Connecting What We Know Consciously with What We Are Aware of Subconsciously: Orientation of and Rationale for the Book

  • Jacobus Gideon (Kobus) MareeEmail author


In this chapter, I first dwell briefly on important events in the field of career counseling over the past few decades and explain why innovation in the field is needed. I draw on one of my earliest recollections to set the scene for what is to follow in later chapters and elaborate on my own personal Damascene moment—a moment that convinced me forever of the need for as well as the power and value of an integrative QUALITATIVE-quantitative approach to career counseling, particularly at a time when many speculate that work itself is at risk. I conclude by outlining the contents of the book and explaining its aims—to help people connect what they know about themselves consciously with what they are aware of subconsciously (elicited by activities such as asking clients for their most hurtful experiences or for their earliest recollections).

1.1 Orientation

For the purposes of this book, I accept the following definition of the word “innovate”: The Collins Dictionary (n.d.) explains that the word “innovation” stems from the word innovationem (Latin for renew or change).1, 2 It refers to something new or a novel way of doing something that already exists or even introducing novel or new ideas, strategies, methods, or features. The word thus comprises a process that innovates or renews something that already exists. It does not introduce something that either has not been there before or something entirely new. The word “renewal” probably best describes the essence of what innovation means. Fraser (2014, n.p.) adds: “For this renewal to take place it is necessary for people (counselors as well as their clients) to change the way they make decisions … they must choose to do things differently, make choices outside of their norm.”

This book should be read against the background of the following premise: The future is here already and the unpredictable world of work is changing continually, rapidly, and fundamentally. Moreover, the pace of change is accelerating all the time; something that career counseling needs to respond to in a proactive, timeous, appropriate, and innovative manner. The situation differs from country to country—Work 4.0 is impacting workers in different ways. The situation in Global North countries in particular differs widely from that in the Global South. The industrial sector, especially in the Global South, has been shrinking, and people have increasingly been turning to the service sector and informal settings for employment opportunities. This will continue to be the case (M. Ribeiro, personal communication, September 29, 2019).

Whereas the situation of many workers in the Global South or developing countries has not changed markedly, with these workers still functioning in what can be classified as “fixed” hierarchical structures, in typical Global North contexts such structures are fast disappearing and work contexts are becoming more unstable and insecure (Rossier, Ginevra, Bollmann, & Nota, 2017)—to a large extent because of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Work 4.0) and more particularly the upsurge in networking and connectivity (Gurri, 2013). To an increasing extent, people are working in non-traditional environments. London (2018), for example, maintains that the erstwhile “pyramidal” or ladder-type of occupational hierarchy or occupational order (where relationships are clearly structured) is changing. According to London (2018, n.p.):

In the more dynamic Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), people will increasingly find that they have to work with a larger variety of people at different times, some above and some below them in terms of rank, expertise, or experience; this constant rotation means that an ability to manage up – which can mean anticipating needs and coming up with solutions without being asked – is that much more important.3

Likewise, McPherson (2018, n.p.) maintains that “[w]hat we are really looking at is the emergence of an entirely new economy … What differentiates the 4IR from former revolutions is the quantum of change and the convergence of global factors (such as climate change, rising populations, and terrorism) of a magnitude quite unprecedented in human history”. There is every chance that Work 4.0 and Work 5.0 will increase the already significant divide between people without adequate access to resources and those with sufficient access, thereby also increasing the “Matthew effect” (Merton, 1968). Workers in less “fixed” work environments are often engulfed by the discourse that those who manage to find work should consider themselves fortunate to be in any job at all, that robots are rapidly taking over the work of humans (in lower order work positions in particular), and that, in many instances, work opportunities advertised in future may carry the disclaimer: “Humans should not apply” (Grey, 2014). Many people are losing their jobs, work opportunities are dwindling, and the key question has now become: What sense does work make? In such circumstances, it is not strange that workers and work-seekers in particular find it difficult to make meaning of their work-lives, find a sense of purpose, and rekindle a sense of hope for the future. This at a time when the general belief is that all people have a right to “decent work [that] helps all workers attain a sense of self-respect and dignity, experience freedom and security in the workplace, and … [allows them] opportunity to choose and execute productive, meaningful, and fulfilling work that will enable them to construct themselves adequately and without restrictions and make social contributions” (Di Fabio & Maree, 2016, p. 9).

What has been discussed above would be incomplete without a brief reference to the ‘arrival’ of the coronavirus (Covid-19) globally. Even though the full impact of the virus will only become clearer over time, it is safe to predict that its ripple effect will influence the world of work globally extremely negatively. Kelly (2020, p. 1), for instance, says that “[t]he coronavirus has changed the job market almost overnight. The global outbreak has seriously impacted the economy and job security. It will have long-lasting, game-changing ramifications”. Hooley, Sultana, and Thomsen (2020) maintain that the coronavirus’ primary threat is to people’s health but that its threat to the economy “is likely to have an even greater impact. We can expect unemployment to rise, occupational shifting to increase, and job content to change” (p. 3). Speculation is rife, but there seems to be general agreement that many millions of jobs will be lost and that those jobs that remain will become increasingly sought after. More specifically, there will be an increase in the demand for jobs that can be executed online. It is therefore clear that a prompt and decisive local and global response by all stakeholders is required to address the fundamental changes in people’s work-lives following the coronavirus pandemic. The need for telehealth (including telepsychology and especially, from the perspective of this book, tele-career counseling), too, will increase substantially.

In my opinion, too much negative emphasis is placed on matters such as predicted job losses. I support those who have a more balanced outlook such as Pring et al. (2018) who say: “In the future, work will change but won’t go away … a world without work is a fantasy that is no closer to reality in 2017 than it was more than 500 years ago upon the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia” (p. 4). Gaskell (2018), too, believes that the discourse on the future of work focuses too much on envisaged job losses resulting from Work 4.0-related developments. He argues that “[i]t’s a narrative that doesn’t really provide an accurate reflection of the true state of things … there is a growing consensus that AI-driven technology will change the kind of work we do, which will require adaptation both of the roles themselves and the skills required to perform them. It will automate some entirely (although not as many as predicted), and the productivity gains will result in new jobs emerging” (p. 1). Of relevance here is Pring et al.’s (2018) observation that “human imagination and ingenuity will be the source of human work ad infinitum” (p. 4).

Irrespective, however, of whether one agrees or disagrees with the gloomy predictions, career counseling theory, research, practice, and policy need to be revamped and updated regularly. Kuhn (1996) and Kuhn and Hacking (2012) believe that paradigms in general lose their power and validity after a period of about 20 years. Savickas (2007) maintains that career counseling paradigms last only 50 years or so, after which they lose their effectiveness as lenses for observing the career-related behavior of people. They also lose their capacity to help career counseling theorists and practitioners plan appropriate and timeous career counseling interventions. Career theorists, researchers, and practitioners need to ensure that their counseling prepares people for the numerous transitions and challenges they will face in the occupational world. This includes increased levels of work-related anxiety and trauma caused by changes in unpredictability-filled workplaces (Maree, 2013a). Career counselors will have to help clients deal with work-related anxieties and help them set viable short-, medium-, and long-term goals for making meaning of and attaining a sense of purpose in their career-lives4 (Hartung, 2011; Strauser, Lustig, & Ciftci, 2008). In summary: A practical local and global response is needed that will enable us as career counselors to respond practically to events in local and global economies that impact modern-day occupational contexts as well as the career-lives of workers.

1.2 Why This Book? Rationale for the Book

As stated earlier (Maree, 2013a), the plight of impoverished people has always been a profound concern of mine. Given the extent of recent changes in the workplace and the concomitant escalation in job losses and poverty, now, more than ever, career counseling needs to ensure that different categories of people benefit from career counseling interventions: (a) a gifted school student in a private school in Wroclaw who wants to become an architect; (b) a bright student in a public school in Nigeria who wants to become a medical doctor; (c) an inmate of a Pakistani correctional services facility wanting to study law; (d) a young woman from a small school in a little town in Japan who is interested in becoming a plumber; and (e) a learner with an intellectual disability in Pyongyang who has no idea what she5 wants to study. Career counseling should also be offered in group contexts, for example (a) to a group of homeless migrants living in an informal settlement outside Paris; (b) to destitute people living on the outskirts of Sao Paolo; (c) to a group of displaced people in a part of Homs that was almost completely destroyed during the Syrian civil war; (d) to groups of Indian graduates in Mumbai who cannot find employment; and (e) to a group of unemployed women who have not received formal after-school training and live in poverty outside Bloemfontein (see Winslade, 2011).

Of course, not all people will agree with the above exposition. Bassot (2015), for instance, in reviewing an earlier book of mine (Counseling for career construction, Maree, 2013a, 2013b) said that “it is difficult to imagine that any single approach could achieve [the aim of finding a contemporary, contextualized approach that will be of value to every person irrespective of color, creed, financial situation, or geographic location] … in this respect perhaps the author simply gave himself an impossible task” (p. 370). I respectfully disagree with this comment. What I was in fact trying to say was that career counselors should be able to contextualize their interventions in a way that makes them helpful, useful, and valuable to all people and not to just a select, privileged few. Moreover, I argue in favor of an approach that will address the work-related needs of all people and help them find sustainable, decent work.6

My goal in life is therefore to reach out to people in general and to the “voiceless”,7 the homeless, the forgotten, and the disadvantaged in particular. A quote by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta, has always inspired me and neatly sums up how I feel about life, work, and research. She said: “The other day I dreamed that I was at the gates of heaven. And St. Peter said, ‘Go back to Earth. There are no slums up here’”.

My life goal is consistent also with the UNESCO goals of ensuring that career counseling is always contextualized, that all people receive career counseling, and that sustainable decent work is made accessible to everyone. Moreover, with reference to Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address (Herndon & Welk, 1892), I believe in career counseling of people (construction of their life stories), career counseling with people (themselves co-, de-, and reconstructing these stories), career counseling for people (by career counselors), and career counseling by people (themselves) or self-advising. Ultimately, regarding career counseling, I agree that “[h]eaven is something that each and every one of us can hold in her or his hand” (Lofts, 1958, p. 15). Or, in the words of Dolly Parton, whose inspiring “career-life story” encapsulates the essence of postmodern career counseling (see Chap.  12): “One is only poor if [one] wants to be poor.” By this is meant that we cannot and should not be defined by our contexts. With the necessary support structures and mechanisms to respond to challenges, people have the power and innovativeness to act proactively, convert challenges into opportunities, inaction into actionality and action, “problems” into growth areas and strengths, questions into answers (and answers into further questions), and subconscious life themes into conscious motivations to make a success of our lives—as humankind has done consistently throughout the ages, no matter how daunting the challenges facing them. Allen (2015), for instance, reminds us that, in the 1800s, the Luddites in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire smashed weaving machines in the belief that they would take over their jobs. Today, retail staff members are concerned about automatic checkouts, and taxi drivers worry about self-driving cars. A research study by Deloitte found that, rather than jobs being “destroyed” by technology, the latter has consistently shown itself to be “a great job-creating machine” (Allen, p. 3). There are thus different perspectives on the future of work, and one should carefully consider the various viewpoints if one wishes to arrive at an informed opinion on the matter.

1.3 Main Innovation to the Field of Career Counseling I Am Proposing

1.3.1 General Introduction

Changing times call for regular adaptation of older and conceptualization and development of contemporary assessment instruments, both quantitative and qualitative (Duarte, 2017a, 2017b; Hartung, 2011; Savickas et al., 2009; Soresi & Nota, 2010). Moreover, general consensus exists today on the merits of storied (qualitative) approaches to career counseling in conjunction with narrative-based theories and the design, development, and use of appropriate assessment instruments and interventions alongside objective or quantitative approaches (Hartung, 2011; Maree, 2013b, 2018c; Savickas, 2005, 2011; Subich, 2011). Many qualitative, storied questionnaires have been developed during the past few decades thanks largely to the work and leadership of Mark Savickas, supported by a number of other scholars. Bimrose and Hearne (2012) maintain that while general consensus exists about the effectiveness of quantitative methods, techniques, strategies, and interventions in career intervention (Savickas, 2001), the effectiveness of approaches or modalities that do not blend quantitative and qualitative modalities should be questioned (Blustein, 2006). This chapter covers this topic and describes an attempt to address the lacunae highlighted by, for instance, Bimrose and Hearne (2012), Hartung (2018), Maree (2018a, 2018b), and Savickas (2015a, 2015b).

Niles, in (1997), urged those of us working in career counseling to think innovatively in the interests of clients and to conceptualize, implement, and examine the value of new paradigms and associated interventions on an ongoing basis. This will help ensure the lasting value of career counseling theory and practice across time, space, and location.

1.3.2 Main Innovation I Am Proposing

The main innovation to the field of career counseling that I am proposing is my integrative model. The theoretical background to the advances in the pre-existing theories and practices proposed by this model is elucidated in the first part of the book, after which the practical application in various contexts is explicated. The following should be stated up front: It is my conviction that (self- and) career construction and life design counseling do not exclude the use of tests. Quite the opposite. For purposes of triangulation, and to improve the rigor of intervention, personally, I prefer to draw on all three of the fundamental theoretical paradigms on which (self- and) career construction theory is based.

1.4 Looking Back Over the Past to Help Us Map and Shape the Way Forward

Practicing as a career counselor (and psychologist) for more than four decades has been something that I would not have missed for anything in the world. The journey has been rewarding and memorable.

Looking back over the years reminds me of being on a flight late in the evening, sitting in my window seat and casting my eyes down from about 1000 meters on the scene below: a few lonely lights somewhere in the vast, encompassing darkness. A lonely farmhouse or two. A few more lights; seemingly, a small town. Many lights; clearly a city. The lights neatly dotted. These sights always excite me. What can be more hauntingly beautiful than looking out of the window, early in the morning, outside Istanbul, for instance? Ships (small and large) in the harbor. Many lights mystically dotting the contours of that timeless city; the aerial perspective enabling one literally and figuratively to see the “bigger picture”.

Now, in your mind’s eye, picture yourself on the airplane during your return flight in broad daylight. See Mother Nature’s topographical features and natural boundaries such as winding river courses, mountains, hills, and forests. By contrast, see human-made structures such as houses, towns, informal settlements, cities, dams, canals, farms, corn, and lucerne fields.

From a height of some 1000 meters it is relatively easy to obtain a bird’s eye view of the scene below and to decide where and how to intervene—to “reshape” Mother Nature’s features in the interests of progress. This could include building new dams and new roads and highways. All in the cause of improving living conditions and promoting the best interests of humanity.

Similarly, with the advantage of distance and perspective, career counseling theorists, researchers, practitioners, and policy makers can gain useful insight into what has worked in the profession, what no longer works, and what needs to be changed, adapted, or even discarded in order to respond appropriately to global changes, changing contexts, and new challenges in the occupational world. The entire book should be read and interpreted through this lens.

1.5 Setting the Scene for This Book: An Earliest Recollection

I realized early in my life that most learners across the world do not receive adequate career counseling. It was clear to me also that using the traditional approach to career counseling in relative isolation does not enable career counselors to address people’s career counseling needs properly. I have therefore dedicated most of my professional life to the design of an integrative8 QUALITATIVE-quantitative career counseling strategy to meet these needs—if only in my home country to begin with.

My mother was an English-speaking (Catholic) woman of Lebanese origin, while my father was of Afrikaans (Protestant) stock. Living in an almost exclusively Afrikaans environment at the height of apartheid, a member of one of many minority groups, I was almost “lost” in an intersectionality trap—it just never felt as if I really belonged to any group. Always an outsider, I felt “at home” among marginalized people and people with poverty in general. At the age of six, I and my family lived in a rented house in a little town called Holpan in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa where my father was the head of a very small primary school (the school did not have more than 30 learners in total). Some of the farmers grew grapes and employed black women to harvest the grapes. During that time, in the late afternoon, many of the women would walk down the road in front of our house with sizeable baskets on their heads. I was curious to find out whether the baskets were not hurting them and what they had inside those baskets. One afternoon, I waited next to the road until the women came past. I started walking next to one of them and put my questions to her. She smiled, stopped, put the basket down, and assured me that she was accustomed to carrying heavy “stuff” on her head. Then, to my surprise, she put her hand in the basket and took out two delicious bunches of grapes, which she presented to me. It did not seem right to accept the gift, and I tried to decline her offer, but she smilingly insisted and proceeded to hand me the two bunches of grapes. I thanked her and watched her turn around and walk away.

When I got home, I told my mother what had happened and offered her one bunch. In her gentle manner, she explained that while she understood why I had taken the grapes from a poor woman, it was far better to give than to receive. I still clearly remember her words: “This woman, like so many others, is really struggling to make ends meet. Giving you some of the little food she had is saddening but also inspiring. Tomorrow, we will prepare a parcel containing food and household goods you can give to her.” Even though my mother was running the household on a shoestring budget, she managed to put together a decent food parcel, which I handed to the same woman the next day. Her humble “thank you”, accompanied by her sense of gratitude, will always linger in my mind. To this day, I derive great satisfaction from giving whatever I can to people who have very little. Wherever I travelled during later stages of my life, I would notice and be drawn to impoverished people, for example beggars, male or female, black, white, brown, young or old, but also to people with any other form or disadvantage. Later, I learned about the reticular activating system (RAS) (Van Schneider, 2017). Stated briefly, the RAS takes what we focus on and creates a filter for it; for instance, if on any given day we decide to spot red cars while driving to work, we will succeed in seeing some. Likewise, if we focus on positive news about the future of work, we are likely to find reasons to be upbeat (and vice versa). That to some extent explained why I was and remain drawn to people experiencing major challenges in life; consciously and subconsciously noticing them and trying to find a way to improve their situation. Over time, I began to realize that every poverty-related challenge carried with it the opportunity to make a small contribution to a person in need. And each time any of us makes a difference in the life of a distressed person, we benefit as much from the “good deed” as the recipient of that deed.

1.6 My Personal Damascene Moment

At university, we were all trained to give career counseling in a positivist, quantitative, test-and-tell manner. During the early part of my career, I therefore practiced the way I was taught: “Testing” people and “telling” them what to do. However, even during that time, I was asked by the head of our department to develop an “individual workbook for career guidance investigation” (see Chap.  8), which contained multiple qualitative questions. The information obtained from the use of this “workbook” was subsequently used to gain insight into aspects of people’s personalities other than just the outcomes of career inventories in isolation. Later, when teaching honors and master’s degree students about the theory underlying the Jung Personality Questionnaire (JPQ) (1983) (Hall, Halstead, & Taylor, 1986a, 1986b) and showing them how actually to administer the questionnaire, it struck me that testees’ responses to the fourth basic preference pair of type theory (Martin, 1995) did not make sense. (Testees’ preferences are indicated on four dichotomous scales, namely (a) extraversion (E) versus introversion (I); (b) sensing (S) versus intuition (I); (c) thinking (T) versus feeling (F); and (d) judging (J) versus perceiving (P).) I accordingly suggested that the students should carefully (re-)consider all their clients’ responses to the fourth basic preference pair responses. All their clinical observations and other information should be considered when they interpreted the JPQ profiles. Then, in 1993, I attended a course on the administration of the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (Martin, 1995), which was a turning point in my career. I noticed a serious error on the JPQ answer sheet, which had been used in South Africa for more than 40 years. The fourth basic preference pair recorded on the answer sheet (J versus P) should be anchored by the J (or judging) on the left and P (or perceiving) on the right. Instead it read: P (left) and J (right). An inattentive typist had made a serious typing mistake many years previously.

Misleading information had thus been given to people for more than 40 years. I brought the error to the attention of the test distributors, who eventually made the correction. However, sadly, many psychologists are still using the incorrect version of the answer sheet. To appreciate the seriousness of the oversight, readers should note that this questionnaire was used to select prospective medical and engineering students at some tertiary institutions in South Africa.

That was the turning point in my life as a career counseling lecturer, researcher, and practitioner. Never again would I allow myself to be coerced into accepting an approach that did not make proper sense to me. Noticing the mistake, soon afterwards, I was privileged to read the 1993 article “Career counseling in the post-modern era” of Mark Savickas, my personal and all-time role model. After its publication, career counseling would never be the same again. In it, Savickas (1993) stated that present-day career counseling is characterized by numerous innovations. Above all, Savickas argued that people are the sole experts (authorities) on themselves. They are thus the main sources of trustworthy, valid, and reliable (authoritative) information on themselves and their life stories (the profiling of which can uncover a great deal about their psychological DNA/psychological fingerprinting).

Instead of plotting clients on the normal curve of “average” traits, it is our job as career counselors to empower them by encouraging them to compare themselves with themselves only. We need also to show a genuine interest in them and elicit their unique life stories irrespective of how their traits “compare with” other people’s traits. This assertion is consistent with McAdams’s (1997) observation that “[i]f you want to know me, then you must know my story, for my story defines who I am. And if I want to know myself, to gain insight into the meaning of my own life, then I, too, must come to know my own story” (p. 11). Eliciting people’s stories comprises a universal methodology and intervention to enhance understanding and promote reflection, reflexivity,9 and forward movement. Reflection involves contemplating one’s past experiences (including one’s earliest memories), emotions, and cognitions to connect the past with the present, while reflexivity involves thinking processes that presume dynamic self-conscious assessment of one’s conscious knowledge to uncover psychologically healthier ways of self-construction (Guichard, 2009) and career construction (Savickas, 2015a, 2015b) in the future. All of this is brought about by connecting the past, the present, and the future prospectively. Once people’s stories have been elicited, and narrativizing of the stories has concluded, the personal stories of trauma remain and call for our intervention. We then help10 people rewrite their idiosyncratic stories and turn them into living stories (Boje, 2008). Boje (2008) explains that living stories enhance the restorying of people’s past narratives. He adds that a “living story has many authors and as a collective force has a life of its own. We live in living stories” (p. 338). We as career counselors act as co-authors and co-facilitators of clients’ career-life stories and help them articulate their careers through stories. Themes and patterns as well as tensions in their stories and storylines are pointed out, and they (the clients) are helped to script the next chapters in their stories. All the way through, we highlight the trio of roles that clients assume, namely the roles of clients as social actors, as motivated agents, and as autobiographical authors (McAdams, 1993, 2013; Savickas, 2016a, 2016b). Seen from this perspective, career choices reflect profoundly personal predispositions that stem from people’s uniqueness and matchlessness. Where an integrative QUALITATIVE-quantitative approach is followed, the process of career counseling prioritizes people’s stories instead of their “scores” in “objective” tests. People’s central life themes add meaning to their career interest patterns and are integrated with their “measured” interests and abilities.

My sole concern since those early days has been the best interests of my clients, and I believe that an integrative QUALITATIVE-quantitative11 approach to career counseling-related challenges best serves those interests. The usefulness of narrative approaches to career counseling has been widely reported in publications across the world over the past three decades (McIlveen, 2012; McIlveen & Patton, 2007). People consistently report their experience of the strategy as respectful and helpful. For these and other reasons, I decided that I would in the future only in the rarest of instances consider the use of any quantitative approach on its own during research. Instead, wherever possible, I would use an integrative (qualitative-quantitative) approach. In certain cases, though, I might use a qualitative or narrative approach on its own (see Chap.  10).

1.7 What the Book Sets Out to Achieve

This book sets out to show readers how to connect career counseling history and best practices with contemporary models and methods in a way that gives them insight into the theory underlying an innovative, integrative qualitative-quantitative approach to career counseling. I also elaborate on the development of two career counseling instruments, both specifically designed to promote the integrative approach and facilitate career counseling in individual and group contexts. While the Career Interest Profile (CIP) (Maree, 2017a, 2017b) emphasizes storytelling, the Maree Career Matrix (MCM) (2016) draws on established approaches. I explain the need to provide context for career construction counseling as it enhances career counselors’ ability to help clients uncover, understand, and interpret their key life themes. In addition, it promotes clients’ understanding of their areas for development (growth areas) and helps them identify (qualitatively) their career values and career interest patterns. It facilitates (quantitatively) an integrated assessment of clients’ self-estimates of their career interests and confidence in their aptitude to follow certain careers. This intervention strategy should enable career counselors to help clients identify, interpret, and draw on their central life themes, their areas for development, and their career values and link them to their self-estimates of their career interests and confidence in their aptitude to execute certain careers. The strategy also facilitates the triangulation and crystallization of clients’ scores and their life stories and explains their trio of roles as social actors, motivated agents, and autobiographical authors (McAdams, 2010; Savickas, 2019).

Three key ideas recur throughout the book. First, the idea of not dispensing “advice to clients—instead, enabling them to advise themselves. After all, we should not act as self-appointed experts or authorities on any other person. People should not be “actors” following a script written by others for them. Second, the idea of listening for instead of to people’s stories (Hartung, 2018; Savickas, 2019; Welty, 1998) to help them choose and construct careers and themselves, become adaptable and employable, shape their career identities, design purposeful lives, and make meaningful social contributions. Third, the idea of helping people connect what they know about themselves consciously with what they are aware of subconsciously. The book endeavors to promote career counselors’ ability to help clients “thrive” rather than merely “survive” in turbulent times. It confronts some of the main challenges posed by Work 4.0 but also foreshadows the imminent advent and impact of Work 5.0 on the workplace. It shows how narrative questionnaires that yield qualitative interest-related information and quantitative instruments can be used (individually and together) to integrate technological advances with career counseling practice to ensure “best practice” while promoting self-exploration and self-advising.

To summarize: In this book, I attempt to point out the usefulness and effectiveness of the postmodernist career construction approach and the strategies, techniques, and methods used to enhance career counseling in the 21st century. Grounded in self- and career construction principles and practices, the integrative strategy and concept I propose can facilitate critical reflection, reflection on reflection, reflexivity (which helps join insight and activity), innovation, action, and forward momentum in career counseling.

1.8 Outline of What Can Be Expected in the Book

This book is a response to global change and its impact on people’s career-lives. The frameworks and interventions discussed in the book deal with (but are not limited to) self- and career construction and life design counseling. The book also promotes the UNESCO goal of ensuring that career counseling is contextualized, that all people receive career counseling, and that sustainable decent work is accessible to everyone.

In Part 1, Chap.  1, I explain the rationale for the book and elaborate on its objectives. An overview is given of the essence of the book, namely how to integrate stories and scores in career counseling and how to help people connect what they (and we) know consciously with what they (and we) are aware of subconsciously to help them make meaning of their career-lives, find a sense of purpose, and (re-)discover a sense of hope for the future.

In Part 2, the focus shifts to a discussion of the book’s theoretical and conceptual framework. Chapter  2 discusses the pressing need for an innovative approach to career counseling as well as several personality theories that have influenced the development of career counseling theory and practice. Chapter  3 discusses career construction counseling, self-construction counseling, and life design counseling. The focus then shifts again to an integrative career counseling framework as the foundation for the implementation of integrative career (construction) counseling. Chapter  4 elaborates on the link between the four waves in career counseling, psychology, the global economy, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while fifth wave-related developments are also touched on. The four economic waves relate to the four helping models in career counseling; the attributes or traits of each wave are highlighted, and associated career interventions are explained. Here, too, I reflect briefly on fifth wave developments. The chapter builds on and links economic, industrial, psychology, and career counseling waves and highlights the various traits in each of the waves. The challenges and opportunities associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (or Work 4.0) are discussed, and a call is made for a balanced view of and approach to Work 4.0 developments. Also discussed is the need to re-invent career counseling in the 21st century to anticipate challenges and opportunities that may result from the Fifth Industrial Revolution (or Work 5.0).

Chapter  5 considers how innovation can be enhanced in career counseling by appropriately indigenizing and contextualizing (decontextualizing, recontextualizing, and co-contextualizing) career counseling theory and practice in contexts that differ from those where career counseling was originally conceptualized to promote its relevance and applicability and ensure the necessary rigor. Above all, the expert opinions of “local” people must be sought and considered. Chapter  6 reviews changes in the vocabulary of the career counseling discourse and how these changes are reflected in the changing of shop names by businesses (the economy) across the world. Whereas many Global North12 countries have accepted and embraced the need for a changed approach to career counseling and the changes in the world of work that have taken place globally over the past few decades, the same cannot be said of most Global South countries where the need for career counseling and the promotion of sustainable decent work is at its greatest. Chapter  7 accordingly considers the importance of promoting social justice (advocacy) (Butler, 2012; Ratts, 2009) and sustainable decent work for all. It considers also the need to provide career counseling for seriously disadvantaged people.

Part 3 moves from theorizing about matters relating to innovative assessment in career counseling to explicating the practical aspects of such counseling. Here, the emphasis is largely on two new career counseling instruments that can be used to elicit people’s “stories” and “scores”; help them craft their identity, value, or power statements; integrate their stories and scores to arrive at specific career choices; and, ultimately, help them draft their mission and vision statements. These instruments are the Career Interest Profile (CIP, version 6), a narrative questionnaire that yields qualitative interest-related information, and the Maree Career Matrix (MCM), which measures people’s (a) career interests and (b) self-estimates of confidence about their aptitude to follow certain careers. First, in Chap.  8, I explain how the CIP can be used to draw on and promote people’s universal propensity for storytelling. It has been designed to elicit, qualitatively, a sufficiently rich bouquet (formerly referred to as a representative sample) of people’s numerous micro- or “small” life stories to enable career counselors not only to enhance their understanding of their clients but, especially, to help their clients retain the momentum needed to bring about change and progress in their career-lives. Chapter  9 focuses on the elicitation of “scores” quantitatively with the help of the MCM. Following on this, in Chap.  10, I explain how people’s “scores” (obtained through the MCM) can be integrated with their “stories” (obtained through the CIP). I explain also that, while scores are useful in career choice, stories promote the notions of “meaning”, “mattering”, and “finding purpose”. The chapter shows how career counseling theorists, researchers, and practitioners can integrate paradigms in career counseling with actual career intervention practice.

In Part 4, Chap.  11, I use a broad array of individual and collective intervention case studies to demonstrate how integrative QUALITATIVE-quantitative career counseling intervention can promote innovation in career counseling in individual as well as group-based contexts across people’s life span and help people connect what they know about themselves consciously with what they are aware of subconsciously.

I have long maintained that career counseling was inspired and practiced by artists and entertainers long before we started building our theory from such practice. Part 5, Chap.  12, confirms Mark Savickas’ (2019) assertion that career counseling practice precedes theory, and not the other way around. Much of what we theorize about in career counseling has thus already been practiced by artists and entertainers. The chapter reflects the innovative nature of the book by focusing on the career-life of a rare living legend, Dolly Parton. This chapter shows how counseling for self- and career construction theory is built on practice, exemplified by the inspiring career-life story of Dolly Parton—a story that encapsulates the essence of what postmodern career counseling should be about.

Part 6 concludes the book. In the final chapter (Chap.  13), I review key aspects of the “storyline” of the book before discussing the “lens” or “prism” through which it should be read. I consider the key issue of whether it is advisable to continue using tests (in conjunction with qualitative assessment instruments) in career counseling. Conditions for the professional implementation of the integrative approach are discussed, and key aspects of the career counselor’s role in career counseling are examined and clarified before the chapter is concluded.

1.9 Summary

At the first level, the book is informed by the words (often attributed to Albert Einstein): “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Faced with mounting challenges in the occupational world, we, as career counselors, have to devise proactively innovative ways to remain useful and valuable to our clients by helping them do things that no longer work in a postmodern occupational environment in a new, changed way. To this end, the book draws on and develops Mark Savickas’ career construction counseling13 approach (2005) and, to a lesser extent, Jean Guichard’s (2009) self-construction approach, the life design group’s (Savickas et al., 2009) life design approach, and also related theoretical and conceptual approaches. At the second level, the book aims to help career counselors and their clients connect what clients know about themselves consciously with what they (clients) are aware of about themselves subconsciously. At the third level, it endeavors to direct these approaches towards further utility in individual and group contexts in Global North as well as Global South countries. At the fourth level, it shows how career counseling (counseling for self- and career construction) can be adapted and applied in a way that renews career counseling generally. At the fifth level, it shows how innovative counseling for self- and career construction can be used to bring about best practice in the profession. At the sixth level, it examines the career-life of Dolly Parton and demonstrates how her inspiring “story” encapsulates the essence of what postmodern career counseling is about. At the seventh level, the book sets out to show that career counseling can be exciting, creative, inspirational, and life-changing and can be used to help people across their life span experience meaning and purpose in their career-lives. Ultimately, though, the book fully supports Trull and Phares’ (2001) contention that career counselors’ primary allegiance in career counseling should be to find the best ways to help and be of value and use to their clients instead of adhering to any particular theoretical approach or technique—we have to stay abreast of global developments that impact our clients and consequently also our profession. The book also supports and illustrates the truth of Savickas’ (2009a, 2009b, 2009c, 2009d) assertion that theory follows practice, and not the other way around.


  1. 1.

    It is typical to refer to a person’s early recollections. During career construction counseling, however, career counselors often ask their clients to share their three earliest recollections with them.

  2. 2.

    I am aware of the view of some people that it is not always necessary or even advisable to elicit people’s most painful stories (Eramian & Denov, 2019). I respect this view; however, it does not fall within the scope of this book to debate the issue. Clearly, more research is needed on the subject.

  3. 3.

    Many Global South occupational contexts still resemble pyramidal hierarchies.

  4. 4.

    According to Hartung (P. J. Hartung, personal communication, October 21, 2019), human life consists of three domains, namely love (intimacy), work (including career), and friends (community, avocational interests, and relationships). Hartung contends that “life story” refers to the narrative about all three of these domains in general, and he uses the term “life-career story” to refer to the narrative about the work domain specifically. I agree but prefer the term “career-life story” to “life-career story”.

  5. 5.

    Feminine and masculine pronouns (she, he, her, him, hers, or his) should be regarded as interchangeable.

  6. 6.

    I acknowledge the different conceptualizations of “decent work” as a result of the reality of different socioeconomic and cultural contexts.

  7. 7.

    I agree with Canham and Langa’s (2017) view that “We do not [subscribe to] the tradition of ‘giving voice to the voiceless’. It is not possible or desirable to speak on behalf of the other” (p. 6).

  8. 8.

    Given the nature of the CIP and the MCM, my design almost inevitably comprises a mixed-methods (QUALITATIVE + quantitative) (uppercase denoting the greater weight given to the qualitative part of the design) assessment and intervention design. The “+” is used to indicate that qualitative and quantitative data are gathered simultaneously. For the sake of convenience, though, from here on, I use the term “QUALITATIVE-quantitative” to denote my design.

  9. 9.

    Reflexivity develops narratability and biographicity and promotes clarification and co-construction of people’s life stories (Maree, 2013a; M. L. Savickas, personal communication, July 26, 2018).

  10. 10.

    I am aware that using the word “help” in a career counseling context may be seen as maintaining the “power” discourse (positioning counselors in a powerful position in relation to clients) instead of promoting the idea of a collaborative counseling partnership. However, in my opinion, it is what actually happens during the intervention that defines this relationship; hence my consistent emphasizing of the importance of establishing an atmosphere of mutual trust, respect, and collaboration.

  11. 11.

    For instance, QUALITATIVE-quantitative, QUALITATIVE + quantitative, as well as QUALITATIVE → quantitative approaches (Ivankova, Creswell, & Plano Clark, 2019).

  12. 12.

    The terms “Global North” and “Global South” are used interchangeably with the terms “developed countries” and “developing and underdeveloped countries” respectively in this book.

  13. 13.

    I use the terms “counseling for self- and career construction” and “career construction counseling” interchangeably in this book. The approach that I advocate when using the CIP and the MCM emphasizes the importance of both self- and career construction; hence the title of the book.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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