Choosing an academic or professional path is seen today as an extremely important stage in the lives of youngster and something that can determine their future. As such, it must be an informed, conscious and reasoned choice. If, on the one hand, it is essential to identify one’s own interests, capabilities and aptitudes (self-knowledge), on the other hand, the choice can only be made by knowing the existing training and professional opportunities. Only in this way it is possible to guarantee full integration and satisfaction in the working world.
According to Cristine Martenet, in her book “Coaching with NLP”, “acting to create individuals in perpetual adaptation to the world, to help them realize their full physical, affective, intellectual and social potential in a balanced way is a great task.”
If in the beginnings of Vocational Guidance, it was seen only as the need to adjust the youngster to the world of work, as described by Frank Parsons (1909) in his book “Choosing a vocation” and where only three steps were included in this process of Vocational Guidance : 1) Analysis of the characteristics of individuals; 2) Analysis of the requirements of the professions and 3) Guidance of the individual based on the relationship between their characteristics and the requirements of the profession, nowadays this process is much more complex and rich.
Vocational Guidance was placed closer to Psychology, namely with Holland in the 1950s, being today seen as a dynamic process and adapted to the individual characteristics, a vision that is very close to Coaching.
Nowadays, in addition to the traditional application of Psychotechnical Tests, where three specific areas are analyzed, attitudes, interests, and values (namely professionals), the use of Coaching in this process represents an asset for the youngster.
It is mainly at the stage of self-knowledge and self-awareness that Coaching can be an extremely useful and effective approach. In it, the Coach supports youngster in self-reflection and self-discovery, asking questions that allow them to reflect more consciously.
According to Jill Jameson (University of Greenwich), Coaching can be described as a “student-focused, constructivist experiential approach”. ‘Constructivist’ here means an approach that recognizes students’ prior knowledge and aims to build on it, complementing educational and workplace demonstration.
Using the Coaching methodology and the tools at its disposal, the Coach facilitates the exploration process, leading the youngster to know better themselves, their values and their motivations and occupational interests. It also facilitates the assessment of skills and personality characteristics. This is essential to work on the objectives and the results that the youngster wants to achieve as well as obtaining a commitment to an action plan.
The Coach carries out self-exploration questions such as: What do you want for the future? How do you see yourself in 10 years from now? What are your expectations to the world? How important do you want to be in society? What do you need to do today so that in the future you get the results that you want?
It was in this context of self-exploration and self-knowledge, both so important in the process of Vocational Guidance, as in any decision-making in our daily life, that my Coaching Model, CRESCER© (TO GROW UP) emerged, which is fundamentally based on 6 axes:
To Know – Reinforce the importance of knowing yourself; know their real potential; know what your life goals and goals to achieve; know the options you have available that best suit your personality and lifestyle
Accountability – Be responsible for the decision-making and actions you put into practice; be responsible for looking for options that can contribute to personal growth/development
To Choose – Make choices based on the knowledge of yourself and the paths you have at your disposal; have the ability to realize that there are no paths with no return possible (at any point in your life you can go back on the path previously chosen)
To Dream/To Be – Having the ability to dream and let yourself be, understand what your dreams, motivations and values are and, given this, allow yourself to dream of what you want to be in its fullness; understand your life purpose so that your choices and decisions are aligned with that purpose
To Connect – Connect with you; feeling connected to here and now, presenting a feeling of belonging to the surrounding world; explore different contexts/experiences that foster/reinforce the connection
To Evolve – Allow yourself to evolve in the face of your life experiences; having the confidence and audacity necessary for personal growth, accepting the changes that may come
To Rewrite – Being able, through the process of self-reflection and self-discovery, take different paths in your life and thus rewrite your personal story
The complexity of the education system and its articulation with the world of work, on the one hand, and the individual and social costs of less adequate career decisions, on the other, are sufficient reasons to justify the creation of guidance programs that help youngsters in their decision-making, always based on the exploration of themselves and the existing educational offers, as well as on self-discovery and self-awareness.
The purpose of using Coaching in the Vocational Guidance process is to help the youngsters in the decision-making process and to promote aspects of an important vocational maturity in their choice. The exploratory process involves the development of cognitive (essentially represented at the level of competences and aptitudes) and affective skills (interests and motivations), combined with contextual factors (educational and training offer, curriculum plans), in order to commit the youngster to a conscious and coherent decision.
Five main moments are evident, which serve to intentionalize the process of Vocational Guidance, emphasizing in the youngsters the ownership of their choices:
1) Exploitation of oneself;
2) Exploration of skills, motivations and capabilities;
3) Exploration of the professional world;
4) Exploitation of the educational and training system;
5) Decision making/commitment. In this decision-making, the youngsters should be aware of their responsibility towards the results.
The use of such tasks aims to promote “empowerment“, enabling the youngsters to make decisions, not only related to present demands, but throughout their entire existential path. This situation makes the preventive, developmental and promotional nature of Vocational Guidance more pressing, as it has, in the act of decision, its object and objective.
Coaching skills that can be used in Vocational Guidance processes will allow youngsters to improve their abilities and behavior in order to achieve success and fulfill their goals. For this, several areas and themes will have to be addressed, namely:
- Identification of their current state (Mindset)
- Identification of limiting and enhancing belief systems
- Value hierarchy
- The importance of goal setting (SMART goals)
- Definition of an individual action plan
Analyzing each of these areas, it is important to mention that the youngsters should, at the beginning of the Vocational Guidance process, understand their current mental state (Mindset) to be able to assemble a whole real and ideal scenario around them in relation to their physical and professional world. Only in this way they will be able to progress in the process, in order to achieve the objective, they set at the beginning. They should make an analysis of the “here and now”, as well as the way they look at the future, both personally and professionally. Coaching has a crucial role here, helping in this identification, as it appears that not always youngster, at this stage, have a clear and realistic notion of their mindset, which can compromise decision-making.
To increase the effectiveness of the entire process, one of the Coaching skills that allows achieving better results in the Vocational Guidance process is the identification of their beliefs with the corresponding transformation of the limiting beliefs into potentiating beliefs.
Beliefs are at a very deep-rooted neurological level, organizing our personality and defining our way of being and acting. And because they are of such great importance, they affect all levels of our neurological system, and our personality. In short, by transforming beliefs, we are transforming our lives, and managing to align ourselves with our goals, personal and/or professional.
That’s why it’s so important to know our convictions and limiting beliefs, what we believe that limits us. Examples of limiting beliefs are expressions such as: “I can’t”, “I never”. And faced with these limiting beliefs, there are always two options: either believing that nothing changes and choosing to stay where we are, even if it costs, or believing and accepting that we want to change something. One way to make this change is to pay attention to the body sensations felt when we experience a limiting belief.
It is here that Coaching can once again play a key role with youngster, as it helps them to identify limiting beliefs and to accept that some of them correspond to reality and, as such, they are only preventing their action and taking decision.
In the hierarchy of values, youngsters are invited to put into perspective the values they believe in and what the real importance they have in their lives. Values in which youngster believed to be fundamental for them, often pass to a lower level after careful analysis and thoughtful reflection. Thus, this exercise is extremely important and help in decision-making in terms of academic and career paths.
In addition to the hierarchy of values, the definition of goals also represents a crucial step in the process of Vocational Guidance, as it is here that youngsters are faced in a raw and frontal way with what they genuinely believe and want for their future lives.
Objectives are concrete descriptions of where you want to go or what you want to achieve, ie the purpose. The objective is strategic and comprehensive and presupposes action. Thus, it is essential that youngsters, in the process of Vocational Guidance, are prepared to set goals and targets and carry out concrete actions in order to achieve them.
It is the role of the Coach to help the youngsters to define their life goals, taking into account that they must be SMART, that is, they must be Specific (Specific), Measurable (Measurable), Achievable (Achievable), Relevant (Relevant) and Time-bound (Temporal). You should also confirm with the youngsters that these goals are within their sphere of influence.
This process of setting goals is fundamental for the decision-making process and establishing an action plan.
There are many youngsters who have a preconceived idea of the career they intend to have in the future, but often they have not really visualized the path they need to go through to get there. It is therefore essential to set goals well, so that decision-making is as conscious and thoughtful as possible, minimizing any disappointing and frustrating career paths.
After the entire process of self-knowledge, self-reflection, analysis of interests, skills and values and definition of SMART goals, it is time to define an individual action plan. It is at this stage that the youngsters need to put into practice everything they previously explored and experienced, drawing up an action plan for themselves. This action plan should contain all the information collected and should be relatively simple for the youngsters to draw up this plan.
It can be said that the individual action plan is a commitment to their own development. It is a plan that systematizes the various actions to be taken so that the youngsters achieve the goals they set for themselves. In other words, it is a roadmap youngster to move forward, always based on the entire exploratory journey carried out up to that moment.
Given all the presuppositions that assist both the Vocational Guidance Process and the Coaching approach, it seems evident, that it will be difficult to dissociate these two concepts, given the obvious benefits that Coaching brings to the Vocational Guidance processes.
It is increasingly assumed that a successful Vocational Guidance process is one that deeply explores interests, aptitudes, values and life purposes, beyond the alternatives offered by the training market.
Thus, through the Coaching approach, youngsters will discover the formula that will allow them to make thoughtful choices, with full knowledge of themselves and the options they have, having been supported by the Coach at various stages of the entire process, achieving calmly and genuinely accept your new path or way of being in the world.
By rewriting their lives or part of it, the youngsters managed to follow the path that separated them from the starting point where they were, to their final goal.
“Curative change is like pulling weeds.
Productive change is planting new seeds.
Evolutionary change is modifying the terrain on which seeds and weeds grow”, Robert Dilts