Updated: Nov 15, 2021
The Power of Storytelling
I first met Dr .David Blustein in Mystic, Connecticut keynoting a National Career Development Association (NCDA) conference. Blustein’s message made a profound impact on how I look at social change. The presentation was scholarly, academic and didn't skimp on the data and he could also take an individual’s experience with suffering and hope and turn it into a lesson about life. He stressed the importance of weaving together the social fabric and the common experiences that bring people together to build healthy communities centered on a more dynamic understanding of the importance of work. The power of storytelling was unmistakable and I got the feeling that Dr. Blustein had more than a few Studs Terkel books on his shelves.
The keynote introduced a new paradigm called The Psychology of Working and the practice of critical consciousness on the individual and systems level. I read the book and it stays with me. Blustein’s most recent publication in the American Psychological Association further illustrates the accelerating need for an integrated counseling model for mental health and work post Covid. As the mental health landscape transforms through the practical applications of telehealth and the initial legislative exchange on the state and federal level towards compliance, theoretical frameworks like Blustein’s provide an opportunity to measure gains and the propensity for the system to deliver on its promises. Collaboration between career counselors and mental health practitioners needs to be a big part of the new way forward. As a society, we are collectively experiencing a massive shift in how work gets done, and what work is doing to people and the practice of career counseling and coaching is quietly emerging as an effective response to the necessities of life long learning and adult development.
Hole in the Bucket
In Blustein's 2016 NCDA message, he addressed the growing number of workers experiencing long term unemployment. From 1990 to 2016, the percentage of long term-unemployed of the entire population of unemployed adults in the U.S. jumped from 10% to 28% and went as high as 45% in 2008. Covid not only exacerbated an existing problem, the pandemic ushered in a broader cross section of the population experiencing work and life disruption and the effects of marginalization. The system was somewhat stable pre-2016 compared to now. The forces of nature are spilling over, but things have been brewing for a long time.
Betrayal & Healing
We are at a very unique point in history. The people who have the power, money and influence appear to be immersed in their own financial and societal self-care while the folks who are being most dramatically impacted don’t have a voice and the rest of us in the middle are so burnt out that we hold onto being busy as some deranged life force. When feelings of betrayal are experienced in every cross section of the population, sorting things out ain’t easy. But that’s the climate. Socially and environmentally. The Pandora Papers, The Great Resignation, Epstein, Greta, Kyrie, Hurricane Ida, SpaceX. The only way to eclipse the catalyzing force of social media is to mold your technological interfaces into a storyline that is purposeful and hopeful for you.
Sounding Line is constructed to be an integrative resource and a reflective practice for experiential learning. The narrative assessment process naturally connects your story to choices and possibilities based on your own personal truth. Schools, agencies and clinicians need simple and accountable programming to bridge the gap between what happens in therapy and the classroom to work and real life.
Narratives Assessment & Mental Health
Sounding Line utilizes a framework and technological platform called OneLifeTools, developed by Dr. Rich Feller of Colorado State University and Mark Franklin, practice leader of Career Cycles, in Toronto. Like the Psychology of Working, Feller and Franklin’s Narrative Method of Practice is an evidence-based practice. The role of the career practitioner and Sounding Line, within the Psychology of Working and OneLifeTools methodologies, is to bring together two parts in order for them to become whole. The integration between career work and mental health is vast and ever changing and it lasts a lifetime. While it is hard to escape from the feeling that the pandemic is something being done to us, we experience a totally different storyline when we recognize that stability and change are for something too. Career counseling and narrative assessment provide an actionable and accountable process for collaboration, integration and reimagining that naturally extends across a broad educational and service landscape.
The First Four Drops
The first four Sounding Line blog “drops” help the reader understand the types of services, tools, theoretical influences, professional experiences and relationships that come together to form the Sounding Line counseling and consultation model. In the next Sounding Line drop, we will delve deeper into the importance of career readiness for all students and the work of William Symonds, Executive Secretary for the Coalition for Career Development and Director of the Global Pathways Institute at Arizona State University. We will close out with Career Resource Management as a silo buster, and technology for equitable resource distribution for college students and career pathway systems, by looking at what Dave Kozhuk is doing with uConnect.