Motivational Career Counselling and Coaching: Cognitive and Behavourial Approaches – Steve Sheward and Rhena Branch


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Sheward and Branch have produced a very comprehensive guide for Career Counsellors. Chapter one introduces the reader to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and how it can be used to enhance career counselling sessions. There are many CBT exercises that the authors explain step-by-step to careers advisors to assist them in coaching their clients. I found this book to be very informative and although I have had a considerable amount of exposure to CBT techniques this book still offered so much learning for me.

Chapter one sets the foundation for the rest of the book. I found myself returning to chapter one over and over again as I read this book. The sections on flawed thinking patterns, ABC Model, helpful and unhelpful negative emotions, ABCDE Model and Socratic Questioning is gold dust for career counsellors. Learning how to identify these emotions and thinking patterns, and using these techniques skilfully are powerful tools for those working in the area of careers. These skills form the basis for the rest of the CBT models used throughout the book. Sheward and Branch refer back to the basis of CBT throughout the chapters; looking at the client’s situation and their thoughts, feelings, behaviour and physiology in response to the situation is a really reflective process for clients and can trigger action towards goals. The thoughts, feelings, behaviour and physiology cycle is referred to throughout the chapters. Sheward and Branch show on several occasions through use of client examples how they use this cycle to shed light on the client’s situation. The Cost and Benefits analysis is also used on several occasions to inspire action or help a client to make a decision. Sheward and Branch again give several client examples of this exercise to display to the reader how the exercise can be worthwhile and an enlightening exercise for clients.

How to succeed in interview, decision making, career counselling in the workplace, working with unemployed clients and career counselling in education are the main themes discussed in the book.  Each section is given detailed attention and provides career counsellors with plenty of ideas and exercises. There are many scripted examples of how the careers models were used in real counselling sessions. I thought these scripted examples were really useful in illustrating how the exercises should be used. The information in this book is so dense, almost every page required reflection, and as a result I found I needed to re-read several of the chapters in this book up to three times to absorb the teaching and learning. Most of the exercises are available to download from Sage Publications. I feel that I would need these worksheets to assist me in working through the exercises, at least for the first few times.

Using the CBT approach could be intimidating for a counsellor inexperienced in the area. However I would like to think that the rewards of the process would outweigh the initial discomfort in trying a new approach.  With repeated use of exercises a confident and experienced counsellor could work through these techniques seamlessly and be able to use them adeptly to enhance counselling sessions.  Guidance counsellors, life coaches, career coaches would benefit from dipping into ‘Motivational Career Counselling and Coaching.’ The CBT exercises could prove to be a valuable resource for anyone working in the areas of careers.

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