Career counseling is related to other types of counseling (e.g. marriage or clinical counseling). What unites all types of professional counseling is the role of practitioners, who combine giving advice on their topic of expertise with counseling techniques that support clients in making complex decisions and facing difficult situations. Career counseling is focused on how the individuals manage their journey through life, learning and work (career). This includes career exploration, making career choices, managing career changes, lifelong career development and dealing with other career related issues.
There is no agreed definition of career counseling worldwide, mainly due to conceptual, cultural and linguistic differences. However, the terminology of ‘career counseling’ typically denotes a professional intervention which is conducted either one-on-one or in a small group.
There is also considerable variation in the terminology that is used worldwide to describe this activity. In addition to the linguistic variation between US English (counseling) and British English (counselling), there are also a range of alternate terms which are in common use. These include: career guidance; career coaching; guidance counselling; personal guidance; career consulting and a range of related terminologies. This frequently leads writers and commentators to combine multiple terms e.g. career guidance and counselling to be inclusive. However, care should be exercised when moving from one terminology to another as each term has its own history and cultural significance.
A key alternate terminology is ‘career guidance’. This term is sometimes used as a synonym for career counselling, but can also be used to describe a broader range of interventions beyond one-to-one counselling.