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Job advisor can solve psychological problems

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Posted May 19, 2014

Adolescents who are uncertain about their future profession have a tendency to experience psychological troubles. Luckily, at least some of these problems can be solved in a relatively simple way: by providing a timely career counseling, scientists say.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

E. Saskia Kunnen from the University of Groningen investigated, whether late adolescents with career choice problems and with high levels of psychological problems – such as anxiety or depression – could be included in their career choice interventions, or whether it is better to address their psychological problems before addressing their career choice problems. Her study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, shows that career counseling not only helps to choose a profession, but also has a positive effect on mental health.

Previous studies demonstrated that adolescents who were undecided about their occupational plans experienced higher psychological issues than most of their peers. This result was replicated in the present study as well. “Participants reported significantly higher levels of depression, obsessive-compulsive problems, interpersonal sensitivity, and hostility,” the scientist says.

However, the preceding studies are highly correlational. Thus they do not suggest, whether the causal relation exists between the aforementioned problems and decisiveness on employment matters. Are psychological difficulties caused by indecisiveness? Or perhaps hesitation is a consequence of mental issues?

Professor Kunnen analyzed reports of 45 students in order to deal with these questions. The participants were questioned before and after they participated in a project of career choice. Individuals took part in a program organized by one of the Dutch universities. During it abilities of self-exploration and decision-making were developed. These tasks were intended to improve ability to make a decision on a future job.

Statistical analysis revealed that the overall level of these problems decreased significantly after this project. “The levels of psychological problems following the intervention were around average,” the scholar claimed. Moreover, such a positive influence was especially noticeable among those young people who reported the highest level of mental issues. These results suggest that a presence of such difficulties should not indicate that students should visit a psychologist instead of a job advisor.

It is important to mention that the scientist carefully advices not to overgeneralize results of her study. “Firstly the participants in this study themselves made the choice for a career choice intervention, so, they perceived their career choice problems as the most urgent ones. Secondly, this study does not address severe psychopathology or people with diagnoses such as anxiety disorders or depression,” the researcher elaborated.

Article: Kunnen E., 2014, The Effect of a Career Choice Guidance on Self-reported Psychological Problems, Frontiers in Psychology, 5:547. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00547, source link.

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