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Voluntary midlife career change: integrating the transtheoretical model and the life-span, life-space approach.

  Frequent career change is the predicted experience of
  workers in the global economy. Self-initiating career
  changers are a substantial subset of the total population
  of career changers. There is currently a dearth of theory
  and research to help career counselors conceptualize the
  career change process for the application of appropriate
  interventions. The authors present an integration of
  a well-researched behavior change theory, the
  transtheoretical model of change, with Super's (1990)
  lire-span, life-space approach. The corresponding stages
  of the 2 models are discussed along with theoretically
  appropriate interventions. The integrated model provides the
  basis for future research on the change process for voluntary
  midlife career changers.

Although little data exist to substantiate career movement, researchers, governmental entities, and career professionals offer information indicating not only that such movement has become common in the American workplace but also that it is showing a continuing trend. This information signifies that most individuals in the U.S. workforce will undergo several career transitions during their lifetime. This movement may include a shift from one job to another or a complete change of careers (Fouad & Bynner, 2008). For example, the U.S. Department of Labor (2008) reported that, on average, a person born between 1957 and 1964 held 10.8 jobs between the ages of 18 and 42 years. Additionally, both B. Brown (1998) and Bolles (2002) posited that much of die U.S. workibrce switches jobs every year or every few years. Ruffolo (1993) reported that "one of every three is in some stage of career movement or change" (p. 7). A complete change of careers is not uncommon among the workforce (B. Brown, 1998; Ebberwein, Krieshok, Ulven, & Prosser,2004; Wise & Millward, 2005). Clearly, as Hall (1996) indicated, a lifelong stationary career is not the norm in die 21st century.

The focus of this article is not on the change of jobs people experience but, rather, on career change. Numerous authors have attempted to define career change. Feldman (2002) stared that career change takes place for individuals upon "entry into a new occupation which requires fundamentally different skills, daily routines, and work environments from the present one" (p. 76). Similarly, Heppner, Multon, and Johnston (1994) defined career change as "a transition from one set of duties to a different set which may include a new work setting" (p. 57). Donohue (2007), in his study of Holland and Gottfredson's Career Attitudes and Strategies Inventory (CASI), explained the exclusion of 51 career change-intending respondents in his sample because they "intended to change to careers with 3-letter DHOC [Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes] codes identical to their current career" (pp. 267-268), suggesting that career change can be defined as a move from one three-letter Holland code to another. These definitions relate to both voluntary and involuntary career change. This article addresses voluntary career change only. We chose to align our characterization of career change with two additional definitions. Voluntary midlife career change refers to a willful and intentional change in one's career from one Holland category to another (S. L. Perosa 6k Perosa, 1983, 1984) and a shift from one field of work to another (Super, Thompson, Lindeman, Myers, & Jordaan, 1988).

Midlife Career Change

Career change may take place at any age across the life span; however, a critical time for a change is during middle adulthood (Bobek & Robbins, 2005; Hcppner et al., 1994). Super, Savickas, and Super (1996) discussed the phenomenon of career change in the maintenance stage of the life-span, life-space approach to career development. Williams and Savickas (1990) stated that individuals in maintenance who do change must recycle through Super's (1990) earlier stages and crystallize a new choice. Additional attention has been given to midlife career change, both voluntary and involuntarv (Eby & Buch, 1995; Heppner, Fuller, & Multon, 1998; Wise & Millward,'2005).

Middle adulthood, sometimes referred to as midlife or middle age, is defined as that period of a person's life span between the age of 35 and 65 years (Dacey & Travers, 2004; Vander Zanden, 2000) and is a critical time for many individuals. Sensory, physical, and health changes are taking place, and middle-age adults must navigate new life situations and role transitions (Bejian & Salomone, 1995; Vander Zanden, 2000). One common practice among midlifers is midlife renewal (Engcls, 1995; Super, 1957), a time during which middle-age individuals take stock of themselves and reevaluate where they are going and what they are doing with their lives. Vander Zanden (2000) calls midlife "a time of looking back and at the same time looking forward" (p. 488). Power and Rothausen (2003) incorporated this phenomenon in their iMidcareer Development Model, which does not reflect the path of career changers but offers an explanation of why people change careers. They explained that people who change careers are no longer interested in their work and do not express interest in learning about their work outside specific organizational requirements. Power and Rothausen viewed this as a signal that the person may be a candidate for career change and suggested Super's (Super et al., 1996) recycling minicycle model for conceptualizing this process. As a result of reflective life assessment, an individual may decide to make a voluntary career change. Super and Bonn (1970) posited,
  It is not uncommon for an adult in his middle years to ask himself'
  why he is doing what he does for a living. In serious reflection on
  this question, some workers find that the original reasons for their
  choices are no longer valid, (p. 186)

There are many reasons that voluntary midlife career changes occur. Occupational dissatisfaction (D. Brown, 1995; Donohue, 2007), a lack of challenge (Vander Zanden, 2000), lack of career-related identity (Dacey & Travers, 2004), stress and anxiety related to job insecurity (Donohue, 2007; Tivendell & Bourbonnais, 2000), workplace bullying (Donohue, 2007), and conflicts between work and other life roles (D. Brown, 1995) are some of the reasons cited for voluntary midlife career change.

Several career theories are known to be useful in counseling with mature workers (Bobek & Robbins, 2005). In particular, Super's (Super et al., 1996) career development theory is useful for assisting midlife adults to "frame their needs and expectations" (Bobek & Robbins, 2005, p. 633) and realize a more developed self-concept. Little consideration has been given to an integration of change process models that examine the cognitive, behavioral, and affective progression of midlife individuals through a career change. A model integrating the transtheoretical model of change (TTM) and the life-span, life-space approach to career development (LSLS) may be used to guide counseling interventions at various points during career change and to support individual exploration and growth in clients' career decision making. With the new paradigm of modern workers facing repeated career changes, a model outlining the change processes may contribute to more effective counseling strategies.

In a special issue of The Career Development Qtiarterlj (1995, Volume 44, Issue 1), which was devoted to adult career transitions, Stoltz-Loike (1995) raised two questions: "How well do career development theories like those of Super fit today's work environment?" and "What changes or additions to these theories might be appropriate?" (p. 90). With these questions in mind, we attempted to demonstrate how the integration of TTM and Super's LSLS approach to career development is useful when counseling midlife career changers.

Core Concepts of TTM

The TTM was developed originally for smoking cessation. The stages of change are one of four core dimensions that make up the TTM. These stages represent fluid states through which an individual moves when preparing to alter health-related behaviors. The specific stages are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination (Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992). The stages are augmented by the processes of change, levels of change, and the decisional balance. The processes of change represent the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of engaging in a change process. These processes may occur inside or outside a counseling experience. Levels of change represent the depth of psychological focus (i.e., symptoms/situational, maladaptive cognitions, current interpersonal conflicts, family/systems conflicts, intrapersonal conflicts; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010). The decisional balance helps to conceptualize the pros and cons of the proposed change, a schema that fits nicely with valuing and decision making. Although voluntary career change is not a health behavior change, the TTM model has been validated in psychotherapy (McConnaughy, Prochaska, & Velicer, 1983), and career counseling has been conceptualized as personal counseling (Betz & Corning, 1993; Krumboltz, 1993; Super, 1993). According to Zunker (2008), counselors should address career and personal concerns from a holistic perspective, suggesting that these two areas are inseparable. Thus, we believe that the integration of the TTM with Super's LSLS approach is appropriate and may lead to productive research, thereby deepening the understanding of career change and, in turn, highlighting mental health issues involved in career change.

The assumptions and properties of the TTM further support our proposition that TTM can be integrated with the LSLS approach for use in midlife career change counseling. TTM is considered a bridge theory between counseling theories and techniques. This middle-level focus allows counselors to understand "processes or principles of change" (Prochaska & Norcross, 2010, p. 10) that are common to all counseling interventions. These processes were derived empirically from studies of people undergoing various health behavior changes and are considered to be natural processes used by all humans undergoing change. If career counseling and personal counseling are inseparable, then reason dictates that these processes are at work when clients are undergoing a career change. Supporting this proposition, career researchers have recognized specific processes from TTM without referencing the model. For example, Zikic and Hall (2009) discussed career exploration as taking place in the client's social and cultural context that may constrain career choice. TTM accounts for changes in the social context by the process of choosing, which includes the subcategory social liberation. Social liberation represents changes made by social systems that allow more choices for changers (Prochaska & Norcross, 2010). An example is educational institutions that encourage women to and support women who enter engineering fields. Zikic and Hall (2009) also discussed raising clients' awareness about perceived barriers to career options. This raising of awareness is called consciousness raising and is used significantly in the first two stages of TTM.

TTM also includes a dimension of depth in psychotherapy called levels of change (Prochaska & Norcross, 2010). This dimension represents the focus of intervention and is particularly useful when discussing career change. These levels include maladaptive cognitions accounted for in the cognitive information processing approach (Peterson, Sampson, Lenz, & Reardon, 2002). In addition, the levels of change include family systems conflicts and intrapersonal conflicts. These two levels represent significant self-concept schemas that result in client indecision or regrets about past decisions (Blustein, Schultheiss, & Flum, 2004; Ibarra, 2003). In summary, TTM allows career counselors to approach clients from a meso-theory, using natural change processes and levels as the focus of interventions. Integrating this model with the LSLS approach helps to identify the processes of change that may be targeted by career counselors to help clients realize their career change goals.

Although there seem to be many positive aspects of integrating these two models, the integration is not seamless. TTM is steeped in Western culture and reflects change from that point of view. Using this model in today's global workplace may take serious alterations to include other cultural experiences of change. In addition, career counseling is now embracing a holistic approach to working with clients (Zunker, 2008); however, career practitioners who have not been trained in mental health issues may experience difficulty working with clients' emotional processes and differing levels of change. Integrating these two models promotes incorporating mental health issues into the career counseling process as a necessary component of change, furthering the need of specialized training for practitioners who have not been trained as counselors.

Aligning the Stages

The LSLS approach espouses the progression of major career and life role stages of development. These stages include growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance, and disengagement and occur over the life span maxicycle (Super et al., 1996). Super (1990) included transitions between stages and discussed the concept of recycling through some or all of the stages. He called this a minicycle, which we conceptualized as the intersection of TTM and LSLS. Each LSLS stage has tasks that must be accomplished by the career changer. These tasks, along with TTM processes of change, become the nexus of this integrated model.

We match each TTM stage of change with a specific stage of the LSLS approach, offering an explanation of each. Understanding that the stages from each model are not fixed and may vary widely, we align the stages of change with the processes of change in accordance with TTM literature. Furthermore, we align the LSLS stages by matching the developmental tasks of each LSLS stage to correspond with the TTM processes of change, resulting in stage alignment. Our purpose-is to provide practitioners with the information to relate LSLS tasks to specific career interventions that support the natural change processes. This is the fundamental utility of TTM--matching appropriate interventions to a specific stage of change to gain maximum effect of the intervention. The integration of the two models is depicted in Figure 1. We present examples that may be used with each stage of change, applying the processes and levels of change.

Counseling Midlife Career Changers Using the TTM/LSLS Approach

Super (1957,1990) conceptualized his theory as a developmental model. He recognized that although there are stages associated with specific ages, the stages are variable. According to Super, individuals entering a stage are presented with new roles and expectations that require them to adapt to the new developmental stage. To adapt, individuals must make changes in the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral realms that may be explained more fully by TTM when an individual is experiencing a career change. Our discussion begins with the precontemplation stage of TTM and the LSLS disengagement stage, a time when voluntary career change is common and often predicted.

Precontemplation (TTM)/Disengagement (LSLS)

In the precontemplation/disengagement stage, individuals may come to career counseling at the request of others or may not fully accept that they are unhappy with their career. These clients may engage in blaming others for their unhappiness and fail to see that they have lost interest in their work.


The Model Integrating the Transtheoretical Model and Super's Lifespan, Life-Space Approach to Career Development

According to TTM, precontemplation is a stage wherein a person has neither the desire for change nor the awareness of a possible need for change, although others may recognize the need (Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010). Precontemplators may present as discouraged (Prochaska et al., 1992), yet may not recognize the underlying reason as occupational dissatisfaction, which Bejian and Salomone (1995), D. Brown (1995), and Jepsen and Sheu (2003) asserted is a major reason that many individuals change careers in midlife.

Super et al. (1996) described disengagement as a process whereby a person loses energy and interest in work. This withdrawal process may stem from job dissatisfaction that is unrecognized by the disengager. Disengagers may not have resolved the tasks of earlier LSLS stages (Super et al., 1988), leading to premature disengagement.

The tasks associated with the minicycle disengagement stage is to recognize the dissatisfaction in die present work self-concept and develop more congruent interests and activities in work and career. Raising consciousness about dissatisfaction and dialoguing about die loss of interest in work would be an appropriate place to begin career counseling, according to TTM. Moving quickly to assessment and counseling interventions (e.g., career assessment, searching career listings) during precontemplation/disengagement would be inappropriate and may be detrimental because preconteniplators process less information about difficulties and devote less time and energy to assessing themselves. Preconteniplators benefit from empathy-oriented systems that are augmented with psychoeducationa! formats (Prochaska & Norcross, 2010).

Motivational interviewing can be used for enhancing change and is a good match with the TTM precontemplation stage (Miller & Rollnick, 2002). The focus is on working with die client's ambivalence to change. This approach is reflected in the work of Pittman (2000), who presented a technique of listening for conflicts presented in a career client's narratives and helping the client to understand die competing perspectives. This is similar to listening for ambivalence in the motivational interviewing model and working to increase discrepancy in the client's values concerning the dilemma. Along with understanding the competing dilemmas, counselors may help clients engage in weighing the pros and cons of career change. According to TTM, reasons to change, as measured by the decisional balance, would have less immediate value than would reasons not to change. The client sees many more reasons to keep the status quo and rejects overtures of career change. Inviting the client to tell career stories, listening for conflicts, and reflecting these dilemmas should be a major component of career counseling during this stage. Although goal setting is an important function in die career counseling intake process (Zunker, 2008), goals at this stage would be less concrete, and counseling at this stage would consist of having die client engage in deliberation about the possibilities of changing careers.

From a career change perspective, the counselor working with a client in the precontemplation/disengagement stage will listen for ambivalence concerning career change and help the client begin to understand the dilemmas inherent in her or his current life roles. This stage can include processing self-concept issues at all levels of change. The focus is on building motivation for change and understanding barriers related to client perceptions, values, and needs.

Contemplation (TTM)/Growth (LSLS)

Contemplation/growth is a stage during which individuals become aware that they are dissatisfied. Individuals begin to understand that the dissatisfaction is a symptom of a larger and more complex challenge of understanding themselves and how they made past choices concerning work and career. This can be an emotional time for clients as they reflect on the past and feel regrets and disappointments. However, these regrets and disappointments give way to a fuller understanding of the self and lay the groundwork for making new decisions.

In TTM, contemplation is a stage during which an individual becomes aware of a problem and begins to think seriously about change. A person in this stage is not ready to make a commitment to action; rather, this individual in this stage carefully weighs the advantages and consequences of change (Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010).

According to LSLS, growth involves four key elements: concern about the future, ability to increase personal control over one's life, ability to achieve at work, and ability to gain competent work habits and attitudes (Super et al., 1996). Individuals in the growth stage face the task of developing a realistic self-concept. Growth involves curiosity about exploring and fantasy in testing new self-concepts, which leads to the expression of genuine interests. The individual usually begins to realize the importance of planning for the future (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009). Both contemplation and growth are periods of doubt and self-examination for the midlife career changer, but may lead to a renewed commitment to career issues. Contemplating and growing midlife individuals face anxiety and fear over unknown consequences of changing careers in midlife, a decrease in self-esteem, and skepticism concerning the wisdom of their past personal and career choices (Bejian & Salomone, 1995; Bobek & Robbins, 2005).

Because there is a direct relationship between job dissatisfaction and thoughts of a career change (Rhodes & Doering, 1993), we reason that a midlife adult in contemplation/growth is conscious of job dissatisfaction and considering whether a career change is feasible and, if so, what alternate careers to explore. This process is likely to take place on a superficial level throughout this stage but becomes deeper during the next stage.

Part of the intake process outlined by Zunker (2008) is clarifying the problem. According to TTM, this clarifying begins in contemplation. As the career changer moves into contemplation/growth, the person is still using the process of consciousness raising. The client should also experience increased motivation to change, according to TTM. This increase is accompanied by more dialogue concerning the positive aspects of changing careers and the daydreams of possibilities. Miller and Rollnick (2002) called this change talk, which is exemplified by the client arguing for change. Counseling techniques such as observations and confrontations are helpful for increasing the individual's awareness. Interventions that assist a person in becoming more aware of herself or himself and the nature of the dissatisfaction are useful during these stages. At this point, the voluntary midlife career changer benefits well from bibliothcrapy and other educational techniques that are focused on self-discovery (Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010).

A specific narrative career counseling intervention that may be used during contemplation/growth is the Career Style Interview (CSI; Savickas, 1998). The CSI is geared toward helping clients build a career narrative, raising awareness of life themes and specific personality traits that may govern personal decision making. These themes are used to help explain past decision making and become useful in career planning. The CSI targets the intrapersonal level of change focusing on early life experiences and the client's original interpretations of those events. Identified life themes can be reconstructed at the maladaptive cognitions level of change. Super et al. (1996) discussed that clients with high versus low self-esteem arc better able to move toward expressing an interest in a career choice. In addition, clients commonly experience catharsis concerning early memories during the CSI. This catharsis is called dramatic relief in TTM and is a process of change appropriate for this stage.

In the contemplation/growth stage, midlife career changers experience a range of emotions as they focus on increasing confidence in decision making and understanding the ramifications of change. Career counselors will focus on clarifying the problem and helping the client explore both positive and negative issues related to career change. The client may experience intense emotional episodes and vacillating self-doubt. The counselor needs to be prepared to provide emotional support, called helping relationship in TTM, for the client throughout this stage.

Preparation (TTM)/Exploration (LSLS)

In the preparation/exploration stage, the client is searching for and experimenting with new self-images. This stage will include trials as the client attempts to accomplish the tasks of solidifying a career identity. Matching daydreams to skills and preferences is an important task and ultimately leads to career choice.

Preparation is a stage that combines intention and behavior, when career changers will solidify decisions to take action. Goals and priorities arc set, and action will begin in the very near future (Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010).

During exploration, the midlife career changer begins to clarify and specify a career choice, which ultimately leads to implementation of a career change. These tasks of exploration are tentative, transitional, and with little commitment, and serve to increase knowledge of self and the world of work (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009). S. L, Perosa and Perosa (1984) found that persons who were changing careers were most concerned with the duties of exploration.

Midlifers in this stage desire a career change and have made the decision to change, yet may not know what career to pursue. The changer's sell-concept, perception and satisfaction of skills and abilities, and awareness of needs, values, and personality and adjustment style (Dawis, 1996) will have a major influence in determining a new career choice. A career counselor is an invaluable partner during this time of redirection (Kapes & Whitfield, 2002).

Facilitating this redirection, career assessment can have major impact on career changers' decisions in planning and choosing a career (Kapes & Whitfield, 2002). Assessments serve as a starting place for the career changer's new learning (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009; L. M. Perosa & Perosa, 1997). Exploration can be augmented by reviewing the pragmatics of career change with the Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes (Gottfredson & Holland, 1996) and other career listings.

In this stage, according to TTM, the client's motivation for change becomes greater than the motivation to maintain the status quo. This will be accompanied by greater energy and acceptance of possibilities. The career changer may experience new personal freedom to recreate the self by challenging old ways of thinking about career and life roles, based on her or his interpretation of assessment results. This process of change is called choosing (Prochaska & Norcross, 2010) and includes both social liberation and self-liberation. Social liberation accounts for changes in the social systems that support changers; self-liberation is the process of lessening restrictive psychological barriers concerning career and life roles. This takes place at the intrapersonal level of change and affects all other levels of change. In this stage, the self-concept is liberated from external and internal forces that restrained the career changer's expression of self. Thus, supporting the career changer's self-exploration and choices, along with the use of career assessments, is an important intervention in this stage.

Action (TTM)/Establishment (LSLS)

Major modifications begin to take place for the middle-age career changer in the action/establishment stage. A solid commitment of time and energy is required because this is a period of serious transition and movement. This stage can be particularly stressful because change plans and behaviors arc being carried out. The midlife career changer's success in this stage depends critically on the work in earlier stages. Thoroughly understanding reasons for career change, knowing environmental preferences and values, and exploring the pragmatics of career change assist the changer in progressing into action/establishment with committed direction.

In the action stage, the client has a specific plan and has made a commitment to following the plan to fruition. Individuals generally report higher levels of determination and self-efficacy surrounding a life change (Prochaska et al., 1992). If successful in the action stage, the midlifer will adapt important skills to maintain the change following action (Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010).

Establishment begins with stabilization and commitment (Super, 1990). The career changer has daydreamed about the possible self to construct in the exploration stage and begins to see those daydreams become crystallized as a reality during the establishment stage.

Life experiences alone are not enough to prepare the midlifer for a career change. Super et al. (1996) stated that for many individuals experiencing a midlife career change, further education may be required. S. L. Perosa and Perosa (1984) found that 50% to 80% of midlife career changers return to school. This process aids them in acquiring new skills and competencies that will be necessary to effect a career change (Bejian & Salomone, 1995).

Key counseling techniques during action/establishment include (a) increasing support and understanding and (b) making sure die client has a plan to maintain die proposed change. Niles and Harris-Bowlsbey (2009) discussed providing support in the career counseling process, again a form of helping relationship in TTM. A counselor's roles of coach and consultant (Mitchell & Krumboltz, 1996) are very appropriate for the tasks associated with tiiis stage.

Additionally, TTM states that clients need assistance in creating systems of reinforcement for goal-oriented behaviors called counter*conditioning. There may also be a need for stimulus control in the client's various environments. Many times in family and work systems, there is pressure to return to old ways of being, during the time that the client in a career change is attempting to create new ways of acting and being. Changing social systems may include clients' removing specific people from their life to facilitate career change (Ibarra, 2003). This would be viewed as the TTM levels of change called interpersonal conflicts and family/systems conflicts.

After retraining has been completed, stabilizing a new career identity is a major task of this stage. Depending on die career client's income level in the previous career position, the individual may be disappointed in income and responsibility levels, which may seem to indicate that prior work experience and accomplishments are not valued in the new career. Helping the client feel valued and supported in the career change is an important intervention.

In this stage, the midlife career changer is attempting to build a new-system of life roles. The counselor supports the actions of the changer by helping to design systems that reinforce the changes, and by helping the client navigate the rewards and disappointments of the career change.

Maintenance (TTM)/Maintenance (LSLS)

Many times, counselors may no longer see clients in the maintenance/maintenance stage. Clients are busy with creating stability in their new career and may no longer require counseling services. However, periodic sessions may be required as clients face the expansion of the new career self in novel situations.

The TTM maintenance stage is a period of consolidating and stabilizing the advances achieved during the action stage. The maintenance stage is not static, but rather a continuation and stabilization of change across the individual's life roles (Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010; Stoltz & Kern, 2007).

The LSLS maintenance stage involves maintaining what has been achieved in the previous stage. Simultaneously, the career changer is discovering new challenges for advancement and developing new skills.

During the maintenance/maintenance stage, the midlife career changer makes the final transition into a new career. The educational or training process has ended, and the midlifcr is performing in the new career. During this stage, clients become increasingly more confident in the new career, incorporating newly developed skills into their existing repertoire. This stage represents a momentous accomplishment for the voluntary midlife career changer. The changer has developed positive work attitudes, productive habits, and good coworker relations. This stage supports a congruent sense of self-concept that is highly valued by the midlife career changer (Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010).

Counseling during this stage may become unnecessary as clients continue to maintain positive growth in the new career. However, because different situations may threaten the new self-concept, follow-up sessions may be required.


Both Prochaska (1979) and Super (1957) discussed the concept of recycling. Prochaska discussed failed starts and stops in the health behavior change process that allowed changers to learn more about themselves and build knowledge toward ultimate change. He recognized that people may proceed through several iterations of the stages before terminating the problem behavior completely (Prochaska et al., 1992). Super recognized that career development includes the concept of adjustment. When adjusting, individuals experiment with new work environments that allow expression of the self-concept. In essence, the two theorists referred to similar constructs. In his original research, Prochaska described the change in self-concept and subsequent behaviors from being a smoker to being a nonsmoker, whereas Super discussed a parallel concept of refining what one's future will be and how he or she will contribute to society through work. Recycling is not a sign of failure or misdirection; it is, instead, an expected occurrence in counseling and becomes an opportunity to expand a client's self-understanding and learning.

In this section, we provided responses to Stoltz-Loike's (1995) questions by integrating TTM and LSLS theories to discuss the process of voluntary midlife career change. This integration demonstrates that Super's (1990) theory is viable and useful with 21st-century midlife career changers. The addition of TTM to Super's model aids the career counselor in understanding the midlifer's career change experience and helps guide timely interventions. We assert that TTM may show promise when applied to other transitions discussed by Super (e.g., high school to college/work, worker displacement). Additional research is needed in all of these areas.

Voluntary Midlife Career Change: Considerations and Challenges

S. L. Perosa and Perosa (1984) found that approximately 33% of individuals experiencing career change sought counseling. Career counselors, whose role will fluctuate between educator, coach, and mentor (Mitchell 6k Krumboltz, 1996), can be invaluable partners to individuals making a voluntary midlife career change. Issacson (1985) suggested that career counseling is more critical for the midlife career changer than it is for individuals in any other age group. Counseling serves the midlifer in making the most of a change to a new career, as well as in gaining self-confidence to make that change (Bejian & Salomone, 1995). Aligning TTM stages of change and counseling interventions with the tasks and stages of the I-SLS approach holds promise for increasing the effectiveness of existing career counseling interventions and for providing additional insight into the career change process.

Both career and mental health counseling skills are necessary to assist the client with the emotions of fear, anxiety, depression, and self-doubt, as well as with career formation, decision making, and implementation of a career change (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009). A counseling-based career assistance approach will encompass more than assessment instruments and a person-to-environment fit method; it will include emotional, cognitive, and behavioral processes along with traditional career interventions. It will also take into consideration the intertwining life structure issues of work, leisure, friendship, and family alluded to by Super (see Zunker, 2008). The addition of the TTM to Super's (1957) career counseling model helps to support the integration of career and mental health counseling, a need that is echoed in the profession (Krumboltz, 1993; Zunker, 2008).


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Susan R. Barclay, Career Center, and Kevin B. Stoltz, Department of Leadership and Counselor Education, University of Mississippi; Y. Barry Chung, Department of Counseling and Applied Psychology, Northeastern University. Susan R. Barclay is now at Department of Leadership and Counselor Education, University of Mississippi. Correspondence concerning thisaiticleshould be addressed to Susan R. Barclay, Department of Leadership and Counselor Education, University of Mississippi, 109 Guyton, University, MS 38077 (e-mail
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Author:Barclay, Susan R.; Stoltz, Kevin B.; Chung, Y. Barry
Publication:Career Development Quarterly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2011
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