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Career Construction Approaches

Used for diagnostics and counselling in German-speaking regions

Life Designing

Recent approaches in the English-language literature called ‘career construction’ or ‘life designing’ approaches take into consideration both the constructionist learning and experience processes of a person and systemic factors. The life designing paradigm (Savickas et al., 2009), which attempts to combine various approaches into one counselling model for the world of work in the 21st century, identifies five foci unlike the foci in earlier approaches and postulates them for occupational, academic and career counselling:

  1. From traits and states to context: a focus on contextual possibilities (characteristics of behaviours that are embedded in specific contexts)
  2. From prescription to process: a focus on processes and lifelong learning
  3. From linear causality to non-linear dynamics: a focus on non-linear progression and the complex interplay of various relevant factors
  4. From scientific facts to narrative realities: a focus on multiple perspectives and subjective realities (for example, in the form of narrated stories)
  5. From describing to modelling: a focus on an active role on the part of clients

This new orientation in counselling requires further instruments, which can be used in addition to existing instruments. In English-speaking countries various instruments have already been developed, and some have been tested in research studies. Counsellors use the instruments as an aid to structuring the counselling process.

In the innovation project 'Career Construction Approaches' (Career Construction-Ansätze für die Berufs-, Studien- und Laufbahnberatung im deutschsprachigen Raum) we take up these approaches and adapt them for the German-speaking cultural area. Specifically, the innovation project focuses on the following instruments:

  1. My System of Career Influences (MSCI): Adaptation of the Workbook method for German-speaking regions/countries
    a. MSCI (Adolescents)  (McMahon, Patton, & Watson, 2005)
    b. MSCI (Adult) (McMahon, Watson, & Patton, 2013)
  2. The Career Story Interview (Savickas, 2011): Adaptation of the structured interview method for German-speaking regions/countries
  3. My Career Story – An Autobiographical Workbook for Life-Career Success (Savickas & Hartung, 2012): Adaptation of the Workbook method for German-speaking regions/countries

Each instrument will first be translated and then adapted for German-speaking regions/countries and tested based on research. The aim is to test all three instruments in the context of occupation, academic and career counselling and, if possible, to make them freely available. Further aims are publications in national and international journals and presentations at conferences. In addition, the project provides an opportunity for bachelor’s and master’s theses at the ZHAW School of Applied Psychology and master’s theses in the programme Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Diagnostics and Counselling.

Project leader


Third-party funds: Funded by IAP Foundation