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All About Counseling
What is a career counselor?
What do career counselors do?
What training and credentials do career counselors have?
How can I find a career counselor?
What do career counseling clients have the right to expect?
What are my responsibilities as a client of career counseling?

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What is a Career Counselor?
Career counselors hold a graduate degree in counseling with a specialization in career counseling. Services of career counselors differ, depending on the counselor's level of competence, the setting,client needs, and other factors. National Certified Career Counselors, Registered Professional Career Counselors, and other professional career counselors help people make and carry out decisions and plans related to life/career directions.


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What do Career Counselors do?
Strategies and techniques of professional career counselors are tailored to the specific needs of the person seeking help. It is likely that the career counselor will do one or more of the following:

    • Conduct individual and group counseling sessions to help clarify life/career goals
    • Administer and interpret tests and inventories to assess abilities, interests, and so forth, and to identify career options
    • Encourage exploratory activities through assignments and planning experiences
    • Utilize career planning systems and occupational information systems to help individuals better understand the world of work
    • Provide opportunities for improving decision-making skills
    • Assist in developing individualized career plans
    • Teach job hunting strategies and skills and assist in the development of resumes
    • Help resolve potential personal conflicts on the job through practice in human relations skills
    • Assist in understanding the integration of work and other life roles
    • Provide support for persons experiencing job stress, job loss, and/or career transition

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What training and credentials do career counselors have?
The designation "National Certified Career Counselor" signifies that the career counselor has achieved the highest certification in the profession. Furthermore, it means that the Career Counselor has:

    • Earned a graduate degree in counseling or a related professional field from a regionally accredited institution,
    • Completed supervised counseling experience which included career counseling,
    • Acquired a minimum of three years of full-time career development work experience,
    • Successfully completed a knowledge-based certification examination,

Professional career counselors may also be trained in a one-or two-year graduate level counselor preparation program with a specialty in career counseling. They may be licensed by state counselor licensure boards or certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors.


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How can I find a career counselor?
A listing of National Certified Career Counselors in your state may be obtained from:

National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
3-D Terrace Way
Greensboro, NC 27403
(800) 398-5389

Many states have counselor licensure laws and state boards that oversee this licensing process. Check your local phone directory under state government or check with your public library for the address and phone number of your state counselor licensing board. You may contact them for a list of licensed counselors or to check the credentials of a specific counselor.

Use the telephone yellow pages. Check under career counseling. As you scan names, check to see if they describe their credentials in the yellow page ad. When you call, ask these types of questions:

    Are you a National Certified Career Counselor?
    Are you licensed to practice counseling in this state?
    Are you a member of a national or state career counseling professional association?
    What special training do you have in the area of career?

Ask friends and family for the names of career counselors with whom they have worked.

Check with your local library to find lists of career services in educational and community agencies such as colleges, community colleges, public school adult education programs, state employment service, vocational rehabilitation, or special career services.


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What do career counseling clients have the right to expect?
You may ask career counselors for a detailed explanation of services, fees, time commitments, and a copy of their ethical guidelines. Select a counselor who is professionally trained, who specifies fees and services upon request, and who lets you choose the services you desire. Make certain you can terminate the services at any time, paying only for services rendered. Career counseling requires the expertise of a trained professional. Be wary of services that promise you more money, quick promotions, or guaranteed resumes. Career issues are usually complex and require a multifaceted approach by a career counselor who has extensive education, training, and experience. Be skeptical of services that make promises of more money, better jobs, resumes that get speedy results, or an immediate solution to career problems. Professional career counselors are expected to follow the ethical guidelines of organizations such as the National Career Development Association, the National Board for Certified Counselors, and the American Counseling Association. Professional codes of ethics advise against grandiose guarantees and promises, exorbitant fees, breaches of confidentiality, and related matters of misconduct. You may wish to ask for a detailed explanation of services offered, your financial and time commitments, and a copy of the ethical guidelines used by the career counselor or service you are considering.

Ask any counselor you are considering for a detailed explanation of services (career counseling, assessment, employment search strategy planning, resume writing, and so forth). Make sure you understand the services, your degree of involvement, and your financial commitment.


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What are my responsibilities as a client of career counseling?

    • Set and keep appointments with your counselor. Let him/her know as soon as possible if you cannot keep an appointment.
    • Pay your fees in accordance with the schedule you pre-established with the counselor.
    • Help plan your goals.
    • Follow through with agreed-upon goals.
    • Keep your counselor informed of your progress toward meeting your goals.
    • Terminate your counseling relationship before entering into arrangements with another counselor.

The material on this page has been reprinted with permission of the
National Career Development Association (NCDA)

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