Selecting a career path that is both effective and satisfying is one of the most important decisions a person makes in their entire life. However, young people are facing this choice at a time when their self-understanding and awareness of the world of work is very meagre. In the best-case scenario, adolescents discuss these issues with their parents who can help them move through the decision process and provide them with important information. Yet it is often difficult for parents to understand the specific personal qualities of their child and to match them with viable occupations. This important decision requires a process which involves self-analysis, formulation of personal values and goals, realization of educational and professional requirements and an all-around analysis of specific careers that have been suggested based on the above information.
Figuring out a career path early on has become increasingly important. Parents are turning to career counselling services for their teens, sometimes as young as 14, to help give their kids a career reality check and to figure out which academic areas they should focus on.
Tough economic times, the rapidly changing job market, and the skyrocketing cost of post-secondary education has put pressure on many parents to help their kids figure out career goals, so they do not waste their time and money on education program that might not suit them.
There are many options today for career counselling. One can get some basic career advice from a school’s guidance counsellor, online from a career counselling website such careerpath.com, from an individual assessment with a professional career counselling coach, or from a comprehensive assessment conducted by a psychologist. Some of these options are free, while others are relatively expensive. For example, a full career assessment by a psychologist costs anywhere between $800 and $1500. However, psychological assessments are often covered by extended medical insurance plans. Even if these amounts aren’t covered by your insurance, this may be the best investment you ever make in your own or your child’s future, just consider the cost of post-secondary education and wasted income in case you make the wrong choice.
The goal of career assessment is not to choose one specific profession but rather to identify two or three general areas and to highlight the educational path that leads to each of them. This usually creates a sense of purpose and confidence as people can now visualize their future and the roads that lead to it. Most people report an increased feeling of ownership and self-efficacy following career counselling.
Despite the increased attention to career education in our schools, we find that adolescents are very poorly informed about the world of work and have little understanding of how to create a viable career plan for themselves. This often leads to anxiety, confusion, and avoidance of all efforts to deal with the issue when it is approached by parents.
The most effective career counselling approach is the one that integrates information obtained from formal psychological tests with in-depth individual interviews with the counsellor. The formal testing must include a measure of the student’s aptitudes for different types of learning or a test of cognitive ability, a formal assessment of their personality, and an occupational interest survey. An in-depth discussion with the psychologist or counsellor allows the student to make sense of the information obtained through formal testing and to analyze the suggested choices. We believe that the student’s unique personality, their special gifts and talents, as well as their interests and aspirations should be the starting point. Through this process of self-exploration, students become active participants in planning their future, and together with the counsellor, they begin to understand how their unique profiles map to the range of today’s professions and occupations. You can read here about the comprehensive career counselling system that we use in our center. Psychological assessment-based career counselling services can be provided by psychologists, professional career counsellors, and social workers trained to provide such services.