Group Career Counseling: Practices and Principles (2nd Edition), by K. Richard Pyle and Seth C.W. Hayden. 2015. National Career Development Association. Broken Arrow, OK. 62 pages.
Group Career Counseling: Practices and Principles (2nd Edition), is a comprehensive group career counseling book that career services professionals can adapt to their practice and work settings. It illustrates a perspective that encompasses several facets of the group process, and provides useful information on how it can be beneficial in assisting individuals with their career development. The book offers insight into how we can apply the Group Career Counseling (GCC) technique effectively and provides a unique perspective to the career development field.
The book consists of the following sections:
1) The What and Why of Group Career Counseling
2) Principles of Group Career Counseling
3) A Group Career Counseling Program Example
4) Settings and Strategies for Using Group Career Counseling
5) The Use of Groups in Career Development
6) Theoretical Foundations
The authors did an excellent job providing the groundwork for this book. The Group Career Counseling program example is the highlight of this book for several reasons. First and foremost, it describes how the leader is supposed to stimulate and facilitate the group through the use of the script provided. Second, it provides a script that is helpful in guiding the group process, and the authors point out that the script could be tailored and restructured to develop one’s own GCC program. Third, GCC program is based on the integration of theory and group counseling principles. Last, the authors provided well thought-out group career counseling exercises in the GCC example. For instance,
One exercise that stands out is the “cool seat” exercise. The idea is to bombard the individual who is selected to be in the “cool seat” with occupations that come to mind. The occupations that are called out are based on what the group members already know about the individual. A strengths bombardment exercise is another exercise that could be implemented. Gaining self-awareness is one of the primary goals of group career counseling and this feedback technique, and can be powerful in a group career counseling session.
The four group stages (Encounter, Exploration, Working, and Action) provide an excellent framework for the group leaders and members’ expectation during the Group Career Counseling program. I especially like how the authors highlighted what the group members could be feeling and thinking during each stage of the group process. The skills to be applied by the leader at each stage (i.e., questioning, confrontation, self-disclosure, feedback, etc.) are also highlighted and very important to making the group process meaningful for each member.
The authors highlight the educational and community settings where the Group Career Counseling program could be utilized. For example, the GCC could be applied to elementary, middle, high schools, universities, and business and religious settings. I would also feel confident in applying it when teaching a career development course. While career development courses typically have more group members than the recommended four to eight (Corey, 2012), I believe it could be used effectively if the instructor develops a relationship with the students and engages them at the beginning of the course.
Career Theory Applied to GCC
The final chapter provides a thorough explanation of the various counseling and career development theories and discusses how the GCC is related to each. While the Cognitive Information Processing (CIP; Sampson, Reardon, Peterson & Lenz, 2004) approach was the main theoretical orientation integrated into the GCC example, other theoretical perspectives could be applied to make this program more comprehensive. My personal suggestion would be to apply the Life Rainbow and add existential theory to the Cognitive Information Processing approach. Applying Super’s Life Rainbow (1985) would be effective in assisting group members to examine their life roles and how they would impact their career decisions. Adding existential theory (Frankl, 1984) would allow group members to explore the questions about meaning and help them to find meaning in their chosen occupations. An eclectic approach potentially might be the most effective to the GCC program; however, the downside would be the time factor.
Little Room for Improvement
Despite the book’s many strengths, one area for potential improvement was the discussion of stereotypes. If our goal as career professionals is to break down stereotypes and broaden one’s thinking, then it might be beneficial to introduce the topic early on in the Group Career Counseling program. The first mention of stereotypes is in Session Two during the Working Stage. The discussion on stereotypes might be more appropriate to include in Session One during the Exploration Stage when the group members are asked to guess which job is the most positive or negative for each member and why. This could allow for an in-depth discussion on gender roles and why we are programmed to have certain biases when making judgements about others. By having this discussion in the Exploration Stage, it could set the groundwork for the Working Stage as group members are reviewing their assessment results.
Group Career Counseling: Practices and Principles (2nd Edition) is a remarkable publication that has made a significant enhancement to the career development field. The authors did an excellent job bridging the gap in the literature. The book is worth taking the time to read. It provides a creative approach to conducting group career counseling that we can all benefit from in our practice and work settings. It will certainly be a great addition to my personal library!
Corey, G. (2012). Theory and practice of group counseling (8th ed.) Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy (3rd Ed). New
York: Simon & Shuster.
Sampson, J. P., Reardon, R. C., Peterson, G. W., & Lenz, J.G. (2004). Career Counseling and services: A
Cognitive information processing approach. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Super, D. E. (1985). New dimensions in adult vocational and career counseling. Columbus, OH: Ohio
State University Center on Education.
This NCDA monograph is available for purchase in the Career Resource Store.
Jessica Caolo, Ph.D., is currently an Associate Director of Career Development at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL. She received her PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision from Virginia Tech in 2014, and her MS/EdS in Counseling & Human Systems (with a specialization in Career & School Counseling) from the Florida State University in 2005. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.