Hope Centered Approach

Career Flow

The Career Flow model provides a framework for guiding individuals through phases of self-reflection, self-clarity, visioning, goal-setting, planning, implementing, and adapting. With a central focus on instilling and maintaining hope, Career Flow also offers a metaphor for different types of career experiences, including stillwater, whitewater, optimal flow, stagnant water, and even flow interrupted – career experiences that resonate with many career practitioners and their clients. The Career Flow model acknowledges the various influences that impact on career development. The important factor in the model is that hope and optimism is at the centre of the model. (Niles, Neault, Amundson, 2011)

Career Flow Competency model

Hierarchy of hope

“I can generally achieve my goals.”

“I can generally achieve my goals in athletics but I’m less confident about achieving school goals”

“I’m generally able to achieve my life goals but not sure that I can earn an “A” in my chemistry exam.”

Ten tips to facilitate Career Flow

  1. Establish a relationship. As in any type of counseling or coaching, a solid working alliance is an essential foundation.

  2. Identify a counseling/coaching goal. Collaboratively identify what's working, what's not, and what your client wants to change.

  3. Listen to the client’s story. Provide space for the individual to share career experiences – both highs and lows. Link to the Story Approach and materials here!

  4. Identify themes or inconsistencies. In analyzing stories, look for repeated patterns and also exceptions to the norm.

  5. Introduce the “Career Flow” metaphor. There are many types of career flow, for example whitewater, stillwater, tsunamis, stagnant waters etc. Water conditions may change quickly – help clients name different types of career experiences and gain some control in navigating them.

  6. Introduce the “Career Flow” model. Career Flow is a dynamic process comprising self-reflection, self-clarity, visioning, goal-setting, action planning, implementation, and constant adaptation. The environment both impacts and is impacted by each Career Flow element. Hope is at the core of the model – without hope, clients are not going to achieve optimal flow.

  7. Choose a starting point. Specific career issues may benefit from different Career Flow interventions. Rather than moving through the process sequentially, be intentional about where to start – and also about where your support will end. For example, a client may come to you after extensive self-reflection, looking for support in identifying potential careers to consider. You may either provide support only the self-clarity stage (through the career decision-making process) or you may continue working with the client through visioning and goal-setting. The client needs determine the extent of your involvement.

  8. Recognize environmental influences. Changes in the environment impact the speed and quality of Career Flow. Although catastrophic events may impact Career Flows across occupations and industries, changes in an individual's personal environment (relocation, new life role responsibilities) can also make a big difference. This applies especially to international students as they have taken a very brave step to relocate to study in a different country and environment.

  9. Strengthen hope for the future. Take a strengths-based approach, helping your client recognize career possibilities. Optimism is significantly related to both career success and job satisfaction, so building and sustaining hope is an important focus for your work together.

  10. Evaluate progress and set new goals. Assessment is ongoing – using the Career Flow model effectively will ensure that your work together is focused and effective. Build in evaluation at each stage to ensure that inventions are resulting in positive change or to signal a need to shift direction.

    (by Neault R., presented in the IAEVG Conference 2011)

More information:

The Career Flow workbook, co-authored by Drs. Spencer Niles, Norman Amundson, and Roberta Neault, provides diverse case examples, tips, and practical activities, solidly grounded in theory.

Niles S., Amundson N., Neault R., 2011. Career Flow: A Hope-Centered Approach to Career Development)