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Hope Based Counselling

By Judith Thomas
“True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings; kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings.” William Shakespeare


Having been a career practitioner for over ten years, I have noticed that the biggest challenge faced by my clients is themselves. That is to say; their jaded attitude towards job coaches, programs and agencies. Almost to a person, they are lacking hope for their future.


There are a few possible reasons for this world-weary stance.


  1. Savings lost due to the financial recession mean they will have to return to work instead of retiring as planned.
  2. Development of a disability means that they can no longer do the type of work they used to do.
  3. Technological innovation has ended a job they held for many years and now they must face a career change.
  4. Employer downsizing or restructuring.
  5. Company move to a third world location.
  6. They have been to several job coaches and agencies and no one seems to be able to point them in the right direction.
  7. Newcomers are rejected by employers because they lack Canadian experience.


The above are just a few examples that conspire to kill hope for a meaningful career, or perhaps even just a job!


As an employment professional, your task is to alleviate these misgivings. Without hope, your clients can not possibly consider working towards a goal. Employers will spot a lack of confidence, or hope in attaining a position in their organization, and they will not hire that person. If they do not trust themselves to be successful in the role, how can they possibly convince a hiring manager of it?


Here are some tips to help you revitalize your client’s confidence in themselves and to inspire hope for their future:


  1. Point out that even in a recession, there are still jobs available.
  2. Emphasize their skills and abilities. When I am facilitating group workshops, or working one on one with an individual, I constantly throw in phrases like; “You obviously have great organizational skills.” I base my interjections on stories of their past performances.
  3. Let them know that their values and personality traits are just as significant as “hard” skills. This is especially important to those who have had a gap in their employment.
  4. Sell what they have, not what they lack. For example, if they are in the forty plus group, they can sell their experience and solid work ethic. If they are a youth, they can sell recent education, excellent computer knowledge, or fresh innovative ideas.
  5. When facilitating, use your student’s own ideas. Rather than handing out wads of paper and information, have them share information and their own job search experiences. They will feel valued for their opinions, rather than relying solely on your expertise. Even negative examples can be turned around, if you approach them from the point of view of what to avoid in future.
  6. Do not set yourself up on a pedestal, above your clients. Demonstrate empathy. Your role is merely to provide structure and information for their career choices.
  7. Don’t waste their time when presenting group courses, or workshops. Have a toolbox full of topics, so that you can provide them with the ones that are most relevant to their situation.
  8. Introduce humour, but make sure you direct it at yourself. When they realize that you have made job searching mistakes, or fumbled interviews, they will feel more confident in learning new techniques. Knowing how to be successful in their employment quest, will lead to hope for a successful career.
  9. Approach your relationship with clients as a team effort. You will do your part and they need to follow through on their assignments. Being a team, puts you on an equal footing and allows them more input in their career management.
  10. Try listening to their pride stories. From them you can gather a list of skills, abilities, values and personality traits. I type up my lists and give them to my clients. They are often amazed at the amount of selling points they have for an employer, which again leads to more hope for a better work future.Judith Thomas is a graduate of Connestoga’s Career Development Practioner program. She has worked in this field for over ten years, for various agencies and programs. Her work includes marginalized youth, forty-plus clients and most recently, persons with disabilities. Judith has delivered workshops at the Onestep, Opportunities conference and at the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC) CANNEXUS conference. She has also worked extensively with employers as a job developer and disability issues presenter. Judith is an excellent presenter, facilitator and trainer.Judith left regular employment this year, due to her own hidden disability and inability to work regular business hours. She is now developing s home based business as a private career coach.


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