11/01/2003

Career Development Interventions in the 21st Century by Spencer G. Niles and JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey

Book Review by Peter Manzi

Book Review

Career Development Interventions in the 21st Century Spencer G. Niles and JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey, 2002, New Jersey: Merrill Prentice-Hall, 458 pages, Price: ( $44.25) ISBN: 0-13-927146-5


Although there are a number of established and multi-edition career development textbooks available to counselor educators, I have always found it necessary to supplement them with other books and periodicals. It seemed that no single text could stand as the foundation for a career development course. When I learned of this book, I had high expectations for it to meet such a goal. The two authors are accomplished scholars, educators, and figures in the career development field. They have provided outstanding leadership in various roles throughout their National Career Development Association memberships. Their book promised to usher in the new millennium of career development interventions, and closely followed the 2001 CACREP Standards for a career development course.

The book delivers on its promise in both expected and unexpected ways. It contains 15 chapters and an appendix of ethical guidelines (ACA and NCDA), an educational and career planning portfolio and a list of NCDA career counseling competencies. Chapter 1 provides solid recognition of the history of the profession, which formally began in 1913 as the National Vocational Guidance Association and also includes an introduction to career counseling competency statements. Chapter 2 discusses major initial theories of career development. Holland's theory of types and person-environment interactions is well represented as is Krumboltz's learning theory of career counseling. The discussion of Super's contributions to the field is well organized, and though he passed away in 1994, his influence is still seen in contemporary research and practice. In Chapters 1 and 2, more discussion of the meaning of work and the evolution of the work ethic, including representation from sociological models, would have strengthened the text.

Chapter 3 covers emerging theories, such as Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), the Cognitive Information Processing (CIP) approach, Brown's Values Based approach, and Post-Modern approaches, among others. Chapters 2 and 3 present these theories and models with clarity, conciseness, and the apt goal of applying them to practice. Chapter 4 is focused on the career development of "diverse populations," eschewing the negative and misleading term "minority," and is inclusive of gender, GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered persons) and disability issues. Diversity is also discussed throughout the book. For educators who strongly advocate multicultural counseling competencies, this pervasive treatment of cultural contextual factors is welcome. Perhaps in future editions, this could be amplified by greater discussion of vocational research on diverse people within each chapter.

Chapters 5 and 6 discuss career counseling strategies and techniques and traditional and non-traditional assessment tools, respectively, in career planning, underscoring the text's practitioner orientation. It has been my experience as an educator that career development is most cogent, not as theories or concepts, but as an intervention, where students actually "practice it." Chapter 7 presents a comprehensive and detailed examination of career information resources in an appealing manner, a real feat, given the dry subject. An outstanding discussion of the use of technology in career planning and counseling follows in Chapter 8. This is not surprising given that Dr. Harris-Bowlsbey co-authored (first) two books on technology in career development for NCDA and helped pioneer one of the first and most enduring computer assisted-career guidance systems, Discover.

The book has other practical and scholarly virtues. There is a stimulating discussion of ethical issues in career development interventions in Chapter 14, which is very useful for the practicum or internship student. This is more useful than presenting professional and ethical issues in a separate course replete with hypothetical cases.

The book discusses career interventions in developmentally distinct settings: elementary school (Chapter 10), middle & high school (Chapter 11), higher education (Chapter 12), and in community settings (Chapter 13). This organization enables counselors to locate career development needs and strategies by developmental periods, or by the settings where counselors work, facilitating the career transitions young people make across settings.

An additional strength is the emphasis placed on designing and implementing career development programs and services (Chapter 9) and the related need for evaluation (Chapter 15). To justify and validate the wide spectrum of career development interventions, as well as other comprehensive programming, such as Missouri's K-12 Comprehensive Guidance Program, it is necessary to evaluate them at all levels of service delivery, inclusive of individual, group, institutional, and organizational outcomes. The book uses substantive and up-to-date citations in each chapter's reference list, although the authors may wish to expand this list in subsequent editions. It is written in a clear, engaging, and pedagogical manner, using diagrams, charts and figures to illustrate key concepts. The book also uses case approaches to illustrate concepts and to facilitate the ecological validity of the issues and problems facing career counselors. The cases are dynamic, didactic devices for instructors and supervisors of interns or counselors.

The text and publisher provides additional Web based resources for instructors and students. There is a very extensive instructor's manual, which includes a suggested presentation outline for each chapter, discussion questions, multiple choice and essay questions, and Powerpoint slides. The book has a master web site, www.prenhall.com/niles with several capabilities: instructors can post the syllabus; students can read an overview of chapters and take practice quizzes; students can access suggested web sites within chapters; can communicate with each other; and instructors can communicate with each other.

Initial student reactions to the text and web site supplements has been extremely positive in a career development course that began in August. They have found it highly readable and relevant. In summary, this book is an excellent resource for counselor educators and graduate teaching assistants; moreover, it would be a valuable "edition" to the library of any career development professional.

Review by Peter Manzi Ed. D., NCC, NCCC, MCC, CDFI is a career consultant, adjunct professor, and Chair of the NCDA PR Committee, 2000-04. He can be contacted at parmcede@hotmail.com


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