Career Crisis Counselling

The client may feel awful

The effect of a work or career crisis on people may be severe. For many people their identity “I am an X” and way of life is dependent on the job they do. When the job is at risk apparently everything may be lost and the person feels valueless, sad and often angry. No‑one can think and plan, market themselves, decide about the future well when feeling awful. The loss signalled by job crises often stirs up old painful memories of other losses (divorce, bereavement etc.). The client has to deal with these too.

The counsellor helps the client express her/his feelings

The first part of any counselling process is usually to listen to, release and accept painful feelings and to help the person recover their self esteem. If the client is feeling positive and freed by their change of situation then help her/him to celebrate fully.

Client needs to think clearly

When the feelings are out, the client has much work to do. A crisis opens doors and closes them. The client can use the opportunity to think broadly about his/her options for work in the future. A new job in the old organisation or field, a job in a new field, self-employment, relocation or travelling for a year are all possibilities. The openness of the possibilities is daunting and the temptations are to stay put, to do nothing or, rarely, to be hopelessly unrealistic about what is possible.

Focusing client’s thought on his/her wants and resources

The counsellor helps the client explore thoroughly and in depth the question “What do I want to do with my life now?”. Exploring such a question is a very positive experience for most people. He/she then helps the client explore and value his/her experience, skills, knowledge and connections.

The client formulates a plan to get what he/she wants

When the client knows what he/she wants ideally and his/her resources, the next steps are to develop a plan. The plan includes a detailed and realistic target and a process or processes for reaching it.

The counsellor encourages the client to act positively and realistically

The task of the counsellor at this stage is to encourage the client to act and to test the reality of wants. “What is your track record in the present Company, will it support your ambitions?”. “You want to develop your amateur acting into a professional career, have you talked with a professional about what is involved?” The client is also encouraged to look at all the ways there are of solving the problem and to decide an initial approach.

The client presents him/herself to the market

The client is now having to present him/herself at an interview and on paper and by telephone. For many people this is new and somewhat frightening. It is very difficult indeed if the negative feelings are still present.

The counsellor offers feedback and coaching on self presentation

The counsellor can help by giving feedback and general guidance on the client’s CV, how to complete application forms or create business plans. People are often insufficiently positive about their achievements. Many do not mention their achievements at all!

The experience of being interviewed can also be daunting. So much seems to hang on half an hour. People are often nervous and, therefore, do not think very well. Gentle practice interviews with the counsellor followed by feedback to the client can improve performance dramatically. People learn that they are much more effective by being themselves than by trying to act. CCTV enhances the process.

The client decides whether to accept an offer

When work or a job is offered the client has to decide whether to take it. This is an important decision. It does not help to move from the frying pan to the fire. Some people want to talk this over too, perhaps over the phone.


This is my approach to job crisis counselling. It does work and leaves the client more able and self confident than they were before. He/she does most of the work.

Everyone will not need the whole of the above. Some will find an hour of being listened to intently enough to be able to do the rest on their own. Where people do need everything, it rarely takes more than four to five half days over say two to three months to work through the whole process.

These approaches are also effective in a small group.

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick