Just as schools are required to provide more academic and social services and prepare students to be both college and career ready, school counselors and community mental health professionals have also felt the pressure to increase services to students and clients in tangible, career-related ways. In the process, helpers can feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work to be done each day.
While school and mental health counselors can be a tremendous help with career development, they are often so busy with the day-to-day treating of academic, emotional, and social issues that career guidance takes a back seat. Some counselors may even feel that the one career education course they took in graduate school has left them underprepared to offer significant help with career development
Recent changes in the field of career guidance can help schools and communities. One of the major changes in the field of career guidance in the past few years has been the emergence of career development facilitators (CDFs). A CDF is a person who works in any career development setting or who incorporates career development information or skills in their work with students, adults, clients, employees, or the public. A CDF has received in-depth training in the areas of career development in the form of 120 instructional hours, provided by a nationally qualified and certified trainer.
What Do CDFs Study?
The CDF training focuses on twelve career-related competencies, developed by the National Career Development Association. These competencies are vital for effective practice, whether pursuing the CDF credential or not. Learn more at www.ncda.org
The competencies include:
Labor Market Information and Resources
Working with Diverse Populations
Technology and Career Development
Ethical and Legal Issues
Training Clients and Peers
Career Development Theories and Models
Program Management and Implementation
Promotion and Public Relations
How Will CDFs Help?
Most CDFs are currently working in community colleges as career coaches. Why not bring them into the high schools and community mental health centers? CDFs could work collaboratively with school counselors to both improve school counseling programs and increase the students’ ability to be both college and career ready. They can work with mental health counselors as an adjunct to therapy for those providers who need the extra support.
Sounds Great! What Is Stopping This From Happening?
“Turfism” – School counselors, mental health counselors, and CDFs have many overlapping goals for career development, but may differ on their approach or not know enough about each other to work together.
Financial Component – Adding additional staff and training is a major expense, and not one easily reimbursed.
Time – Having enough time in the day to be able to incorporate another area of focus is a barrier for every change that comes up in agencies and school systems.
Administrative buy-in – Getting the support of administration can be an issue. They must weigh the cost with the benefits and figure out how to account for both the financial and personnel changes.
Ok! How Can the Problems Be Fixed?
Turfism – Counselors have the training to focus on development, crisis intervention, academic and emotional counseling, as well as career development. CDFs are specifically trained to work on career development. Counselors and CDFs must work collaboratively to prepare consumers to make major life decisions.
Financial Component – By being creative with how districts and facilities use their personnel, they can get the most for their limited funds. Grants are also a great way to get the extra funding needed to add a new position. A good place to start looking for grant funding is at the State Departments of Education. Here is an example from Arkansas: http://www.arkansased.org/divisions/communications/grants
Time – It is true that there is only so much time in the day but career development is a core component of school and mental health counselor identity. If groups collaborate with colleagues and promote connections between workplace skills and the core curriculum and treatment plans, it is possible to find ways to integrate most of the career development curriculum into their work.
Administrative buy-in – Administrators want what is best for their consumers (clients and students). In order to get them to buy-in and support adding CDFs, outline specifically how CDFs can improve the services being offered and how those services improve outcomes.
Counselors and CDFs working collaboratively not only improves the ability to make sure all of their constituents are college and career ready, it also lowers workloads on personnel and enables staff to efficiently focus more time and energy on specialized tasks. Career guidance should not just be one more thing personnel have to do. It should be a top priority. Having CDFs on staff is a win-win situation for all involved.
Kim Hebel, Ed.S, CDF, has twelve years of experience working in the field of education. Her career path led her through many areas within education including special education, regular education, and school guidance and counseling. She has worked in grades 4-12. She works as a Senior Counselor and Building Concurrent Credit Coordinator for the Greenbrier School District. She has a MSE in Special Education and an Ed.S in School Guidance and Counseling from Harding University. She also has her CDF certification. She is currently working towards her certification in Building Administration. She received the Distinguished Educator award from Greenbrier High School in 2013. Kim can be reached at email@example.com.