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Industrial & Organisational : Introduction : Personnel : Organizational psychology : Occupations: Work environment: Index : Outline

Occupational guidance (or career counseling, career guidance, or vocational guidance) is the provision of help in career selection and career development. It usually involves the assessment of abilities, aptitudes and occupational interests as a basis for discussion.

Career Counselling and career coaching are similar in nature to traditional counselling (Kim, Li, Lian, 2002). However, the focus is generally on issues such as career exploration, career change, personal career development and other career related issues (Swanson, 1995). Typically when people come for career counselling they know exactly what they want to get out of the process, but are unsure about how it will work (Galassi, Crace, Martin, James, and Wallace, 1992).

Career counsellors work with people from all walks of life such as adolescents looking to explore career options or with experienced professionals looking for a career change. Career counsellors typically have a background in psychology, vocational psychology, or industrial/organizational psychology (Swanson & Parcover, 1998).

The approach of career counselling varies by practitioner, but generally they include the completion of one or more assessments (Swanson & Parcover, 1998). These assessments typically include: interest inventories, cognitive ability tests, and personality assessments.

Researchers in the field

See also


  • Swanson, J.L. and Parcover, J.A. (1998). Annual Review: Practise and research in career counselling and development — 1997. The Career Development Quarterly. 47, 2, 98-135.
  • Galassi, J.P., Crace, R.K., Martin, G.A., James, R.M. & Wallace, R.L. (1992). Client preferences and anticipations in career counselling: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Counselling Psychology, 39, 46-55.
  • Swanson, J.L. (1995). The process and outcome of career counselling. In W.B. Walsh & S.H. Osipow (Eds.), Handbook of vocational psychology: Theory, research and practice (pp. 295-329). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Kim, B.S, Li, L.C., and Lian, C.T. (2002) Effects of Asian American client adherence to Asian cultural values, session goal, and counsellor emphasis of client expression on career counselling process. Journal of Counselling Psychology, 49, 3, 342-354.
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