Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Moving from what to why

In career practice there is a tricky balance between task and relationship. 

As career practitioners, getting stuck into "Doin' the do" (Clarkson, 1990), can be sooo seductive. It is easy, we can see an immediate gain, and we feel we have been efficient . A bit like a doctor prescribing for a patient, we got a result for the client and they have left the office with something concrete.

We want information. We want delivery of a thing. The transaction is routine. It is all in the now. Things may be 'done to' the client. The client can be passive in the process, and the career practitioner does the doing. It is the "what" of career practice.

However, I have come to realise over the years that the real mahi in career practice is in digging into the "why" for my client. It is harder, there is usually nothing to see immediately, but it is sticky. If we get the grounding - the turangawaewae - right for the client, then everything else "runs, like a river to the sea" (1987).

This is mahi which changes both of us as actors in the process. It is centered on the client. It is about relationships. It is visionary, but visionary in the hands of the client: the service is not 'done to' them, but is done BY them. It is future-focused. The career practitioner waits to see where the client will lead.

The expert 'deliverer' approach to career practice is sometimes an expectation for secondary school students, but, "[t]he older the young adults are, especially [women], the more their ideas about counselling match with the method of client-centred counselling" (Paszkowska-Rogacz, 2008, p. 122).

So not only do counsellors become more relationship-focused as we age, but so too do our clients. 

Growing together :-)



  • Clarkson, A. M. (1990). Doin' the Do [Recorded by Betty Boo]. On Boomania [CD]. UK: Warner Brothers.
  • Paszkowska-Rogacz, A. (2008). Predictors of client expectations from career counselling. Ergonomia: An International Journal of Ergonomics and Human Factors, 30(2), 119-133.
  • U2 & Bono (1987). One Tree Hill [Recorded by U2]. On The Joshua Tree [LP]. Dublin: Island Records.

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