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AaronEngelCasual Photo Sep 27, 2021

Rethinking the Role of Career Counseling

In myBlog9-27 graduate class on career counseling, we focused primarily on how to help people identify their interests and skills, look at the job market, and write resumes. All those things are essential for someone looking for a job and I see many career counselors focusing on those tasks. However, I believe there can be so much more to career counseling. This blog identifies additional areas that may be important when helping clients with career-related issues.

          I worked for a couple of years as a career coach before starting as a counselor and, during that time, found  that approximately 90% of my clients were either seeing a counselor for anxiety or needed a referral for one. I have found similar results in my counseling practice. Many career issues seem to stem from anxiety regarding the possibility of failure or fear of the unknown. Many clients hate their jobs and desperately want out but worry that the next job could worsen circumstances. Clients may generally like their career choice and company but are at their wits’ end because of a conflict with a co-worker or leader. Some counselors have told me that career counseling isn't really counseling, but I have to disagree. People may spend most of their waking lives at their job, getting ready for their job, and traveling to their job. Hence, a career is a big part of many people's lives. Someone else's primary career may be raising kids, in which the job never ends.

          Career struggles can stem from indecision that is also rooted in anxiety. A treatment such as CBT can help allow clients to see whether their thoughts are realistic and helpful. A client may need to take a broader look at their life purpose that extends beyond a job. What is their primary motivation? What are their values? What do they want people to say about them after they die? Are clients living intentionally through their work to follow their purpose? For example, if spending time with family is the most important thing, does a client have a job that requires them to work 80 hours a week?

          Career counseling can improve resumes, teach interviewing skills, identify what the job market looks like, and help with other tasks explicitly geared toward a career. However, one may need to take a step back and look at the client's entire life and how a career fits into their defined purpose. Career counseling can indeed center on understanding emotions and helping to process anxiety related to potential change.

Aaron Engel is a professional counselor in Columbus, OH. He works primarily with couples and individuals wanting help with depression, anxiety, and career concerns. As a private practice owner, Aaron strives to provide excellent care with every aspect of the counseling experience. Learn more about him and the services he provides at


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