The role of psychology in the career development of adolescents and young adults with special needs

Term Paper, 2015

11 Pages, Grade: B


Table of Contents







"Career" being a controversial and complex term had been defined by different authors pertaining to their different fields of study and perceptions. Making the right career choice that would keep adolescents relevant in the scheme of activities in the society could be daunting and difficult. Adolescents in our society are often preoccupied with so many thoughts of future career prospects. This, more often than not, often predispose these adolescents to irrational thoughts. Such irrational thoughts could be debilitating to the society and psychological well-being of adolescents. Transition from secondary school to workplace, college or university is a critical path through which every adolescent must pass through (Cassie, 2005).

However, it is not uncommon to aver that many of these adolescents are left unguarded while transiting from college to workplace. Most often, parents, teachers, and friends have encouraged secondary school students to proceed to the university while a good number of secondary school students may end up attending universities without knowing why or what they intend to study of which in most cases career psychologist is needed to ascertain the uncertain issue and finding a helping solution to it. For many, this is an important time for career-related matters that will be beneficial to them. As they face the need to choose an academic major, as well as to develop career goals for the future, career problems often become a developmental phase they must pass through in making proper career choices for life.

Career psychologists work individually and with other educators to meet the developmental needs of all individuals, including those with special needs or disabilities. Significantly, they focus on the academic, career, and personal/social developmental needs of all individuals, including those with special needs. Inconsistencies in the roles of practicing guidance psychologists have caused some specialists in education to begin to address the emerging role of psychologists regarding students with special needs, especially with respect to their career development. Since the level of happiness an individual exudes in life is closely related to the type of career the person chooses, and other career development activities relating to job retention and advancement, guidance psychologists must endeavour to expose individuals to several career development activities in order to help them to successfully, choose occupations, prepare for, enter into and progress in them.

Career development process should start at an early age, learning about different careers early could enable students have a better understanding of types of jobs they would want to explore in the future. Career process may start formally as early as primary school and could continue throughout secondary school because of many uncertainties especially in an unstable economy like ours. In those days career started as soon as a person finished his/her education and started to work, and did not require any additional knowledge or professional development. Further studies showed that most secondary school leavers at their adolescent age make poor career decisions because of their unrealistic vocational aspirations. It is reported that students select occupations mainly because of the salaries, positions, glamour and prestige attached to them (Salami, 1997).

For instance, adolescents prefer medicine, engineering, law, banking, architecture, and pharmacy as professions they intend to enter into after graduating from secondary school without adequate knowledge of what it takes to succeed and achieve in those occupations (Salami, 2000). It is therefore important that secondary school counsellors (career psychologists) help adolescents make satisfying educational and occupational decisions. In a developing country like Nigeria, career counselling is needed as a vital tool for developing youths. The choice of a career especially among diverse options is usually a difficult task among adolescents as well as adult with special needs. There is need to guide adolescents/adult with special needs in planning for careers and making life fulfilling decisions. Again, the school system has been seen to be responsible for assisting adolescents in making competent career decisions that are appropriate to their abilities, attitudes, interests and other personality characteristics. School administrators must strive to assist students through adequate career counselling, providing guidance in career selection by qualified career counsellors (career psychologists) in schools to help students overcome irrational career thoughts. Sampson, Peterson, Lenz, Reardon and Saunders (1996) were the first scholars to identify irrational career thoughts as a component of career decision-making process. Sampson et al. (1996) sought to enhance career decision-making among students by helping them reduce the impact of irrational career thinking on their career decisions, themselves, options, and decision-making abilities. These could contribute to indecision, anxiety and depression, which may in turn hinder proper career development and later life adjustment (e.g. inability to get a gainful employment after graduation may alter the ability to move from being a dependent adolescent to an independent adult.). Irrational career thought according to Sampson et al (1996) is a perceptual way of viewing oneself in a manner that inhibits career problem solving and decision-making. Researchers have found irrational career thoughts to be a strong indicator of career indecision (Osborn, 1998; Saunders, Peterson, Reardon, & Sampson, 2000). It is obvious today that a person must constantly develop new and better personal skills. Taking into consideration career today is considered to be a lifelong process more complex than it used to be, it is not strange that career is in a focus of many studies, and that many scientists in different professions (psychologists, sociologists, economists) are trying to understand the process of personal career. According to (De Simone, Harris, 1998), Career can be described as individual's occupation, but on the other hand, it can denote one's progression and increasing success within his/her occupation or organisation, or it can denote sequence of related jobs. A career is the sum of total work-related experiences throughout a person's life (Jones, George, Hill, 2000,). Subsequently, career is a lifelong process, which conglomerate of a person's working experience gained while performing different jobs and moving between diverse positions, but it is also fulfilled by achieving greater responsibility, power and progression on his/her career path. Career becomes the most important connection between an individual and organization. Young, talented and well-educated and skilled professionals put their career and development among the most important segments of their life, and they stay in certain position until they see perspectives for personal and career development.

"ADOLESCENTS" A transition from childhood to adulthood, a major turning point in adolescents' lives involves the career choice that they make while in senior secondary school. Frequently, it is viewed by family and community as a mere start to workplace readiness; however, this decision plays a major role in establishing youth in a career path that opens as well as closes opportunities. Since some adolescents with special needs like those with severe mental retardation might not even complete secondary school education because of their unique characteristics, it is the role of career psychologists to assist these adolescents in their career development as early as possible. Therefore, whether college-bound or work-bound, meeting the challenge of this developmental milestone is critical in adolescents' lives. This is why career development plans and activities are important for individuals with disabilities. With the term c areer and the term development being put together, it can be said that career development is the life-long process of fostering and cultivating the shape of the individual's working life so as to make the best use of inherent talents, skills, knowledge and interests for that person (Peel, 1992.). The term career development is concerned with the potential of individual and the situations in which they are or may be at the moment and after that. It often carries a strong overtone of promotion and upward movement. Career development is the lifelong process of managing, coordinating progression in learning and work. The quality of this process significantly determines the nature and quality of individuals’ lives: the kind of people they become, the sense of purpose they have, the income at their disposal. It also determines the social and economic contribution they make to the communities and societies of which they are part. Career development is vital to the individual (Adolescents) who is yet to determine the shape of his future likewise being cleared on the purpose of which he/she was created.


Renowned scholars have developed theories that describe manners in which adolescents make choices about career development. In other words, researchers tend to explain why and how adolescents choose the careers of their choice. For instance, Holland’s personality type theory centred on the notion that people fit into one of six personality types namely, realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional (RIASEC). Holland (1987) maintained that in choosing a career, people prefer jobs where they can be around others who are like them. They search for environments that will let them use their skills and abilities, while taking on enjoyable problems and roles. Super (1967, 1976) propounded a career self-concept theory. According to Super an individual’s self-concept plays a central role in his or her career choice. Super believes that it is during adolescence that individuals first construct a career self-concept. Super talks of crystallization phase when the adolescents develop ideas about work that mesh with their already existing global self-concept. Next is the specification phase. This is when the adolescents narrow down their choices and initiate behaviour that enables them to enter some type of career. The implementation phase is when the adults complete their education or training and enter the world of work. The stabilization phase is when a specific, appropriate career is made and finally when the individuals seek to advance their careers and to reach higher status positions. This phase is called consolidation. For Super, a time perspective was always centrally important to the career development process:

It has always seemed important to maintain three time perspectives: the past, from which one has come; the present, in which one currently functions; and the future, toward which one is moving. All three are of indisputable importance, for the past shapes the present and the present is the basis for the future. But if I were forced to declare a preference in orientation to time, it would be for the future - even after more than fifty years of work experience (Super, 1990, p197).


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The role of psychology in the career development of adolescents and young adults with special needs
Business Administration
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Psychology and Career development
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Micah Effiong (Author), 2015, The role of psychology in the career development of adolescents and young adults with special needs, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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