Career counseling, as a broad sphere of theoretical and practical frameworks aimed at helping clients make the right professional choices at different stages of their life span, deals with a variety of specific cases. In order to develop an effective intervention plan and solve the client’s problem, a counselor needs to assess a client, his or her worldview, family background, and personal preferences and abilities through qualified communication and appropriate application of theories. In this paper, a case study of Veronica Vargas will be analyzed with the help of such elements as genogram construction, worldview interpretation, theory application, client conceptualization, intervention discussion, and description of cultural issues.
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As illustrated in Figure 1, Veronica’s genogram includes her father and mother’s branches, leading to their three children, including Veronica, Annie, and Lewis.
As the genogram shows, the main influences on Veronica’s career choice in the Vargas family have her parents, George and Sarah. As it follows from the interview with the client, her relationship with the mother is more trusting than the one with her father. It indicates that Veronica is more likely to follow the lead Sarah and engage in a serious healthcare-related professional field. However, George’s strict attitude toward life choices determined by his first profession as a military man in combination with the cultural particularities of Latino family imposes psychological constraints on his daughter’s career choice. Also, since Veronica is the oldest daughter in the family, she bears the burden of responsibility due to her dominating position among the Vargas’ children.
Client’s Worldview Description
As it follows from the case study description, Veronica perceives herself as an achiever whose successful and hard-working educational experience contributes to future professional advancement. Since her high school years, the client has volunteered to help in a pediatric department of a local hospital and developed a fondness for this kind of occupation. From the perspective of the developmental career theory, Veronica is at the exploratory stage of career search, where she narrows the choices of her future occupation but does not make a final decision (Zunker, 2016). Overall, the choice of career is crucial for the client and determines her relationships with others.
According to the trait and factor theory, the educational achievements in the field of nursing and the overall inclination of the client to work with people allow for identifying her strengths and weaknesses (Zunker, 2016). The diverse cultural background of her parents, where the father’s family is originally from Guatemala, and the mother comes from a Jewish family, determines the framework of Veronica’s attitudes to career options.
The collision of values and role expectations between the two cultures causes the conflict in Veronica’s choice between the desired profession and the required one. George’s vision of the particular role of the oldest daughter in the family and the encouragement for Veronica to spend more time with friends and boyfriends instead of working and studying signalize that the father expects his daughter to perform a family role rather than professional.
At the same time, the family is important to the client due to the cultural values of family relations in the Latino communities. Veronica is intimidated by the need to visit a counselor because the challenges in career choice do not seem to be important enough to seek assistance outside the family. However, her self-esteem is high enough to pursue her dream occupation. The difficulty of the overall situation lies in the collision of family values and the consideration of the future professional role.
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Necessary Additional Information
In the course of initial interviewing, some more information concerning educational achievements would be required to analyze the level of skills development. A more descriptive interpretation of the situation with career choice presented by the client in private communication will help in a more accurate assessment of her worldview. The counselor would require the client’s description of her perception of the medical field as the profession.
Also, it would be important to clarify Veronica’s vision of influential factors determining the shift in her major. When conceptualizing the case, one should refer to the specific learning experiences acquired in the professional setting. Since the client has a history of volunteering in a pediatric department, her feedback about the merits and demerits of the identified setting will be useful for further work. It will help to perceive a more detailed vision of the problem under discussion and will facilitate the development of the intervention plan for the client. A sufficient amount of collected information will benefit the process of counseling and contribute to the integration of appropriate interventions.
Krumboltz’s Learning Theory
Basic Constructs and Concepts
The social learning theory, which is referred to as the learning theory of career counseling (LTCC), deals with an understanding of the diverse types of influences through social interactions as the main triggers of career choice. This theory was initially proposed and developed by Krumboltz, Mitchell, and Gelatt in the mid-1970s and later expanded by Krumboltz and Mitchel (Zunker, 2016). According to this approach, the process of decision-making related to a career vastly depends on the combination of life events and conditions surrounding a person. Thus, the family and genetic inclinations, environmental factors, educational achievements, and skills development all constitute a foundation for the ultimate choice of occupation.
The authors of the theoretical approach justify four basic factors influencing career development. The first one addresses genetic endowments and deals with the inherited individual characteristics or professional inclinations running in the family. The second factor involves environmental conditions and events, such as natural resources, disasters, or living conditions that are beyond the client’s influence but have a significant impact on the choice of a profession (Zunker, 2016).
Learning experiences comprise the third factor of influence and include instrumental and “associative learning experiences” (Zunker, 2016, p. 34). On the one hand, instrumental learning implies making conclusions about particular actions and their consequences by means of social interaction or personal experience. On the other hand, associative learning experiences are created upon “negative and positive reactions to pairs of previously neutral situations” (Zunker, 2016, p. 34).
Finally, task approach skills constitute the fourth influential factor and embody several skills, including problem-solving, decision-making, cognitive and emotional responses, which help identify the potential to pursuing a particular career path (Zunker, 2016). The theory aims at simplifying the process of career counseling and underlines the individual particularities of each client, depending on which the influential factor will vary.
Concepts not Applicable to the Client
Considering the individual character of the influences a particular person might experience, not all of the above-mentioned concepts might be applicable to the case of Veronica Vargas. Indeed, including the description of the situation in the case study, there are no specific conditions in the environment in which the client lives that might affect her desire to shift from nursing to medicine. Therefore, the factor of environmental conditions is not relevant to the case due to the absence of the extraordinary environmental influences that impose career-related behaviors.
The choice of the theory is determined by the complexity of the influences it embodies that are relevant to the case. The career-related concerns of the client are based on her genetic and cultural background, as well as her learning experiences and skills. According to Zunker (2016), Krumboltz’s learning theory is designed as a theoretical framework for developing career decision-making skills that will be useful for a client not only during the counseling sessions but also throughout his or her life span. Moreover, the application of LTCC will ensure thorough addressing of all the influential elements and help resolve the issue of the change of professional education from nursing to pediatric oncology. The theory is not limited to a single perspective and allows for a broader interpretation of the problem under the influence of various factors observed in the case.
According to the chosen social learning model, Veronica’s genetic endowment entails her willingness to help others like her mother, who works as a social worker. Inherited intellectual abilities and altruistic devotion to important jobs contribute to the client’s desire to pursue the medical field that would imply more important responsibilities and more special professional skills than nursing. Overall, the genetic factor plays a significant role in influencing Veronica’s career-related decision-making process. Associative and instrumental learning experiences are derived from the immediate social environment, including the family, of the client, and are considered the most influential factor in Veronica’s case.
Firstly, instrumental learning experiences are formed under the influence of observed attitudes on the importance of pediatric oncology as a profession. This factor is impacted by Veronica’s self-observation generalization because she has had a successful experience of working in the pediatric department and has acknowledged her satisfaction with such kind of occupation. Also, since Veronica’s boyfriend studies at the medical educational facility, the desire to shift might be dictated by the motivation to fit the social environment.
However, the reactions of Veronica’s father to the daughter’s engagement in medicine both during her high school years and the first year in college impose negative reactions to the profession as inappropriate. The same collision of reactions is observed when analyzing the associative learning experiences retrieved when comparing nursing and medicine. On the one hand, the socially imposed idea that being a doctor is more reputable than being a nurse serves as a motivation to shift to medicine.
However, George’s claims concerning the cost of additional schooling and the inappropriateness of the medical profession for his oldest daughter create a negative reaction to pediatrics as an occupation for Veronica. Finally, the task approach skills that the client has developed during her volunteering and studying at college might impact her decision to engage in the pediatric field.
In order to identify the influence of the analyzed factors on the client, the counselor might apply several assessing and therapeutic interventions to help Veronica differentiate between the important and non-important contributors to her decision-making and ultimately resolve the issue. It is noteworthy that the overall communication with the client would be maintained according to the framework of motivational interviewing, which has shown significant positive results in resolving the client’s career-related issues (Klonek, Wunderlich, Spurk, & Kauffeld, 2016).
The first intervention that would be applicable to the case is Myers Briggs Type Indicator that might help Veronica verify her personality fit in the pediatric department (Yang, Richard, & Durkin, 2016). The instrument entitled My Vocational Situation (VMS) might be used as a means of identification of the causes of a problem. One of the three elements of VMS, called Emotional and Personal Barriers, will benefit the resolution of issues with the influence of the father’s disapproval and determine other potential difficulties in decision-making (Zunker, 2016).
Also, the California Test of Personality might be used to identify the character of relationships in the family and their influence on career choice (Zunker, 2016). As Fouad, Kim, Ghosh, Chang, and Figueiredo (2016) claim, the role of the family is crucial in career choice, especially for students who primarily depend on their parents’ support. Similarly, Whiston and Cinamon (2015) emphasize that the work-family interface might be a cause of distress and must be accurately considered by career counselors.
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Finally, the Work Values Inventory would be used to measure “altruism, aesthetics, creativity, intellectual stimulation, independence, prestige, management, economic returns” and other elements of professional life (Zunker, 2016, p. 178). The combination of the chosen interventions is expected to provide positive results in the counseling process.
Influential Factors in Work with the Client
The specific features of work with Veronica might be influenced by her age, gender, and mixed cultural background of her family. Since the client is a first-year college student, her age particularities should be considered in the construction of communication and interventions. The client should be treated as a responsible adult but with the application of encouraging techniques. Since the client is a female, it is important to direct the counseling measures at the identification of the client’s perception of women’s roles in the family and society to maintain consistent therapeutic procedures. Also, the Vargas family is of a mixed cultural origin, where the mother is Jewish, and the father is Latino. Therefore, it is necessary to study the particularities of career perception by these two cultural groups so that the interventions fit Veronica’s worldview.
Counselor’s Cultural Values and Biases Affecting the Client
It is commonly accepted in the counseling field that the work of a professional with a multicultural population should be carried out within cultural sensitivity competency (Dillon et al., 2016). Failure to meet the expectations of multicultural counseling competence might lead to therapy failure. Thus, the biases in work with Veronica might occur on the basis of interpersonal communication due to the differences in nationality since Veronica comes from a Latino family. To avoid that, a counselor needs to investigate the particularities of the Latino culture. Also, since the client had been very reluctant to start counseling sessions and did not perceive such meetings as dignifying activity, it might be difficult to encourage Veronica to engage in the interventions.
To sum up, the case of Veronica Vargas is complicated due to the presence of multiple influential factors determining her career-related concerns when deciding to shift from nursing to pediatric oncology. The counseling interventions should be applied according to Krumboltz’s Learning Theory, which best fits the situation where the client is engaged in an educational setting and is challenged by the family members’ opinions. To succeed in therapeutic procedures, a counselor should preserve multicultural competency and consider all influential factors to minimize biases and contribute to the problem resolution.
Dillon, F. R., Odera, L., Fons-Scheyd, A., Sheu, H. B., Ebersole, R. C., & Spanierman, L. B. (2016). A dyadic study of multicultural counseling competence. Journal of Counseling Psychology,63(1), 57-66.
Fouad, N. A., Kim, S., Ghosh, A., Chang, W., & Figueiredo, C. (2016). Family influence on career decision making: Validation in India and the United States. Journal of Career Assessment, 24(1), 197-212.
Klonek, F. E., Wunderlich, E., Spurk, D., & Kauffeld, S. (2016). Career counseling meets motivational interviewing: A sequential analysis of dynamic counselor-client interactions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 94, 28-38.
Whiston, S. C., & Cinamon, R. G. (2015). The work-family interface: Integrating research and career counseling practice. The Career Development Quarterly, 63, 44-56.
Yang, C., Richard, G., & Durkin, M. (2016). The association between Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and psychiatry as the specialty choice. International Journal of Medical Education, 7, 48–51.
Zunker, V. G. (2016). Career counseling: A holistic approach (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.