Wednesday, 13 April 2022

A culturally appropriate career model

Much of the career practice research is based on the societally dominant ethno-cultural groups such as white, Anglo-Saxon men (Leong & Marsella, 1995). If we are working with these groups, then when applying assessments we need no further depth of understanding than the norms we have access to from the standard test administration. 

However, if a client is grounded in a different culture, then we will need to understand the influence that this may have on their career choices. Understanding the client's cultural 'variables' includes the client’s ethnic identity, their socio-economic status, their gender, the expectations of their family (if that is a factor) and any family responsibilities, their languages or dialects, and any other important relationship factors (Flores et al., 2003; Osborn & Zunker, 2016). 

To lay a foundation which helps us to collect culturally relevant information so we can build appropriate client engagement, Flores et al have formalised a culturally appropriate career assessment model (2003). The Flores et al. model consists of four interrelated steps which helps us to understand an ethnic community, as follows (2003):

  1. Culturally Encompassing Information Gathering: first we establish the practice relationship. We ensure that the client is relaxed and comfortable. We accept and adopt the client's views. We establish the dimensions of the client's lifestyle, and we specify the client's needs.
  2. Culturally Appropriate Selection of Instruments: the practitioner needs to consider - with regard to the proposed assessment - norms; reliability, and validity. Further, we need to consider cultural validity and cultural specificity in validating assessment effectiveness. Cultural validity is about the relevance of the assessment for the cultural group; cultural specificity refers to the cultural variables mentioned in paragraph two above.
  3. Culturally Appropriate Administration: in this area we need to ensure that the client is not anxious; that they are comfortable using any required technology; that their literacy will allow them to interpret and to answer the questions; and how much family involvement does the client want to have. 
  4. Culturally Appropriate Interpretation of Assessment Data: In this step we need to integrate the client's culture into the assessment data interpretation. We need to be aware of our own personal bias. And we need to consult with other culturally competent practitioners to double-check our interpretation is accurate and meaningful.

This is a very helpful model when working with clients from a range of different backgrounds, assisting us to better take a more holistic approach to client engagement.



  • Flores, L.Y., Spanierman, L.B., Obasi, E.M., (2003).. Ethical and professional issues in career assessment with diverse racial and ethnic groups. Journal of Career Assessment, 11(1), 76-95.
  • Marsella, A. J., & Leong, F. T. (1995). Cross-cultural issues in personality and career assessment. Journal of Career Assessment, 3(2), 202-218.
  • Osborn, D. S., & Zunker, V. G. (2016). Using assessment results for career development (9th ed.). Cengage Learning. 
* Colleen McArthur kindly prepared the material for this post

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