Therapy FAQ

What Is Career Counseling and Does it Work?

Feeling lost in your career journey? You’re not alone. Career counseling offers valuable guidance, whether you’re starting out, transitioning, or seeking fulfillment. From resume help to job search strategies, discover how counseling can shape your path. Find specialized counselors at Grow Therapy.

jocelyn moyet grow therapy By Jocelyn Moyet, LMHC

Updated on May 01, 2024

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When we’re young, we spend our time dreaming up what we “want to be when we grow up.” We might flit from dream job to dream job in our minds: teacher, pilot, doctor, lawyer, singer, engineer, sports player — the list is endless. But as we get older, knowing what we want to do with our careers doesn’t seem quite as easy. In fact, sometimes it’s very difficult to know which direction to take and how to do so.

Or, maybe we find ourselves in jobs or careers that we don’t feel are serving us in the right way or we don’t feel fulfilled. We might be left wondering what to do next. This is where career counseling comes in.

In a 2021 survey by the National Career Development Association, 85% of Americans said that career professionals provide valuable assistance, 29% said that they wanted career assistance with resume writing and interviewing skills, and 27% indicated that they wanted help with job search strategies. So, if you feel like you need some support to make the next career move, you’re not alone! 

Here, we talk to our very own Grow Therapy counselors about what career counseling is, when you should seek it, and how it can benefit you. 

Career Counseling 101 

Melissa Galica, a licensed professional counselor with Grow Therapy, describes career counseling as “a specialized form of guidance that centers around helping individuals strategize their income-generating activities.” 

Whether you’re an employee, self-employed, or just graduating, “career counseling is valuable for individuals at any stage of their career journey. It can offer guidance, support, and clarity for those who are transitioning, seeking personal and professional development, or desiring a change in their work lives. Career counseling is not limited to a particular age group or those who have faced setbacks but encompasses a broader range of individuals looking to navigate their career paths more effectively,” says Galica. 

But what exactly does career counseling entail? Let our experts give you the rundown. 

What is Career Counseling?

Career counseling is a service where a person meets with a therapist, career counselor, or career coach, and works with them to discover how to start, change, develop or pivot their career. 

It can also be for people who don’t know what to do with their skills and passions, and would like a mentor to help guide them to make the best career decisions. Sometimes it can be hard to think objectively about your own career, so having someone from the outside giving their professional input can be of great help. 

Galica goes on to say, “It’s important to recognize that not every career follows a linear path, where obtaining a specific training or degree leads directly to a predetermined job. For instance, becoming a K-12 librarian typically requires a master’s degree and two years of classroom experience, highlighting the complexity and diversity within different professions. Additionally, some individuals with counseling degrees may excel in mental health policymaking without actively practicing therapy, demonstrating alternative avenues within a specific field.”

How Career Counseling Works

What a person can expect from their career counseling sessions will vary from provider to provider. Kristian Wilson, a licensed professional counselor with Grow Therapy who also specializes in career counseling, gives us an idea of what sessions might look like should someone choose to have career counseling.

What a person gets from their career counseling sessions really depends on what they want from them and the work they put in. You may not know what you want to do with your career,  but you might have a good idea of what you don’t want — and this can be a great starting point for your sessions. 

Who Offers Career Counseling? 

Career counselors can be people who have a master’s degree in counseling or social work, or they can be therapists, social workers, or life coaches.

If you are interested in taking part in career counseling, it might be a good idea to ask at your preferred mental health facility. Not all therapists or counselors specialize in career counseling, so it’s important to ask if they have any providers who specialize in this field. 

If you’re a university student, you may find a career or guidance counselor, or someone who offers a similar kind of service, on campus. There’s a lot to think about when you’re a student and ideas about your future might seem overwhelming; a career counselor can help you realize what you want the future to look like and understand the steps you need to take to get there, offering professional development and career planning. 

Wilson advises, “Choosing a career counselor will depend on what exactly you are looking for. If you’re just starting out in your career, you’ll probably want a counselor who can help you figure out what career path you want to take. If you’ve been in your field for a while, you might want someone who can help you progress in that field.”

At Grow Therapy, we have qualified professionals who specialize in career counseling and would be happy to speak with you about your career choices. You can search our marketplace for ‘career counseling’ and your health insurance type to find a therapist who can help.

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When to Seek Career Counseling 

There’s no “right time” to get career counseling, but if you identify with any of the following scenarios, it might be something to consider.

“[Career counseling is suitable] when you’re uncertain about what you truly want beyond a paycheck. When you realize you’re just ‘phoning in’ your work, or have an overall feeling of dissatisfaction and don’t understand why. When you’re feeling “stuck” and are anxious/fearful of doing anything different,” says Tommy Saathoff, a licensed professional counselor with Grow Therapy.

Galica says, “From my personal observations, career counseling often comes into play when someone’s career situation reaches a point where it significantly impacts their mental well-being. This extends beyond the typical scenario of feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about quitting a job. It encompasses various aspects, such as navigating the challenges of launching a new career or business while maintaining patience, as well as managing anxiety related to adapting to a new job or position. Career counseling provides support in these situations to help individuals cope with the mental and emotional toll that career-related difficulties can have.”

Some other scenarios for which career counseling may be beneficial include:

Like with any other aspect of life, when you’re feeling unsure or anxious and you think you’d benefit from “talking it out” and getting professional advice, counseling might just be the key.

Benefits of Career Counseling 

“One of the major advantages of career counseling lies in the neutral perspective it offers,” Galica advises. “It provides a space where individuals can freely express their thoughts and concerns without interruptions or constant interjections of skepticism. This allows for a more open and productive dialogue.”

And once you really start to get into the sessions, what happens then? Here are some other benefits that can come from career counseling:

Galica notes, “Another significant benefit is that a skilled career counselor can offer valuable insights and suggest alternative opportunities that individuals may not have considered on their own. They can provide guidance on how to embark on new endeavors or explore different career paths.”

Scared to Quit Your Job? How Career Counseling Can Help

There are many reasons that someone might be unhappy or unfulfilled in their job, and this can lead them to consider a career change. However, some people can be fearful of leaving a job or changing careers. Our experts offer some reasons as to why people might stay in a situation they’re unhappy in. 

Despite the web of doubts and hesitations about taking steps to make a change, Galica adds, “Through supportive resources like career counseling, individuals can address and navigate these emotional barriers, gaining clarity and developing strategies to overcome shame, guilt, and uncertainty. By providing a non-judgmental and empathetic space, career counseling can help individuals explore their options, assess risks, and work towards a path that aligns with their values and aspirations.”

Key Takeaways 

While it’s essential to find happiness in areas of our lives such as relationships, hobbies, family, and friends, it’s also necessary to seek job satisfaction and find a career that best suits you. 

Determining your career path can be a deeply personal journey, says Galica. “Ultimately, the key is to explore and discover what resonates with you personally, considering both the practical aspects of financial security, and the emotional fulfillment that comes from doing work that truly speaks to your soul.”

If you need some help on that journey, Grow Therapy has excellent, qualified therapists who specialize in career counseling. If you’d like some guidance on what to do next with your career, or you’re at the beginning of your journey and don’t know where to start, try searching our marketplace for a therapist who can offer professional advice and career guidance to help you realize your goals. 

Frequently Asked Questions

About the author
jocelyn moyet grow therapy Jocelyn Moyet, LMHC

Jocelyn Moyet is a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Florida and a licensed psychologist in Puerto Rico with 11 years of clinical experience. Jocelyn helps people from the Hispanic / Latinx community find balance and work through processing life experiences in a sensitive manner incorporating cultural factors into therapy services.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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