Expectations and experiences of career counselling : an exploration of interpersonal behaviour

Abstract: The overall purpose of this thesis is to describe and analyse interpersonal behaviour in career counselling sessions. The importance of the relationship in counselling for the outcome of sessions has been acknowledged in earlier research. How the actual interaction process between client and career counsellor looks like has been sparsely investigated. The present research explores expected, experienced behaviours and self-image of 15 adolescent clients’ and counsellors’ dyads in career counselling. The research was guided by interpersonal theory and the model of structural analysis of social behaviour (SASB) developed by Lorna Smith Benjamin. The research focuses on four different aspect of interpersonal behaviour. First, the significance of different behaviours by the clients and the career counsellors related to session evaluation. Second, the significance of expected and experienced similarity in perceptions of self and other behaviours related to session evaluation. Third, differences of perceived behaviours and possible influence by self-image over the course of sessions and fourth, comparing the influence of positive and negative self-image to expected and experienced behaviours, perceived important events during session and session evaluation session by clients’. Results indicate the importance for clients to become close to the career counsellor in session, while the career counsellors’ encouragement of clients’ independency during sessions showed to be of less importance for the clients’. This pattern imply a difficult balance act for career counsellors between providing a safe and close relationship and promoting independence and exploration for the clients. Further, it was found that career counsellors had difficulties in identifying their own contributions to a positive session evaluation, indicating a problem for the career counsellors’ to make conscious adjustments of behaviours. The degree to which client and career counsellor agreed of their behaviours only mattered for experiences of the career counsellors’ behaviour when related to their evaluation of session. Only minor tendencies of influence by the career counsellors’ self-image of clients’ perceived differences in behaviours were found. Self-image played a significant role in how the clients’ expected and experienced behaviours, perceived important events in session and in their session evaluation. Clients’ with positive self-image showed consistently more positive perceptions on each of the involved variables.