Client cases

The following case studies are based on qualitative data from the counsellor’s registration system (the counsellor’s description of actions during the sessions), and are written from the counsellor’s perspective. The case studies provide examples of how a custom fit guidance path looks and how guidance paths may differ, depending on client needs. Cases were written by the Icelandic GOAL counsellors.

Client 1: Male, 58 years old, married, has two children, teenagers.  Is now in vocational rehabilitation.

Main hindrances are anxiety, insecurity, as well as he has trouble with connecting to others, is rather unsociable/reclusive.

When he started vocational rehabilitation he had been struggling with physical pains, musculoskeletal disorders and chronic muscular rheumatism with mental problems, anxiety and sleeping disorders. He had difficulty conducting his job because of the above-mentioned problems, as well as having had a collision on his way home from work one day. The anxiety had an impact on him. He experienced increased anxiety and stress related to returning to work. He found himself constantly under stress. He was anxious about communication and projects at work, because of his physical condition. He was referred to the GOAL project by a consultant at the rehabilitation centre.

  • 1st Interview: In the first interview we discussed options that the GOAL project offered. I Presented to him an Interest inventory, told him about, and discussed, the importance of pursuing what he wants to do. We discussed potential occupational obstacles which in his case include asthma, work-related conditions and anxiety (also lack of intuition). We discussed possible steps and his interests. His dream is to work in construction, and he would like to be a construction teacher in elementary school, but he thinks he isn´t able to do it, because he claims to work very slowly (his own words). We discussed the importance of having faith in one’s own ability and do what makes you happy. The client is very handy and capable of construction work. He has an education in cabinetmaking.
  • 2nd Interview: Self-esteem and well-being was introduced and discussed.  Possible jobs were discussed again and whether he had seen/thought of something new. He was encouraged and I am examining potential job training places. Then we discussed what would happen if he would be invited to an interview for a job training.  Things that matter on a job interview were discussed. We also talked about his aims, “where do I want to go”.  We discussed the importance of believing in oneself and expanding one’s own comfort zone. We also discussed the connection between well-being and physical appearance - how we appear to others. Changes in the labour market, Life Long Learning and aging were also discussed. Next steps - make a CV and an introductory letter. He took home a Competency Portfolio form which he intends to examine and start working on. We talked about the progress he has already made and how important it is to notice the progress of his steps. He got homework (task/assignment) - My Achievement and Employability skills. Important to spot these elements, the tasks are designed to help him do that.
  • 3rd Interview: In the meantime, the client had participated in a workshop where he wrote his CV and an introductory letter.  Then his interests were discussed and he did an Interest inventory
  • 4th Interview: Results from the Interest inventory were reviewed and discussed.
  • 5th Interview: Coaching – an interview with a Coach.
  • 6th Interview: He answered the Career Adapt-Ability Inventory (CAAI). His situation was discussed and his experience of the Coaching.
  • 7th Interview: Career Adapt-Ability Inventory (CAAI) results reviewed. We reviewed the factors in which he scored low and possible reasons - potential remedies. The client has started in job training. We discussed his strengths, weaknesses and his resources. Also what matters apart from the written job description – the unlisted job description (e.g. how to behave in social settings, friendliness, tidiness and general courtesy). Next we will review how he is doing at the new job training. The client had already participated in two job trainings which did not work out/ he quit. Therefore, we considered it important to go through these aspects for the next job training. Next time there will be a final interview. The client has got a job training where he is doing well (it is the third place he has had job training). Today he will finish the program at the rehabilitation centre. He has got higher self-esteem and is more aware of his own skills.

Client 2: came to Iceland as an asylum seeker in 2011, along with her husband and their baby. They settled in and began Icelandic studies, but soon moved away from the area and both got jobs in a factory. She received an Icelandic ID number in 2013. They moved back to the area in early 2016 and got an apartment. Then the family had grown, two more children had joined the group. They continued studying Icelandic, but she spoke very little Icelandic and no English. She was therefore very socially isolated and dependent on her husband who spoke good English and interpreted everything for her. The client’s native community in Iceland is very small and therefore she did not have contact with many outside her family. The program at the LLL-centre was her only social forum. In August 2016, the couple divorced and her ex-husband moved to another country. She had fallen pregnant with their fourth child. She joined the GOAL project in December 2016, but I had known her through the School of Immigrants. She has very little formal education other than compulsory schooling in her native country. She is now a single mother with three children between the ages of two and seven, expecting the fourth child in April 2017. She has support from the welfare services and is doing well enough to make ends meet. She has little experience in the labour market since she has been busy with childcare. However, she has some experience in fish processing, child welfare and household support.

  • 1st Interview: We discussed her circumstances as a single mother with little Icelandic skills. She wants to be able to work in an office in the future. She wants to study, is positive and optimistic despite her difficult circumstances. She made a Competence portfolio and we made an individualised action-plan for the next steps. The plan should help her take the next step, taking into account her circumstances, set goals and enhance her self-image. Next, she will answer an Interest inventory, if it will be available in English. Most interviews are conducted with an interpreter that speaks her native language and interprets back to me (the counsellor) in English.
  • 2nd Interview: No interpreter was available, so we decided to do the Interest Inventory later, there were many other urgent tasks. The client’s Icelandic study was discussed. She is practicing at home on the computer and watching Icelandic material. We also discussed her children's homework. She would like to be able to better support her daughter's studies. Her daughter is starting in a special department in a new school. I urged her to help her with her reading and practice Icelandic at the same time. I taught her ways to do so. I got her permission to talk to her consultant at the Social Services to look for resources for her children. Her goal today is to strengthen her Icelandic skills by taking part in the program. She wants to be able to help her children more at home.
  • 3rd Interview: She came along with an interpreter and requested a certificate for studying in Iceland, because she is applying for a passport. I registered her for an Icelandic course and she starts Monday, this will also reinforce her socially. Before she came to this interview, I had talked to her consultant at Family and Social Services. We will work together to support her well-being. The consultant is currently exploring a PMT (Parent Management Training) course for her. She is also listed in group counselling (course on self-esteem and communication that will be conducted on behalf of the GOAL project).
  • 4th Interview: She participated in the course Self-esteem and Communication. She also participated in discussions and exercises after a lecture on the subject.
  • 5th Interview: She is due after a month with her fourth child. She is alone with no support/network in Iceland, as native society in Iceland is very small and her family is all in her native country. Her former husband has moved to another country and refused to transfer his residence from Iceland for a long time because he did not want to pay her child support. In cooperation with the social authorities, district commissioner and the State Social Security Agency, we have assisted her with getting that corrected. She has gotten a new apartment through the Municipality and should have returned the old one this week. She is exhausted and very sad. She does not know if she is getting help (with her moving) and I advised her to go to her consultant at the Social Services and make sure immediately. I will also talk to the consultant to follow up on it. There was very little else I could do but console her. I contacted her consultant at the Social services, who is also very concerned about her situation and promised to assist her. It went well and the next time I talked to her she was very cheerful and grateful for all the help she got. I have, among other things, been in contact with the Red Cross, the rehabilitation centre and the Church's Welfare Fund to get clothing and equipment for the unborn child and the other children. I have a good relationship with her consultant at the Family and Social Services. 

    Her personal action-plan was based on her circumstances and her life struggles, which have to do with her being a single parent with three children and the fourth on the way. She doesn’t have energy for much else. However, there is no question in my mind that this hardworking and courageous woman will achieve her goals, given that she receives all the support she is entitled to as an Icelandic citizen. Her priorities are clear. She knows that she has to study Icelandic because that is the key to achieving her goal of working in an office in the future. The only formal option that she took part in was the group counselling Self-image and Communication which the GOAL counsellors had prepared and adjusted to the needs of the group at hand. She participated in group counselling, but needs further support with learning Icelandic and solving personal issues. Her individual plan has been based on her circumstances that are largely shaped by being a single parent with many children.  While her time and energy is devoted to her children, there is not much time left for other activities. There is no question in my mind that in due time she will reach her goals. Her priorities are clear.  She is resourceful and takes good care of her finances, even though she does not have much. Her self-image has grown stronger these last months. I think, after her husband left her, at a very difficult time, she has shown tremendous survival skills and efficiency. With every obstacle she overcomes, she gets stronger. She receives financial support through the Municipality offices in her area.



"GOAL interview: a client came to discuss a program for validation of employability skills, in which she is going to participate."

"In-house discussions with other counsellors and project managers on an unexpected issue with a student. We tried to solve the issue together. We had to contact another school."


“Presentation for unemployed people about possibilities to get involved into the Goal project and get free of charge orientation and guidance.”

“Orientation and guidance of adult people. 2 clients are consulted: they are unemployed and have plans for learning a new profession in order to find a job.“


“The prison population and educational needs of the detainees are far from homogeneous.”

 “Usually, there are 6 to 8 detainees at a time, each with an individual program. I guide them. The guidance can be focused on basic education, vocational education or specific courses detainees are taking at that time”


"Working with clients gives me energy and brings me joy, because between individual sessions I can see progress, changes, new beliefs, enrolment in education programmes and I can build good relationships with my clients."


"The feeling that I do a lot of good for my clients is priceless."

Czech Republic
Czech Republic

“At the start of every session, counsellors try to gather information about the client, his or her position within the family and wider friendship circles, and his or her health. They also explore the client’s feelings, ideas and motivation.”

“Based on the client’s answers, the counsellor selects ways to proceed in order to meet the client’s needs and goals.”


"All information, agreements made and steps taken during sessions are written down in the registration system"

“Even the names of persons clients have been talking about are registered in order to remember the whole communication line and, more importantly, to avoid them having to say things twice. It creates a sense of trust with our clients.”


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