Holland (1997) believed that career planning and occupation choice were an important aspect of job-satisfaction. Holland’s theory divided people into six ‘Holland’ types: Realistic (machines-focused), Investigative (science-mathematical focused), Artistic (freely-focused), Social (others-focused), Enterprising (power-focused) and Conventional (orderly-focused) which together can be abbreviated as the RIASEC (Holland, 1997). However, there were also two important goals of vocational counselling. First, achieving congruency where a person should be aligned with their work environment (Holland, 1997). Second, achieving differentiation where the most reoccurring ‘Holland’ type in an individual is noted by both the client and reflected by the counsellor (Holland, 1997).
During his research, Holland also developed certain scales about vocational counselling practice (Holland, 1997). The two tools used between the client and practitioner, here, involve a self-directed search (SDS). The SDS: A Guide to Educational and Career Planning (Holland, 1994) and SDS: Occupation Finder (Holland & Messer, 2013). The former, helps an individual obtain a greater knowledge of self-understanding. This SDS questionnaire provides an individual with more information about their personality in each RIASEC area. A RIASEC score is determined by interests, performance or lack of performance of skills, occupational desires, and self-estimates of abilities that relate to the average population (Holland, 1994). Then, the first three dominating types, or largest scores, from the RIASEC become the individual’s ‘summary code’ (Holland 1994). Now, the SDS: Occupation Finder (Holland & Messer, 2013) provides the individual with occupations related to their summary code. Here, the client and practitioner discuss results of the self-directed assessment and associated feeling and reactions.
SDS: Career Planning
The career planning portion was fun and interesting. It instilled a sense of nostalgia, a time when I fully believed in my potential to develop any passion into a career for myself. Although my present and past career daydreams varied, they all had similar occupation codes with respect to the Holland types. For example, my daydream career planning included the social, artistic, investigative, and enterprising ‘Holland’ types. However, social was the most recurring type. The ‘Social’ type was reflective of my personality and that was comforting because it consolidated my awareness of self-understanding. Therefore, my concern for others and perceptiveness tended to be the most consistent.
Still, I struggled with providing self-estimates of achievement because I was not confident with how I relate to the average population and the statements were vague. For example, “I’m good at math” compared to an average population could have many meanings such as “I can do mental math”, “I graduated with high school math”, or “I’ve completed calculus”. Therefore, I was unaware of the achievement of the average population regarding any scenario to hold an accurate comparison. Nonetheless, across all categories, I tended to rate myself below average for the masculine types and above average for the feminine types apart from the investigative type. This worried me because I wondered if this was truly a low self-estimate of myself. I wanted to know if I knew myself as fully as I originally thought. Or maybe, I had just fallen into categories society deems acceptable. This was my mindset.
SDS: Occupation Finder
So, my initial code: Social/Artistic/Investigative (SAI) lead me to many occupations. The most surprising was a Librarian which I could never visualize myself doing, and the most relatable given my current position is a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Currently, I work with children diagnosed with autism and we work within a collaborative environment. The SLP facilitates communication in clients by recommending goals and associated strategies to achieve those goals for the team to implement. So, I was curious that my personality would be congruent with the SLP occupation in this current setting. Since an SLP would be a higher position, the dynamic of power also changes. Therefore, relationships with your colleague’s changes. I would not want to increase power where I have already established relationships.
- How helpful did you find this activity in clarifying your own career development process? Describe the benefits and insights gained from this activity from the perspective of a client or provide plausible explanation as to why this activity failed to generate insights or benefits.
- Assume that you are a professional practitioner. Identify relevant advantages and disadvantages of the activity and explain how it might be applied to address the needs of particular clients and/or issues. Include general consideration of gender, culture, life/work/career development stage, task approach, life/work context, and so on.
- From a practitioner’s perspective, use theoretical constructs to interpret your client’s (that is, your) circumstances or experiences. Demonstrate your understanding through a discussion that uses Holland’s four constructs.
- Anastasi, A. (1992). What counsellors should know about the use and interpretation of psychological tests. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70(5), 610–615. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.1992.tb01670.x
- Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments (3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
- Holland, J. L. (1994). Self-Directed Search Assessment Booklet: A Guide to Educational and Career Planning (Form R, 4th Canadian ed.)
- Holland, J. L., & Messer, M. A. (2013). Self-Directed Search: The Occupations Finder (Form R, 5th ed.)
- The development, evolution, and status of Holland’s theory of vocational personalities: Reflections and future directions for counseling psychology.