Voluntary Midlife Career Change: Integrating the Transtheoretical Model and the Life-Span, Susan R. Barclay Kevin B. Stoltz Y. Barry Chung Frequent career change is the predicted experience of workers in the global economy.

Voluntary Midlife Career Change: Integrating the Transtheoretical Model and the Life-Span,
Susan R. Barclay Kevin B. Stoltz Y. Barry Chung
Frequent career change is the predicted experience of workers in the global economy. Self-initiating career changers are a substantial subset ofthe total population of career changers. There is currently a dearth of theory and research t o 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) life-span, life-space approach. The corresponding stages of the 2 models are discussed along with theoretically ap- propriate 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, gov- ernmental 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 transi- tions 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 ofthe U.S. workforce switches jobs every year o r 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 & MiUward, 2005). Clearly, as Hall (1996) indicated, a lifelong stationary career is not the norm in the 21st century.
The focus ofthis article is not on the change ofjobs people experience but, rather, on career change. Numerous authors have attempted to define career
Susan R. Barclay, Career Center, and Kevin B. Stoltz, Department ofLeadership andCounselorEdueation,UniversityofMississippi;T.BarryChung,Departmentof CounselingandAppliedPsychology,NortheasternUniversity.SusanR.Barelayisnow at Department ofLeadership and Counselor Edueation, University ofMississippi. Cor- respondence concerning this article should be addressed to Susan R. Barclay, Department ofLeadership and Counselor Edifcation, University ofMississippi, 109Guyton, University, MS 38677 (e-mail srbarcla@olemiss.edu).
© 2011 by the National Career Development Association. All rights reserved.
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Received 09/14/09 Revised 01/11/10 Accepted 02/25/10
change. Feldman (2002) stated that career change takes place for individuals upon “entry into a new occupation which requires flindamentally 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 be- cause they “intended to change to careers with 3-letter DHOC [Dictionary
ofHolland 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 chanße refers to a willfial and intentional change in one’s career from one Holland category to another (S. L. Perosa & Perosa, 1983,1984) and a shifi: from one field of work to another (Super, Thompson, Lindeman, Myers, & Jordaan, 1988),
MiHlife. 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 & Rob- bins, 2005; Heppner 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 involuntary (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 criti- cal 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 micUifers is midlife renewal (Engels, 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 Midcareer 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 Bohn (1970) posited.
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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 work- ers find that the original reasons for their choices are no longer valid, (p. 186)
There are many reasons that voluntary midlife career changes occur. Oc- cupadonal dissadsfacdon (D. Brown, 1995; Donohue, 2007), a lack of challenge (Vander Zanden, 2000), lack of career-related idendty (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 ofthe reasons cited for voluntary midlife career change.
Several career theories are known to be useful in counseling with mature workers (Bobek & Robbins, 2005). In pardcular. Super’s (Super et al., 1996) career development theory is useful for assisdng midlife adults to “frame their needs and expectadons” (Bobek & Robbins, 2005, p . 633) and realize a more developed self-concept. Little consideration has been given to an integradon of change process models that examine the cognidve, behavioral, and affective progression of midlife individu- als through a career change. A model integradng the transtheoredcal model of change (TTM) and the life-span, life-space approach to career development (LSLS) may be used to guide counseling intervendons at various points during career change and to support individual exploradon and growth in clients’ career decision making. With the new paradigm of modern workers facing repeated career changes, a model oudining the change processes may contribute to more effective counseling strategies.
In a special issue of The Career Development Quarterly (1995, Volume 44, Issue 1), which was devoted to adult career transidons, Stoltz-Loike (1995) raised two quesdons: “How well do career development theories like those of Super fit today’s work environment.*” and “What changes or addidons to diese theories might be appropriate?” (p. 90). Widi these quesdons in mind, we attempted to demonstrate how the integradon of TTM and Super’s LSLS approach to career development is useflil when counseling midlife career changers.
Core. Concepts of TTM
The TTM was developed originally for smoking cessadon. 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. T h e specific stages are precontempla- don, contempladon, preparadon, acdon, maintenance, and terminadon (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 cognidve, emodonal, 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/situadonal, maladapdve cognidons, 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 vali- dated in psychotherapy (McConnaughy, Prochaska, & Velicer, 1983), and career counseling has been conceptualized as personal counseling (Betz
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& 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 ofthe 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 under- going 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 diat these processes are at work when clients are undergoing a career change. Support- ing 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 encour- age 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 pardcularly 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 schémas 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 ap- proach 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 iti 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
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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 ofthe 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 accorclance 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 inter-
ventions to a specific stage of change to gain maximum effect of the intervention. The integration ofthe 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/T.ST.S Apprnarh
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 oft:en predicted.
Precontemplation (TTM)/Disengagement (LSLS)
In the precontemplation/disengagement stage, individuals may come to career counsehng 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.
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Precontemplation/ Disengagement
Midlife Career Changer Experiencing discourage- ment (although not fully
aware of the reason) Loss of interest in work
Letting go of work and old
work identity
Listening empathically Relationship building Motivational Interviewing:
Helping client to explore ambivalence and emo- tions concerning work and self-concept
Midlife Career Changer Growing awareness of job
Concern for the future
Initial thoughts of a possible
career change Expressions of doubt
regarding a career
Weighing pros/cons of a
career change Emotional expressions
Ï . Increasing personal control/self-efficacy
Helping career changer
to identify, clarify, and
explore the problem Narrative approaches/
soliciting and helping career changer to rebuild the career narrative
Exploring life themes Aiding client in learning
about self
Career Style Interview
Midlife Career Changer Increased motivation to
change careers Willingness to explore
interests/skills through
assessments Willingness to explore
opportunities Crystallizing, specifying,
and implementing
Counselor Administration/
interpretation of career
assessments Providing career listing
resources Supporting career
Midlife Career Changer Managing stress Redefining self
New life roles (e.g.,
student, new employee/
trainee) Determined/committed Stabilizing, consolidating,
and advancing
Educator and consultant
Supporting changes in
social connections Designing and supporting
stimulus control plans Encourager and emotional
Midlife Career Changer Building coworker
End of formal educational
Career change complete Holding on, keeping up,
and innovating
Supporting the expansion
The Model Integrating the Transtheoretical Model and Super’s Life- Span, Life-Space Approach to Career Development
According to TTM, precontempladon is a stage wherein a person has nei- ther 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 occupadonal dissadsfacdon, 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.
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of changes to broader
environments Consulting role
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 the present work self-concept and develop more congru- ent interests and activities in work and career. Raising consciousness about dissatisfaction and dialoguing about the 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 precontemplators process less information about difficulties and devote less time and energy to assessing themselves. Precontemplators benefit fiom empathy-oriented systems that are augmented with psychoeducational formats (Prochaska & Norcross, 2010).
Modvational interviewing can be used for enhancing change and is a good match with the TTM precontemplation stage (Miller & RoUnick, 2002). The focus is on working with the 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 the competing perspectives. This is similar to listening for ambivalence in the modvadonal interviewing model and working to in- crease 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 woLild 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 ofcareer counseling during this stage. Aldiough goal setting is an important Ranction in the career counseling intake process (Zunker, 2008), goals at this stage would be less concrete, and counseling at this stage would consist of having the 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 build- ing motivation for change and understanding barriers related to client perceptions, values, and needs.
Contemplation (TTiViyGrowth (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 fiiller understanding of the self and lay the groundwork for making new decisions.
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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 acdon; rather, this individual in this stage careñiUy 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 at- titudes (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 tesdng 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 dissadsfacdon and thoughts of a career change (Rhodes & Doering, 1993), we reason that a midlife adult in contemplation/growth is conscious of job dissadsfaction and considering whether a career change is feasible and, if so, what alter- nate 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 ofthe intake process outlined by Zunker (2008) is clarifying the problem. According to TTM, this clarifying begins in contemplation. As the career changer moves into contempladon/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 confrontadons 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 bibliotherapy and other educational techniques that are focused on self-discovery (Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010).
A specific narradve career counseUng intervendon that may be used dur- ing contempladon/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 usefijl 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. Idendfied life themes can be reconstructed at the maladaptive cognidons level of change. Super et al. (1996) discussed that clients with high versus low self-esteem are better able to move toward expressing an interest in a career choice. In
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addidon, 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 contempladon/growth stage, midlife career changers experience a range of emotions as they focus on increasing confidence in decision making and understanding the ramiflcadons 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 emodonal 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 preparadon/exploradon stage, the client is searching for and experimendng with new self-images. This stage will include trials as the client attempts to accomplish the tasks of solidifying a career idendty. Matching daydreams to skifls and preferences is an important task and uldmately 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 are set, and acdon will begin in the very near future (Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska & Norcross, 2010).
During exploradon, the midlife career changer begins to clarify and specify a career choice, which ultimately leads to implementation of a career change. These tasks of exploradon 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 ktiow what career to pursue. The changer’s self- concept, percepdon and sadsfacdon of skills and abilides, 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 dudng this dme of redirecdon (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 prag- matics 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 modvadon for change be- comes greater than the modvadon to maintain the status quo. This will be accompanied by greater energy and acceptance of possibilides. 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 interpretadon of assessment results. This process of change is cafled choosing (Prochaska & Norcross, 2010) and includes both social liberadon and self-liberation. Social liberadon accounts for changes in the social systems that support changers; self-liberadon is the process of lessen- ing restrictive psychological barriers concerning career and life roles. This
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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 transi- tion and movement. This stage can be particularly stressful because change plans and behaviors are 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/establish- ment with committed direction.
In the action stage, the client has a specific plan and has made a com- mitment 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 successñal 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 midUfe career change, fiirther 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) increas- ing support and understanding and (b) making sure the client has a plan to maintain the 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 this stage.
Addidonally, TTM states that clients need assistance in creating systems of reinforcement for goal-oriented behaviors called counterconditionin£i. 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 attempt- ing to create new ways of acting and being. Changing social systems may include clients’ removing specific people firom 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 the 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
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and accomplishments are not valued in the new career. Helping the client feel valued and supported in the career change is an important intervendon.
In this stage, the midlife career changer is attempting to build a new system of life roles. The counselor supports the actions ofthe changer by helping to design systems that reinforce the changes, and by helping the client navigate the rewards and disappointments ofthe career change.
Maintenance (TTM)/Maintenance (LSLS)
Many dmes, 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 stabiliz- ing the advances achieved during the acdon 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 transidon into a new career. The educadonal or training process has ended, and the midlifer is performing in the new career. During this stage, clients become increasingly more confident in the new career, incorporadng newly developed skills into their exisdng repertoire. This stage represents a momentous accomplishment for the voluntary midlife career changer. The changer has developed posidve work atdtudes, produc- dve habits, and good coworker reladons. 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 condnue to maintain posidve growth in the new career. However, because different situa- dons may threaten the new self-concept, follow-up sessions may be required.
Both Prochaska (1979) and Super (1957) discussed the concept of recy- cling. Prochaska discussed failed starts and stops in the health behavior change process that allowed changers to learn more about themselves and build knowledge toward uldmate change. He recognized that people may proceed through several iterations of the stages before terminat- ing the problem behavior completely (Prochaska et al., 1992). Super recognized that career development includes the concept of adjustment. When adjusdng, individuals experiment with new work environments that allow expression ofthe 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 nature will be and how he or she will contribute to society through work. Recychng is not a sign of failure or misdirection; it is, instead, an expected occurrence in counseling and becomes an op- portunity to expand a cfient’s self-understanding and learning.
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In this section, we provided responses to Stoltz-Loike’s (1995) ques- tions 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 & 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. Cotinseling 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 counselitig interventions with the tasks and stages ofthe LSLS approach holds promise for increasing the effectiveness of existing career counseling intervetitions 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, depressioti, atid 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 instrumetits and a person-to-environment fit method; it wiU 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 ofthe TTM to Super’s (1957) career counseling model helps to support the integration of career and mental health counselitig, a need that is echoed in the profession (Krumboltz, 1993; Zunker, 2008).
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