Narrative Career Counselling

Career counselling is a term that subsumes a variety of diverse activities.  Here, the qualities and activities of narrative career counselling are highlighted.

Core Features of Narrative Career Counselling:

  • emphasises subjectivity and meaning;
  • faciliates self-reflection and elaboration of self-concepts toward an enhanced self-understanding that is subjectively and contextually truthful;
  • is a collaborative process in which the client is supported while creating an open-ended personal story that holistically describes his or her life and career; and,
  • produces a story which enables the client to make meaningfully informed career decisions and actions.

Story and Storying

Developing meaning and identity is the objective and work of narrative career counselling.  Specifically, narrative career counselling aims to assist a person to develop and redevelop his or her story especially in relation to learning and working.  In this way, there is the content (i.e., the story) and the process (i.e., storying).

Emotional Narrative

In narrative career counselling, a client’s feelings are brought into the frame of discussion.  The affective characteristics of a story are neither emphasised nor diminished; feelings are positioned within the story itself and are used as indicators of the story’s truthfulness for the person.

Action-Oriented Narrative

Despite its orientation to language and speech, a narrative career counselling does not diminish the centrality of individual action and agency in context.  The work of narrative career counselling involves development of the story so that it may inform the client’s career decisions and, moreover, career-related actions which contribute to a person’s adaptation to circumstances.

Co-Construction

Narrative career counselling is a meaning-making process through which the client creates his or her life story with the assistance of a co-creator: the counsellor. The active presence of the counsellor, through his or her co-author or editor role, is the hallmark of narrative career counselling.

Narrative career counselling continues to flourish in the field. As practitioners  develop and refin their application of narrative career counselling, ACCELL’s researchers continue to develop a conceptual model that explains its processes and outcomes, and to build an evidence-base that enhances its utility.


This blog article in an extract from:

McIlveen, P., & Patton, W. (2007). Narrative career counselling: Theory and exemplars of practice. Australian Psychologist, 42(3), 226-235. doi: 10.1080/00050060701405592

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