Career counselling includes open conversations, active listening, understanding child’s motivations, aspirations
A teacher, a confidant, and an advisor, a career counsellor wears many hats. Career counselling, as the very name suggests, aims at helping a child address issues associated with the vocational aspects of his or her life. A common predicament of career counselling is that a child’s personal circumstances like family support (or lack thereof) can often spill over into their career decisions.
Career counselling has two important functions – a knowledge-oriented function providing information about careers and selection of courses and a relationship-oriented function- the act of providing guidance and building of trust, leading to exploration in a supportive environment for self-understanding towards the goal of career exploration. Working with a counsellor can be an incredibly positive experience, giving children an edge as they make their way through the myriad demands of academics and its relation to the world of careers. It provides a safe space for them to reflect on their values, allowing them to manoeuvre peer pressure and family circumstances and make choices reflective of their interests and alignment. Early sessions explore the history and behaviour of the child to help them understand their own motivations and desires more thoroughly. An understanding of the child’s peer and familial pressures, along with a familiarity with current events and culture, allows counsellors to make contact and build trust with the child. It involves creating a safe, secure and non-judgmental environment to put the child at ease. This is absolutely critical because effective counselling needs two-way communication and open sharing. This assurance of safety goes a long way in cementing the relationship with the counsellor.
The process of counselling includes open conversations, active listening, and understanding the child’s motivations and aspirations. This empowers them to participate fully in the process of making career choices which itself is a form of self-discovery as young minds make decisions about their place in the world. The multitude of choices and opportunities available today, the pressure to follow parent’s wishes, the influence of peers, popular current trends and social status, and the desire to follow one’s career compass—all these factors can leave a young teen feeling overwhelmed and confused. Added to this are the constantly shifting social, economic, cultural, technological, and environmental realities that make predicting the future fairly difficult. The lack of career counselling for our future generations is more a social issue than an academic one. Making informed career choices in a safe environment can make all the difference between a life lived with purpose and one with future adults wallowing in confusion and unhappiness.
Fortunately, children today are more at an advantage than not. Schools are slowly recognising the need to make this an integral function, with trained career counsellors evaluating and understanding a students’ personality, interest, abilities, and skills, and using this to suggest the best-fit career options, working with them to address their challenges, provide insights and boost their confidence, and offering a platform for self-exploration. However, effective counselling also requires parents to be involved in the process and being open to suggestions made. They need to play an active role in the child’s development by working with the career counsellor to aid the decision-making process, instil a mature outlook, set the right expectations, and encourage the pursuit of ambitions and interests.
While there is a long way to go, there is hope. An early kick start can help children establish a firm foundation and give them enough time to experiment, explore, and discover things about themselves that will eventually help them in their career journey.
The author Academic Head, IC3 Institute
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