According to Oxford Dictionaries, theories serve multiple purposes: “to explain something,” to offer “principles on which . . . practice . . . is based,” and “to account for a situation or justify a course of action.”
For Career Development Practitioners (CDPs), as well as for other helping professionals, theory is essential to our practice. Working from a theoretical foundation (i.e., a foundation with explanations, principles, and justification for why we do what we do) is what sets us apart from well-meaning friends, colleagues, and family members who, though they may have lots of opinions and advice for someone who is unemployed or in a career transition, can’t back up their recommendations with theory.
There are a variety of certifications for CDPs, as well as standards and guidelines for professional competencies. Having a theoretical knowledge base to inform competent practice is an essential element of these frameworks. Despite a recognition and respect for professionals entering the career development sector from a wide range of other professional backgrounds, one of the two unique bodies of knowledge required for certification within most Canadian jurisdictions is a course in theories.
Theories are not static in this sector. Therefore, just having taken one theories course at some point in your career doesn’t mean you’re “done.” Theorists continue to research and revise their understanding of career development, especially within our rapidly changing economies and workplaces. If you’re looking for some continuing education in this foundational area, consider:
- CEU One Stop’s Fundamentals of Career Development Theories (a self-paced online course)
- Life Strategies’ Career Development Foundations, Emerging Theories, and Models (a 2-week online course, beginning next on January 10, 2018)
- Reading the Theoretical Foundations of Career Development chapter in CERIC’s Career Development Practice in Canada textbook (a free download)