Among many other theories, the most appealing theory was the Person-in-Environment perspective. Unlike other career counseling theories, the person-in-environment perspective encounters and looks at an individual’s environment and his or her sociocultural interactions and relationships. In the textbook, the author describe this theory as focusing on contextual interaction over the life span (Zunker, 2015).
As counselors, we acknowledge that every individual is different and unique not only because they live in a different household, but because on top of genetic differences, all environmental influences affect individuals in its own ways resulting in different perspectives and worldviews. So as the person-in-environment perspective says this same idea in career counseling perspective. Since I believe that in order to help someone in any circumstances whether that is in counseling or not, it is important to look at the whole picture of the person, which means not focusing on the individual or the problem only.
In his book, Zunker wrote that, “The ecological systems perspective provides the counselor with the opportunity to view all aspects of a person as a whole” (p. 61). This quote clearly shows the reason why I chose this particular theory over other theories. Its comprehensive and inclusive nature, it allows career counselors to help clients in more understanding and curios manner by knowing the person’s ecosystem. In essence, the reason why we need to understand one’s ecosystem is because, “human behavior can be understood only in the context in which it occurs” (Zunker, 2015, p. 3).
Furthermore, if we know the client’s ecosystems, it could be easier to provide how to find vocational resources in every array of a job search pool and in more practical and applicable ways. After looking at the individual’s ecosystem to unearth where he or she is coming from with presenting problems for help, the person-in-environment perspective asks career counselors to employ a career construction theory. An introduction of a constructivism is absolutely reasonable path.
Since we have looked at the client’s ecosystems, now we need to figure out the interactions and relationships of his ecosystems and its influences on him. The construction theory captures the nature of people that is making their own perspectives and worldviews to understand environmental interactions and events, and those are the personal constructs (Zunker, 2015). The personal constructs are not fixed because the life changes all the time; thus, people constantly modify their sets of personal constructs according to their new life events and experiences (Zunker, 2015).
The construction theory does not stop here. It goes beyond understanding one’s personal constructs, it connects the sets of personal constructs to a developmental contextualism and a vocational development. This is what I most endorse about the career construction theory is that helps clients to learn how to construct a career path along with the progress to discover one’s vocational self-concept and a meaningful life. Nowadays, countless numbers of people prioritize their job over themselves due to many different reasons such as a parental pressure, monetary reasons, a peer pressure, etc.
When people choose their career paths without considering their inner constructs that gives meaning to their life roles, many problem could arise from it. Hence, via participating the developmental tasks within vocational development stages, the client is guided to form the foundation for a greater self-understanding and vocational identity (Zunker, 2015). Besides the person-in-environment perspective, the Trait-Oriented theory seems to be the right and safe choice to use. According to Zunker (2015), the Trait-and-Factor theory is the most durable of all career counseling theories.
In fact, in my opinion, it makes most sense to use this theory only if the client is confused and does not know where to begin with. In this case, the counselor could provide some standardized assessments and based on the result, the occupational recommendation could be made. Therefore, this theory would be most useful for adolescent and young adult individuals who seek for a vocational guidance. However, as the author mentioned in his book, the trait-and-factor theory focuses are too narrow that it is hard to recognize it as a career development theory (Zunker, 2015).
Similar to the trait-and-factor theory, other trait-oriented theories such as the Person-Environment-Correspondence theory and Holland’s typology lack the ability to discuss the changes and fluctuations in the current job market. Whereas, the person-in-environment perspective is able to reflect on what is currently happening in the job market today. Another career development theory to consider is the Cognitive Information Processing theory. This theory approaches in terms of how individuals make a career decisions and use information in career problem solving and decision making (Zunker, 015).
The cognitive information processing theory’s main focus is to provide skill developing tools thus the client will develop capabilities to solve career problems (Zunker, 2015). This can be a great tool to use when the client wants more hands-on guidance on their specific problems. Overall, it seems like that I keep coming back to the logic of the person-in-environment perspective to follow the process of the career development and vocational guidance.
In specific, when a client comes into the session to seek help in the process of finding the right job for himself, it may be reasonable to start by providing the trait-oriented theories’ assessments. However, after initial assessments, I would like to interview the client and find out his vocational expectations. By doing so, I think that discovery of a personal background and his ecosystem is unavoidable. Even though it is not intentional, I determine that one’s vocational expectations are based on his worldviews, which are greatly influenced by his environment.