The Systems Theory Framework Of Career Development And Counseling: Connecting Theory And Practice

Patton, Wendy A. & McMahon, Mary L. (2006) The Systems Theory Framework Of Career Development And Counseling: Connecting Theory And Practice. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 28(2), pp. 153-166.

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The practice of career counseling has been derived from principles of career theory and counseling theory. In recent times, the fields of both career and counseling theory have undergone considerable change. This article details the move toward convergence in career theory, and the subsequent development of the Systems Theory Framework in this domain. The importance of this development to connecting theory and practice in the field of career counseling is discussed. Systems theory has been proposed as a potential overarching framework for dealing with many issues in human behavior. Contributors to systems theory have come from many diverse fields, including physics (Capra, 1982), biology, anthropology and psychology (Bateson, 1979). The work on living systems by D. Ford (1987) and M. Ford and D. Ford (1987) has served to develop an integrated framework of human development and has furthered the development and understanding of systems theory. Developmental Systems Theory (DST, D. Ford & Lerner, 1992) and Motivational Systems Theory (MST; M. Ford, 1992) have illustrated the applicability of systems theory principles to human behavior. Patton and McMahon (1999, 2006) have extended the utility of systems theory in their application of it as a metatheoretical framework for career theory, and as a guide to redefine career counseling practice. The field of career development, as with many other fields of psychology, is characterized by a variable and complex theoretical base. The early thinking by career theorists had ranged from acknowledging the potential of systems theory in furthering the integration of career theory and practice, incorporating aspects of systems theory into theoretical formulations, to drawing on theoretical frameworks of human development derived from general systems theory as frameworks within which to further understand specific aspects of human career behavior. Whilst systems theory had influenced the thinking of career theorists and researchers for over a decade, until the work of Patton and McMahon in 1999 it had not been applied to the provision of an overarching theoretical framework. The Systems Theory Framework (STF; McMahon, 2002; McMahon & Patton, 1995; Patton, 1997; Patton & McMahon,1999, 2006) is not designed to be a theory of career development; rather it is construed as an overarching framework within which all concepts of career development described in the plethora of career theories can be usefully positioned and utilized in theory and practice.

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ID Code: 2621
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Systems theory, career counseling, career theory, counseling theory
DOI: 10.1007/s10447-005-9010-1
ISSN: 0165-0653
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Springer
Copyright Statement: The original publication is available at SpringerLink
Deposited On: 20 Jul 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:22

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