My Philosophy & Approach
Finding Meaningful Connection & Direction in Work Life
I believe there is a blueprint inside each of us for what we might do in this world. If it isn’t clear already, it may need to be dusted off, explored and developed in a hands-on way and shared. Reflecting on personal and professional interests, values, traits, strengths, skills, background, learning goals, personality and preferred work settings provides insight into who we are: what matters to us, where we belong in the community and greater world, and what we might like to do for employment. This is the purpose of career assessment: to provide structure and exercises that help you learn more about yourself as a first step to finding meaningful direction.
To uncover these personal truths and live them out, we need to feel safe and supported. We need to know that we and our ideas are not too weird, complicated, unworthy or unimportant. I counsel people to recognize and concretely support the notions they have about what they want to do and what they want to explore.
Breaking things down into steps and stages helps tremendously. Along with learning to take action on your tentative ideas, planning and list-making can help you set up short-term situations to kick off a transition and get you unstuck. We don’t typically answer our questions about work life all at one. We may need some time to work on our long-term possibilities and envision a series of steps to get to our goals if they are to occur. Working with a career counselor can help you envision these steps and stages, and broaden your view of what’s possible.
Given a decent effort on our part and the interconnections between us all, it often happens that one person’s deeper interests and values give rise to work that helps others in a special way and makes the world a better place. It’s my goal to promote this positive, human-inspired and very real ripple effect.
Getting Unstuck: Blending Personal & Career Counseling
We can get stuck at times, while figuring it all out. It’s not uncommon to experience a barrier to self-knowing or to knowing what we want. Or, once ideas are more clear, we may procrastinate. Then there’s the transition process itself. As a society, we’re still steeped in old paradigms and rigid thinking about work life, decision making, job search and business creation: attitudes based in scarcity models from the Great Depression. Add to that a mechanistic view of ourselves and work life from the Industrial Revolution that hinders creativity and limits exploration. Seeing that lives and work paths emerge in steps and stages, in a way that is more organic than clock-like, is helpful to most people. William Bridges’ work on life and career transition is central to my approach.
My clients are often dealing with change or a disruption to family and/or work life. They are new parents needing to find a better job fit and increase earnings. They are experiencing negative office politics. They are stressed to the max navigating the school-to-work transition and learning to live on their own. They identify as queer and wonder what that means for job search and a healthy work culture connection. They are questioning a marriage, but are concerned about how to support themselves and what will happen to their family. They are at mid-life needing to go back to school in order to get a better job. They want to advance but are not sure which way to go, given life-work balance considerations. They are considering self-employment. They are contemplating how to make retirement/semi-retirement meaningful, or how to end social isolation. Maybe they have a health or mental health issue.
I have found that blending personal counseling and psychotherapy with career counseling helps people more deeply understand what they want and need during a life and career transition. Almost all of us have something that gets in the way occasionally, something that makes it hard to clearly see who we are and how to act for the benefit of ourselves and others. Addressing depression, anxiety, lack of self confidence, ADD/ADHD and other mental health challenges helps to remove barriers to identifying what's important and acting on that knowledge.
Incorporating psychotherapy also helps with understanding and dealing with the overwhelm that often accompanies crisis and change around work. Family-of-origin issues showing up in difficulties at work and other types of challenges can shade our hopes for the work life transition itself, impacting our sense of choice and hindering our ability to define and pursue our goals. Coming to understand one's personal challenges allows us to better address stubborn values conflicts, bad lay-off experiences, ongoing job stress, burnout and the effects of toxic workplaces. Looking at how you are doing with identified challenges like lack of clarity, perfectionism, or barriers to self-confidence makes it possible to take charge and spin the story your way.
Strengthened by reflection and personal healing alongside career development exercises, a stronger and clearer self emerges and takes greater and more targeted action. From the beginning, it’s made practical sense to incorporate supportive counseling to facilitate the process of getting clear about what to do next career-wise, and it’s made a positive difference for my clients. I deeply appreciate the complex issues that we all face. Even though career satisfaction is more valued in our culture than it once was, it can still be difficult to navigate the process of self-understanding and discovery. We want the answers all at once! Once people have a map of the career change process and how it dovetails with personal transition, the path ahead starts to make sense and begins to feel doable.
Please call or email me to set up a free phone consultation or schedule your first appointment.