07/01/2007

Group Career Counseling: Practices and Principles

Book Review by Cassandra P. Smisson

K. Richard Pyle, Group Career Counseling: Practices and Principles, NCDA, 2007. Foreword by JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey.

Group counseling provides an opportunity for small groups of individuals to meet and share common concerns, explore personal issues, and learn new skills under the facilitation of group leaders. Group counseling has become an accepted and commonly utilized medium for eliciting client change during the past 50 years or so. Additionally, it is a medium by which more clients can receive assistance in less time, making it a more cost-effective approach than individual counseling. While much has been written about group counseling, there is very little literature on group career counseling. The limited research that is available, however, indicates that group career interventions have similar or greater effects than other types of career interventions. Dr. Richard Pyle has written the brief monograph Group Career Counseling: Practices and Principles to address the gap in the group career counseling literature.

Dr. Pyle's monograph is a distinctive resource in that it explores group career counseling as a unique intervention with its own principles and properties. It is appropriate for counselors, paraprofessionals, and counselor educators at the undergraduate and graduate levels in psychological intervention. With over 25 years of experience as an administrator, psychologist, and professor in public schools, higher education, and the United States Peace Corps, Pyle uses his extensive knowledge and experience in group career counseling to convey the following information to his readers:

  • Differences between group career counseling and group counseling
  • Strategies specific to group career counseling
  • Differences and similarities between group career counseling and other group approaches designed to facilitate career development (e.g., group guidance, career workshops)
  • Developmental stages and skills exclusive to group career counseling
  • Applicable settings for group career counseling
  • What a group career counseling program looks like
  • Principles and strategies for implementing a group career counseling program

After comparing and contrasting different group approaches, Pyle contends that group career counseling is different from other group interventions because, unlike group counseling or group career guidance, group career counseling assists in individualizing and processing both internal information (e.g., cognitions, emotions) and external information (e.g., occupational information, assessments). Pyle provides connections between counseling practice and theory by comparing the objectives of group career counseling to several commonly used theoretical orientations, including psychoanalytic, Adlerian, existential, person-centered, Gestalt, transactional analysis, behavioral, rational-emotive, and reality therapy.

"Pyle's building of an infrastructure of theory ad research around a time-tested model of practice fleshes out the concept of group career counseling and adds an important piece to the career development body of knowledge." 

-- JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey, NCDA Past President

 

One of the strongest aspects of Pyle's monograph is its applied nature, with one of the chapters providing a framework for the group career counseling model. He provides an overview of an example group program, as well as detailed and specific information on procedures. Pyle even provides a script for the practitioner to utilize, which could be especially helpful for counselors-in-training or practitioners who are new to group career counseling. Organizations and individuals who provide career services may find a great deal of utility in this particular chapter, not only as a resource for planning and facilitating client participation, but also as a training tool for counselors who would like to lead career counseling groups. Pyle concludes the monograph with an epilogue of career counseling in "the information age." It is interesting to read Pyle's perspective as a practitioner who has witnessed many changes in the field throughout the years, on how group career counseling fits into this age of technology. Pyle states that evidence exists that career counseling as an art form is being lost due to the impact of technology. He also states, however, that in this age of information, counselors are needed more than ever to play an important role in personalizing and processing information for clients.

The conciseness of the monograph (44 pages) enables readers to efficiently find information without inundating them with extraneous material unrelated to the topic of interest. The monograph may not be an appropriate resource for someone who wants to learn about general group counseling processes and dynamics; however, it is a useful supplement for someone who has foundational information on groups and wants to learn about the uses and facilitation of a career counseling group.

The organization of this resource was unique in that the theories and uses of group career counseling were toward the end rather than used as a base upon which readers can build. A key topic that could have been more thoroughly addressed is that of assessment. Pyle briefly discusses self-assessment and interest inventories, but it would have been helpful to provide more information about how assessment can be utilized in the career group experience. Dr. Pyle's monograph is an easy, yet interesting, read that is written from the perspective of an experienced and knowledgeable practitioner. It provides valuable information on the effective, yet underutilized, intervention of group career counseling.


Cassandra P. Smisson, M.S., is a doctoral student in the combined doctoral program in Counseling Psychology and School Psychology at Florida State University, as well as a Career Advisor at Florida State University's Career Center. She received her Master's at Georgia Southern University in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Psychology and her Bachelor's from Clemson University in Psychology. Cassandra can be reached at cassandra.smisson@med.fsu.edu.

Group Career Counseling is available in the NCDA online Career Resource Store .


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