Career Counseling

  • I feel anxious every time I encounter my manager.
  • How do I get promoted/switch jobs/recover from a layoff?
  • What is going on with my performance review?
  • How do I get back into the workforce after a break?
  • My job sounds good on paper but something is still missing.
  • I spent all this money and time on getting my career. Why am I still unhappy?
  • How do I manage work conflict and professional relationships successfully?
  • I feel like I am meant to do something more fulfilling or exciting – but what?
  • My new position is overwhelming. I need to succeed in it, but how?
  • I need to have a back-up plan for when my company starts downsizing.
  • I recently graduated/completed professional training. Now what?
  • I am thinking about retiring from this career. What will I do instead?
alt text Image showing office career

What Is Career Counseling?

Career counseling helps you understand yourself and the world of work and make satisfying career, educational, and life decisions. I can help you make smart choices for your present and future, so that you are engaged in your chosen career field and compensated in a way that is commensurate with the work you do.

Counseling for IT and Business Professionals

Sometimes the person who can help you the most is someone who has been in the same situation as you, has had similar experiences, and knows the territory and the language. The truth is, very few therapists have the appropriate background or life experience to assist you with your career needs.  Before becoming a counselor, I had an extensive career in high-tech. My previous job titles included: programmer-analyst, software developer, systems engineer, research scientist, business analyst, product manager, project manager, and a certified scrum master.  By combining my skills in mental health counseling with my experience in the IT and corporate world, I can help you think strategically through your work-related issues.

Career Coaching for Personal Development

Career coaching involves helping people clarify work and personal values, refine problem-solving skills, and improve motivation in performing daily activities. We can focus on game planning and identifying the short-term and long-term steps that align with your career goals. Career coaching can help improve your communications skills for dealing with coworkers, managers, or customers, refine interview and networking skills, and build up your leadership, business, and management abilities.

Women in Technology

Women who work in IT are often exposed to discrimination, hidden bias, and micro-aggressions. Most never report the harassment because they feel unsafe. When I started my career as a young software developer in 1980’s, over 30% of college graduates in computer science were women. We were so optimistic that we’d be at 50% in a few years. Today, this number is closer to 8%, creating a great gender imbalance in the industry. I offer counseling in a supportive environment that helps empower the women in technology to grow and seek new opportunities.

ADHD in the Workplace

Adults with ADHD often experience issues with time management, mental organization, inhibition, self-motivation, and concentration significantly more often than the general population. Adults with ADHD are 60% more likely to have been fired, 3 times more likely to have quit impulsively, 30% more likely to report chronic employment difficulties, and 50% more likely to have changed jobs in any given time period. Employers rate them in more negative terms on measures of meeting job expectations, getting along with managers, working independently, and completing assignments. Adults with ADHD often get in trouble by not understanding the expectations of their supervisors’ or their co-workers, by choosing inappropriate career, or by not having the self-confidence to deal with these types of dilemmas.

Many ADHD characteristics violate some of the attributes of the Protestant work ethic revered in our culture. These include consistent performance on interesting and boring tasks, efficient use of time and energy, and the ability to control impulses and delay gratification in order to be highly productive. I offer counseling and coaching for adults with ADHD to trouble-shoot work-related issues, identify and address the obstacles, and move towards more rewarding outcomes. Here is a link to some resources I recommend for my clients with ADHD – ADHD Resources

Career Changers

Switching careers in mid-life is not trivial, and could be quite daunting. Going back to school to earn a new degree when your brain is out of practice requires great perseverance and solid support structures. I know, because I did it myself. After many years in technology, I followed my dream and retrained to become a mental health counselor. It took a great leap of faith and it worked out better than I could have ever imagined. I love counseling and I am passionate about helping people figure out what their next career journey should be.

Career Construction and Life Design

Career Construction and Life Design approach hones in on what  ignites your passion and enables you to express your whole self.  We examine what makes your life more meaningful and how your work can accomplish your deeper purpose. Together we construct your life story to gain new understanding of the consistent themes running through your experiences that form your identity and your place in the world.

Will Assessments Help?

You might have taken interest inventories in the past that did not lead to a more meaningful career. Some assessments are based on career theories from 1930’s and 1960’s and do not translate well in today’s world of work. The only stable and consistent structure that exists in your life today is yourself. I apply the latest 21st century career counseling approaches to help you clarify your key life themes and understand why they matter. You will construct your career proactively, adapting to transitions, staying nimble through adjustments, and resolving career dilemmas. I also offer low-cost career interest inventories and personality tests.

Is Career Counseling Personal?

While issues involving your work will likely come up during personal counseling, personal and career counseling are really two different types of counseling. Personal counseling is designed to treat a specific issue (e.g., anxiety, loneliness, relationship troubles), whereas career counseling is designed specifically to focus on work and career development. We can work together to determine which type of counseling would be most helpful for you at this point.

How Elaine Can Help

In my private practice in SW Portland, I work with clients on issues such as:

  • Choosing a career path
  • Changing careers
  • Deciding whether to leave a company
  • Managing office politics
  • Dealing with layoffs and finding a new job
  • Creating work and life balance
  • Interacting with difficult colleagues
  • Dealing with stress and emotions at work

Elaine’s Blog Posts on Career Counseling

Here is the link to interesting articles for my Career Counseling clients –

Elaine’s Career Counseling Resources

Here is the link to various resources that I mention to my Career Counseling clients –