Context and aims
In Iceland, guidance counsellors generally use typical educational- and vocational guidance tools such as interviewing techniques, interest inventories, portfolio work/CV, information giving, and various exercises linked to self-knowledge, information gathering and decision making, goal setting, VARK (i.e. survey that explores the client´s learning habits), exploration of occupational values, time management and validation of prior learning. The overall aim regarding tools and methods was to identify effective tools, adjust them as needed and train the counsellors in using them as the needs of the target group became apparent. The method group that was created in the beginning of the project was very valuable in that regard.
Tool selection, development and use
According to the programme staff the decision on which tools to use in each case was made on an individual basis. Based on the interviews with the clients and the client´s needs, the counsellors used their own judgement and expertise when they decided what tools should be used. The guidance counsellors received training in using new tools that were believed to be effective when working with the target group (e.g. Motivational Interviewing Technique, Career Adapt-Ability Inventory (CAAI). Group counselling offers were developed and used successfully.
Strengths and achievements
Establishing a method group with stakeholders that interact with the target group on regular basis was very effective. It was especially useful how the group was used to bring forth and identify best practice tools with the target group of the GOAL project. The sharing of knowledge and experience was highly valued by the counsellors. Since the GOAL project allowed for more time than usual with the service user – there was a chance to use a more holistic approach and even touch on existential questions. Tools that are used during educational- and vocational guidance on a regular basis were successfully used with minor adjustments. The counsellors gained knowledge and skills in using new tools (Motivational Interviewing, Career Adapt-Ability Inventory (CAAI) Scale) that were particularly beneficial to the guidance process, counsellors and clients.
Challenges and barriers
During counselling, professional boundaries had to be considered. The target groups’ issues and needs sometimes went beyond the scope of educational- and vocational guidance. When that happened the counsellors did their best in referring the client to other specialists e.g. psychologist, social-worker, financial advisor etc. The service user’s readiness, or lack thereof, was sometimes a barrier. In some cases, the counsellors faced lack of resources e.g. when clients were willing to take the next step, but couldn’t because of lack of finance. The quality of interpreting services needs to be examined. Tools need to be translated and adjusted to meet the needs of immigrants. Useful tools need translation from Icelandic into multiple languages.