal expertise in the context of my work rather than direction (Prince, 2015). Finally, my risk taking and team orientation are skewed towards caution and independence respectively (Prince, 2015).

SSI Method of Assessment

​This section of the paper utilizes the SSI Method of Assessment, which focuses on three key areas: Personal Strengths, Areas of Improvement, and Insights (Author, 2015). I utilize these three key areas to provide a personal career counseling assessment that can help me as I progress toward a career in Mental Health Counseling.

Personal Strengths

Career Counseling requires several key strengths, including empathy, self –care, and the ability to apply theories in the form of clinical judgment. This clinical judgment, in my opinion, involves applying insights from these theories in a way that merges objective standards with subjective understanding. I feel my strengths in this area involve an orientation toward empathic engagement with others and a priority towards self-care. As a C.N.A. and Psychiatric tech, the marriage of these two strengths is essential if I desire to give the best to others. Finally, as I progress towards LMHP licensure, I work to apply the insights gained through coursework.

Areas of Improvement

I can continue to improve my skills and knowledge by working to apply what I learn throughout my personal and professional life. As a mother and healthcare worker, I spend the majority of my time caring for others. This provides many opportunities to apply the insights learned from others. Foremost amongst these is the need of self-care in order to prevent compassion fatigue.

Insights Gained

I’ve learned that I give to others on the basis of who I am as a person. For this reason, the insights gained from the assessments utilized in this paper are useful from the standpoint of personal development. As a person who aspires to a career as a mental health counselor, it is my hope to engage in this learning process as one of personal development. This involves improving my level of self-care and understanding.


Author. (2015). SII Method of Assessment. Retrieved from:

Prince, J.P. (2015, December, 16). Strong interest inventory profile with college profile. Retrieved from:

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

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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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