Differences between Clients and Non-Clients and a Comparison of Two Vocational Counseling Procedures

James R. Holmes (Ph.D., 1975)

Thesis directed by Associate Professor Peter G. Ossorio

A conceptual formulation of vocational decision making was delineated and operationalized by using it to develop and test hypotheses regarding (a) the differences between college students who seek vocational counseling and college students who have selected a vocation without counseling and (b) the relative effectiveness of two vocational counseling procedures with respect to achieving a number of the goals of vocational counseling.

Taking steps to enter a vocation involves making a status claim and some form of self-presentation. That is, in selecting and taking steps to enter a vocation, X, a person is claiming that he is or could be eligible to become an X. Moreover, in order to become an X a person will have to engage in some sort of self-presentation in order to become a candidate for accreditation as an X. College students who request vocational counseling may be so uncertain of their vocational identity that they are not prepared to claim eligibility for any vocational status other than their present status of being undecided or noncommittal. Vocational clients may also have a deficit in their ability to engage in self-presentations and, therefore, may not be able to implement vocational decisions. It was predicted that college students who requested vocational counseling would be less certain of their vocational identity and less able to successfully engage in self-presentations than students who have been able to make vocational decisions without counseling. The results of the client/non-client comparisons were in the predicted direction and statistically significant.

A group counseling procedure which was designed to enable vocational clients to become better prepared and able to participate in vocational decision making was then developed. The group procedure provided the clients with a description of what is involved in making a vocational decision and an opportunity to engage in a series of guided fantasies and self-presentation exercises. The results achieved through the use of the group counseling procedure were compared with the results achieved through the use of a traditional test feedback procedure and a no-treatment procedure.

The results of the outcome study indicate that the group counseling procedure was more effective than the traditional counseling procedure or the no-treatment procedure in terms of the number of clients who either made a vocational decision or were able to treat the issue of making a vocational decision in such a way that it was no longer a problem for them. The group counseling procedure was also more effective in terms of increasing the clients' (a) certainty regarding their vocational identity, (b) ability to successfully engage in self-presentation, (c) understanding of what is involved in making a vocational decision, and (d) confidence in their ability to identify and plan out on their own vocationally related behaviors. None of the counseling procedures had any effect on the clients' grade point average at least within the relatively short (one-month) follow-up period used in the present study. Vocational clients were also asked to assess their personality type and vocational interests prior to taking the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory and the clients' assessments were compared with the assessments obtained from the interest test. In general, there was a high degree of correspondence between the clients' assessments and their test results suggesting that vocational clients may not be lacking the kind of factual information regarding their personality characteristics and interests that is usually obtained from a standard interest inventory. [264 pp.]