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4 Questions 4 Edwin L. Herr on Counseling and America's Economic Recovery
Question: Considering the current times, how can counseling and counselors contribute to the economic recovery of our nation?
In order to make a major contribution to economic recovery, I think that counselors must be increasingly immersed in the language of change: the reorganization of work; the use of advanced technology in the work place and in the counseling setting; the importance of lifelong learning; the effects of globalization and the role of international competition on the creation of new jobs and the elimination of many traditional jobs; corporate environments that increasingly use outsourcing, off-shoring, and the extensive use of part-time workers tied to production cycles; the emphasis on non-human processes of productivity (advanced technology, robots, computer driven machinery, etc.) and the importance of labor surpluses and skill shortages. Each of these and other dynamics constitute the context that workers must deal with in the future and must understand. Obviously, counselors, too, must understand the language of change and how it affects individual workers.
Counselors also must be alert to the expectations that clients, employers, policy-makers and others have of them. For example, two very old but important terms that both counselors and clients need to understand are frictional unemployment and structural unemployment. Frictional unemployment concerns how long one is unemployed, how that time between jobs could be reduced, and what strategies a worker should use (e.g. networking) to pursue work. Structural unemployment addresses the reality that a client's skills and those required by the jobs they are pursuing do not match. In such cases, the skills the client has are not elastic or transportable from job to job. Therefore, the client is either in need of retraining to acquire the skills necessary in the work desired or seek another career path in which the skills possessed are compatible.
Question: What must counselors know about the American worker and workplace?
One is that in the United States and other nations, career paths have been changed, many have been eliminated, others have been created as a function of advanced technology, outsourcing, and changes in the organization of work. Many of these new career paths require new skills. The new status quo for workers is characterized as continuous learning and feeling continuously on the edge, off balance. Thus, being prepared to adjust, to adapt, to the frequent transformations in the workplace are ongoing factors in the lives of workers in which the global economy is shaping and reshaping the organization of work and how it is done.
But, having said this, the changes in the workplace and the processes by which work is done has affected individual career development in many nations and many organizations. The paths to and through the careers of many workers is no longer linear, predictable, long-term, and secure. The availability of life-long employment in one firm, one corporation, one occupation, or one job is very unlikely even though a generation ago many workers expected such a career pattern. They hoped to obtain employment in an organization, advance through the ranks and retire. The phases of such a pattern—exploration, preparation, induction, consolidation, advancement and retirement—were age-related, understood, and anticipated. That view of career development is significantly less likely to occur in a rapidly changing global economy where one's career development will be shorter, more fragmented, more abrupt, more mobile, more spontaneous, more values oriented, more influenced by environmental and organizational flux, unpredictability, and turbulence.
Question: What differences do you see in the needs of clients?
I see several perspectives merging here. One is that counseling about work is likely to require a fusion of career counseling and personal counseling. Many workers coming to counselors will do so out of anger and confusion. While they will likely need to examine the implications of structural or frictional unemployment, and its meaning to them, they will also need to consider their emotions about losing their job. Before trying to negotiate new career paths, counselors will need to help them answer questions like why did I lose my job? Why me? What could I have done differently? Why don't I fit into this workplace anymore? This means that in the new work place, with its frequent transition and change, new sets of skills are often needed. These are not just technical or job skills. They are called by some authors Protean career skills. These skills accent the importance of individuals being able to constantly adapt to change, being personally flexible, and taking personal responsibility for their careers. In addition, workers are expected to plan and engage in lifelong learning, their anticipation of and preparation for trends potentially affecting their career development, rather than expecting employers to create and be responsible for the individual workers' career development.
Another scenario reflects the reality that a world-wide labor surplus, consisting of many well-educated and trained persons for whom there are not adequate opportunities to work in their own nation, raises the level of competition for any given worker. Within the global labor surplus, there is almost an unlimited supply of industrious and educated workers willing to work at a fraction of U.S. wages. These persons naturally gravitate to the economic opportunities available in the U.S., intensifying immigration at a level, even with visa controls, similar to that which occurred 100 years ago at the height of the industrial revolution. They also add to the competition for jobs, heighten the anxiety about who will be employed, and raise questions about the fairness of who is hired. Thus, career counseling and personal counseling, together and separate, must be used with clients trying to understand their employment status, their needed skill development, and their emotions related to the uncertainty of the opportunities for the work they seek.;
A further scenario has to do with the work of the counselor. In an era of professional counselors dealing with a wide-range of clients seeking employment and work adjustment, it important to note that counseling is an umbrella term. Career counseling is almost always embedded in a program of supplementary activities, which augments or goes beyond the one-to-one interaction of a counselor and a client. Career counseling may involve a comprehensive program that includes such elements as anger management, support groups, communication skills, job search skills, the use of simulation and gaming, use of computer databases of potential employers and other forms of information, how to manage one's career development, and how to cope with change. Career counseling also may involve use of referrals, job shadowing, information interviews with employers, and other sources of recommendations for employment.
Finally, there is the issue of Human Capital Investment. It is important for counselors to know this term and use it with clients when appropriate. At a national or organizational level, human capital may mean the numbers and types of skilled, educated people available to do the work of the nation. At an individual level, it is important for the counselor and the client to consider that each person possesses his or her own Human Capital and the possibility to invest it. Thus, at the individual level, Human Capital can be identified by its elements: for example, ability, behavior, effort, and time. Each of these sets of behavior can be managed and used by the client as an investment in their job. Each can be analyzed and discussed with the counselor in terms of how much each of these behaviors is being used by the client? How much is not being used? What are the obstacles to being the most effective worker possible? What is the expected return on investment? What are they seeking from work (e.g. prestige, amount of income, interesting work)? Each of these elements of Human Capital Investment can and should be a target of intervention; clearly these elements underlie individual motivation and tie together performance, behavior and skill investment, and clarity of client understanding about how to frame one's commitment to work.
Question: How will counseling and counseling make a difference?
There is no easy answer to how counselors and counseling can contribute to the economic recovery of the nation. Research tells us that each of the techniques mentioned here have been found to be effective. The problem then is one of capacity. There needs to be enough trained, skilled, and available counselors to create and deliver programs that address workers who need different kinds of job-seeking assistance, including counseling. An alternative approach is to do what some one stop centers and other employment services are doing. Basically, they have set up "triage" processes by which they can classify new clients into those who can work on their own to examine available information, those who can work within support or information groups to learn about job seeking processes, and, third, those who really need one-to-one counseling. In the first two groups, the use of counselor time is minimal and, thus, saved for clients who really need direct interaction with the counselor.
Such an approach saves the time of counselors to work with people who really do not need to be counseled, but need other services. This approach adds to capacity time without adding more counselors to the staff. In such creative ways, more counseling can be available and more persons served.
Counselors are committed to helping each person seeking work to find it, to strengthen their job skills, and to learn the importance of personal flexibility. Ultimately, in their understanding of change in the workplace and their assistance to displaced workers in applying the skills related to change, each counselor and counseling contributes to the economic recovery of the nation.
Dr. Edwin L. Herr has served as president of ACA, ACES, and NCDA. Dr. Herr's accomplishments as a teacher, author, researcher, and administrator at The Pennsylvania State University are a model for aspiring counselor educators and academic administrators. Today, he holds the rank of Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education and Associate Dean Emeritus at Penn State where he also is the co-director of the Center for the Study of Career Development and Public Policy.
New 2010 State-by-State Licensure Requirements Report Available
Counseling students and others heading in varied geographic directions will find this new ACA report a valuable tool. How do state counseling laws compare? What states require a jurisprudence exam? How many continuing education credits does each state require for licensure? Which states have reciprocity? These and other licensure questions are answered in the newly revised Licensure Requirements for Professional Counselors: A State-by-State Report.
The 2010 edition covers the new California law, details the requirements to be a clinical supervisor in each state, and provides updates to all contact information, fees, renewal requirements, scope of practice information, and more.
Order #: 72903
Worth Reading: The Threat of Technology to the University
An op-ed piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2009 presents an interesting comparison of two American institutions, the newspaper and the university. To quote Kevin Carey: "Newspapers are dying. Are universities next?" The article, archived on the website of the Education Sector, discusses the threats of technology to those in the business of creating and communicating information. The author shares his thoughts on how higher education can learn from the mistakes made by newspapers and maybe divert the threat.
Conference Clipping for Counselor Educators: ACES Lunch and More
In addition to the more than 125 programs (68 Advanced Level) in the category Counselor Education and Supervision, counselor educators may wish to attend three other special events. Tickets are still available for the ACES Luncheon that will be held during the ACA 2010 Conference & Exposition, March 18-22 in Pittsburgh. The Luncheon is at the Westin on Sunday, March 21, 12 noon to 2pm and tickets are $40. The ACES Graduate Student Coffee Reception, a free social event developed for graduate students who are on the counselor educator track, will be held Sunday from 3:30 to 5pm at the Westin. The Pennsylvania Branch of ACES will meet Friday, March 19, 9am to 10am at the Westin.
Not yet registered for the Conference? The Advance rate is in effect until Friday, February 19, but you can still register online after that date. Go to
Contribute Spring Syllabus to the ACA-ACES Clearinghouse
The ACA-ACES Syllabus is very popular. How popular you ask? Well, since its inception one year ago, the Clearinghouse has received approximately 10,000 visits, has more than 300 syllabi posted, and represents professional sharing at its finest.
A new feature allows contributing professors to identify recommended texts, making the site even more of a one-stop shop for help and inspiration in developing counselor education syllabi. It also offers authors an excellent opportunity to showcase their textbooks.
If you have a new or revised syllabus for the spring semester, you can submit it to the Clearinghouse by visiting:
Direct any syllabus questions or feedback to Vicki Cooper, ACA Librarian, at email@example.com or 800-347-6647, ext.281.
Sign of the Times: Textbook Rental Growing in Popularity
Rent vs. purchasing is a decision that more and more students are going to be making as the popularity of textbook renting grows in American higher education. Recent stories in Inside Higher Ed and the Dallas Morning News call attention to the phenomenon and the reasons the strategy is growing in popularity.
Reliable Resource: Ethics Codes for 100 Helping Professions
Should you ever encounter a student who is curious as to how the ACA Code of Ethics compares with the codes of other helping professions, a visit to
New Textbooks from ACA
ACA has published two new textbooks that counselor educators should consider for their classrooms and personal professional reading:
ACA Advocacy Competencies: A Social Justice Framework for Counselors
Experts discuss how counselors, counselor educators, and students can use the ideals in the ACA Advocacy Competencies with diverse client populations, across various counseling settings, and in multiple specialty areas. Examples in each chapter provide guidance as to when individual empowerment counseling is sufficient or when situations call for advocacy on behalf of clients or their communities within the public arena or political domain. Thought provoking and engaging, this book is an invaluable resource for teaching and course work and a call for all counselors to participate in social justice and systems change.
2010 | 264 pgs
The Professional Counselor: Portfolio, Competencies, Performance Guidelines, and Assessment, Fourth Edition
Student learner outcomes and counselor work behaviors are tied to the 2009 CACREP Standards in this long-standing premiere handbook for students, educators, supervisors, researchers, and practitioners seeking to quickly and efficiently update, refresh, or evaluate their knowledge of and skills in the most important competencies in counseling. Ideal for use as a student portfolio or a supplementary text, this fourth edition of The Professional Counselor continues a 35-year tradition of providing a useful framework for tracking individual professional growth and evaluation. This edition affords baseline and progress data supporting a systematic developmental plan, assessment, and charting of each student's or professional's progress toward developing professional counseling competencies.
2010 | 244 pgs
The Working Professor: Job Sharing Mixes Scholarship and Family
The current millennium has born witness to a variety of innovations in work structures and occupational relationships, including telecommuting and flexible scheduling to name just two. Workplace accommodations, however, are nothing new to Alice and Randall Shrock, two historians profiled in a recent Inside Higher Ed story. The Shrocks' have been sharing a professorial position at Earlham University in Richmond, IN, since 1964, splitting the teaching duties and compensation of one position, working together on research initiatives, and most importantly to them---raising their daughters. The Shrocks' credit Earlham's institutional flexibility as the key to the success of their 36-year experience.
Do you have a faculty position you would like to fill? Interview candidates in Pittsburgh!
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
Quotable Quotes of Notable People: William Glasser on Learning
William Glasser, M.D., educator and counseling theorist
ACA Podcast Series Grows to 17 Programs
First introduced in 2008, the ACA Podcast Series has grown to 17 programs that help ACA members keep informed on the issues of the day and learn from professionals who have established reputations as practitioners, teachers, authors and researchers. Prerecorded and posted on the ACA website, these podcasts (45 minutes to an hour in length) can be downloaded to your computer for convenient listening and for personal and classroom playback:
Direct questions and feedback about the ACA Podcast Series to Rebecca Daniel-Burke at email@example.com. Watch for new programs throughout 2010.
Inside JCD: Spring Edition Articles of Interest to Counselor Educators
The spring, 2010 edition of ACA's Journal of Counseling & Development (JCD) contains a number of articles that may be of particular interest to counselor educators.
A Typology of Burnout in Professional Counselors
Content Analysis of the Journal of Counseling & Development:
Criteria of Nonacademic Characteristics Used to Evaluate and Retain Community Counseling Students
Metaphor as Instrument for Orchestrating Change in Counselor Training and the Counseling Process
Client Outcomes Across Counselor Training Level Within a Multitiered Supervision Model
The Unstructured Clinical Interview
Watch your mailbox in March for the spring issue.
CGS and ETS Create Commission on the Future of Graduate Education
Representatives from higher education and the private sector have been chosen to serve on the Commission on the Future of Graduate Education by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Educational Testing Service. The Commission will study how the graduate education community will meet the challenges of the 21st century, focusing attention on maintaining the preeminence of U.S. graduate schools in the face of rising global competitiveness. The first report on the status of graduate education will be released at CGS's annual legislative conference in April 2010.
About ACAeNews for Counselor Educators
ACAeNews for Counselor Educators is one of four new electronic newsletters that are published three times each year each by the American Counseling Association for the benefit of members working in these unique settings. It is disseminated as an opt-in subscription enewsletter and is a free benefit of ACA membership.
The other three special focus enewsletters are:
Any reference to a product, service or activity or listing of a web site in this publication does not imply endorsement by ACA. Any views and opinions are those of the sponsoring organization and may or may not be shared by ACA.
Direct comments, questions and submissions to Frank Burtnett. All submissions will be subject to review by ACA for accuracy, timeliness and relevance to the readership and may be edited.
Lynn E. Linde, President
Richard Yep, CAE, Executive Director
Debra Bass, Director of Marketing and Communications
Frank Burtnett, NCC, NCCC, ACAeNews Editor
Don Kenneally, Internet Development / Production
ACA Website: www.counseling.org
Copyright 2010, American Counseling Association, 5999 Stevenson Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Telephone: 703/823-9800. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce anything contained in this newsletter as long as the American Counseling Association is identified as the original source of the information.
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