Client case studies are a good way of showing guidance processes in action. We present a series of specific cases below, and examine the outcomes that resulted from the long-term guidance and education processes involved in each case. In three cases, the objectives were successfully achieved, while the last case resulted in a negative outcome. We decided to include this last case in order to show that a successful guidance process does not just require that a counsellor fulfil their role and provide input, but that guidance is a complex process into which clients enter with a range of predispositions, personal circumstances, levels of motivations, and so on.
Client 1: This client stood out because she had not completed primary education and had sought guidance with the aim of completing it. She was highly determined – so much so that when she had achieved her objective, she immediately set herself a new (higher) objective. The guidance did not take place exclusively within the GOAL project, but was a longer process – and the objectives achieved reflect this.
Guidance session prior to the GOAL project:
The client had very low self-esteem because of her failure to complete primary education. She worked in the manufacturing sector (conveyor belt work) and thought that she would be doing that job until retirement. She had three children, one of whom was autistic. She sought guidance in order to obtain information on how to complete her primary education. Prior to and during the guidance process, she went through a divorce and then lost her job. She wished to get back on her feet, look after her children and be an example to them. The counsellor gave her information on her educational options and also organised learning assistance for her at the Adult Education Centre. After consultation with the counsellor, the client also enrolled in a basic computer course (she had never worked with computers before). During the guidance process the counsellor and the client used paper-based tools, completed forms, visited websites, learned the basics of computer use, and so on.
The client achieved the objective she had set: completing her primary education. This increased her motivation to continue to work and improve her skills. In collaboration with the counsellor, the client then set about identifying her skills. Through voluntary work she developed exceptional empathy towards the elderly, particularly those suffering from dementia and, as a result of her own experiences, towards children with special needs, particularly autism and Down’s Syndrome. She decided to obtain a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in home care provision. As national vocational qualifications are subject to a fee payable by the student, the counsellor and client agreed to ask for financial help from the Employment Service. The Employment Service approved funding for the home care provision NVQ, and then offered her the option of studying for a second NVQ (chambermaid), which she also passed.
Guidance sessions within the GOAL project:
The client performed voluntary work through a social work centre as a home care provider and found that this was the work that she wanted to do. She wanted to find employment as a home care provider, but this required her to first complete a vocational education programme. The client was prepared to satisfy this requirement as well in order to take up her desired profession; she therefore sought guidance from the counsellor regarding her next steps. The two of them decided that she would enrol in the “Retail” secondary vocational programme. As the programme was not free of charge, they set a task for the next step: for the client to seek employment so that she could pay the fees.
The client again found employment in the manufacturing sector (conveyor belt work), performing physical work in difficult conditions. However, her objectives had been clearly set out and she knew that this was only a temporary phase that would allow her to obtain a vocational qualification and find employment as a home care provider. She had acquired considerable experience through her work as an active volunteer, as well as making a large number of contacts that would help her find employment after her studies.
The client was highly motivated and has changed her way of thinking. At the company she encouraged women who were in a similar situation to the one in which she found herself to take free courses and realise that they can have control over their own lives; she also became angry if they surrendered themselves to fate and did not want to help themselves. The plan compiled by the client and counsellor is to complete vocational education; the client will also take a German language course. There are no further sessions planned, nor have any specific tasks been set. The client is now entirely independent and may seek guidance if she wishes to have a chat or requires assistance. The counsellor is extremely satisfied with the client’s work and progress, and believes that she will definitely achieve her objective.
Client 2: The client, a long-term unemployed person, was referred for guidance as part of a 14-person group by the Employment Service. She had no specific wishes, but it was agreed that the whole group would attend an education programme in which they expressed an interest or need.
- Session 1: The client outlined her history and the problems she faced. She was a seamstress by training (she had completed secondary vocational studies) and had been unemployed for a considerable period of time. An injury meant that she had disabled status and problems with her back. Her profession and her injury meant that she was difficult to employ. The client stated that her financial situation was a major obstacle to progress. Moreover, she was unemployed, as was her adult son (who had not completed secondary education), and a lack of funds meant that they both lived in difficult circumstances in a homeless shelter. At the first guidance session, they discussed the client’s formal education and the options regarding the education she might be able to undertake. They focused in particular on re-qualification and National Vocational Qualifications, as demand for seamstresses was very low in Slovenia. As the client showed an interest in and talent for art, they considered the workshops for developing artistic skills organised at the Centre for Inter-Generational Learning (CMU). They also decided that she would take a computer course. Initially, the client had no specific wishes; nevertheless, the counsellor presented her with the options of where she might study and encouraged her in this. The client had a strong will and desire, but was restricted to free-of-charge education because of her financial situation. Nevertheless, they tried to ensure that any course would match her interests, otherwise, she would not choose to take it. They set the majority of the objectives at the very first session; these were supplemented or upgraded at subsequent sessions. The objectives were as follows: participation in a 30-hour computer course, evaluation of English-language comprehension skills and the acquisition of a certificate, preparation of a portfolio and enrolment in a beginner’s course in German.
- Session 2: At the second session, client and counsellor completed all the documentation and evaluated her English skills.
- Session 3: At the third guidance session, they agreed to prepare a portfolio, discussed what it could include and began the process of producing it. They also looked at the options for the client finding employment in line with her artistic skills.
- Session 4: The client received feedback on her foreign language evaluation and enrolled, at the counsellor’s suggestion, in a business etiquette workshop, which would teach her how to present herself in a business context and in job interviews.
- Session 5: At this session they intensified preparations to enable the client to look for personal supplementary work on her own. The counsellor referred the client to a company, which would help her produce a business-financial plan. The client produced a number of different products, but not for income. She expressed a wish to work as a tattooist in her own tattoo parlour.
- Session 6 and subsequent sessions: The client was unsuccessful at Invel (an organisation engaged in occupational rehabilitation and the employment of disabled workers), who told her that her idea was not yet fully formed. They therefore declined to produce a business-financial plan and she received information on further steps. The counsellor and client reviewed the portfolio and decided on the next task: enrolment in a German course.
The client continued to attend guidance sessions, but the counsellor stopped making a record of the sessions. Later on in a guidance session, the client told the counsellor that she had been an alcoholic when she entered the guidance process and that she had wanted to commit suicide; however, she decided at the last moment to seek treatment. In the course of the guidance process, the counsellor noticed major personality changes in the client, who had changed her way of thinking, become motivated and energised, taken up new hobbies and to care about her appearance. The counsellor believes that these changes were brought about by the rehabilitation programme, the guidance process and her membership of the group with whom she had sought guidance (they encouraged each other, all of them had one-to-one sessions with the counsellor, attended courses together, etc.). Despite the fact that financial and health problems dogged her throughout (she later became ill with diabetes), the client remained positive and determined to achieve her objectives.
As agreed, the client enrolled in a German course and completed it successfully. The counsellor also outlined to her the option of taking an NVQ in Bookkeeping free of charge via the Employment Service. Her objective was requalification or the acquisition of an NVQ, as she would be unable to find work as a seamstress. The client attended NVQ preparatory sessions and is just about to obtain the certificate. The client’s son also took part in a guidance process and subsequently found employment. They were then able to move into a rented apartment.
Client 3: This case study was presented by an adult education counsellor within the GOAL project whose position at the secondary education centre was that of adult education organiser; she also taught mathematics to adults. The client arrived at the secondary education centre as someone who had completed secondary-level hairdressing studies. She then decided to continue her education, but her inclination to do so had been tempered by the need to balance work, daily obligations and education. She therefore turned to an adult education counsellor for help. This case study involves a long-term guidance and education process that cannot fully be broken down here into individual sessions.
- Session 1: The client had completed an adult education hairdressing programme and then, at her employer’s suggestion, decided to continue studies at a technical college. She turned to the counsellor because, after several lectures, she had begun to despair of being able to meet her study obligations because of her obligations at work and at home. The client had taken a very active part in the lessons, but abandoned her studies because of her excessive outside obligations. She explained her situation to the counsellor: that she was employed on a factory conveyor belt and that her employer had offered her the option of advancing if she completed technical college studies. She therefore decided to pursue higher professional education studies. She was employed part-time (at her own request) because she had two young children and this was the only way she could balance family, work and study. She turned to the counsellor in order to find a way of studying successfully and with as little stress as possible as she tried to juggle family, household, work and low pay. The counsellor began working with her on a one-to-one basis, and also sent revision material and homework to her home address. The counsellor and client agreed on weekly sessions if required, and that the client could consult the counsellor on every occasion following a lecture if she had any questions. They also agreed that would keep an eye on whether the client was taking her examinations as required or whether she was encountering obstacles or required help.
- Session 2: The client became more independent and self-confident, daring to ask questions if there was something she did not understand during a lesson. Before that she had been reserved and kept herself to herself (as the counsellor explained, there were fewer women at the secondary education centre and they normally sat away from the men); now she became more communicative and began to open up to others. Exhaustion meant that her motivation was still problematic. However, the counsellor noticed that she was making rapid progress and had become more determined. The counsellor explained that she compiles a personal education plan with clients in a methodical way by encouraging them to start out by taking subjects that are shorter and less demanding; this enables them to gain good marks more quickly, thereby motivating them to ready themselves for more extensive subjects of longer duration.
- Session 3: Using the centre’s online system, the counsellor checked whether the client was taking her examinations as scheduled. As the client missed the examination deadline, the counsellor invited the client to a meeting to determine the reason, and learned that the client had been unable to arrange childcare for the period in question. They therefore agreed that the client would inform the counsellor if such cases arose again and agree on a deadline that suited her.
- Session 4 and subsequent sessions: The client passed her examinations and was now in a position to take the upper-secondary vocational certificate. As all the examinations and tests had so far been written (with some subjects also being examined by colloquium so that students could take them in instalments) but the upper-secondary vocational certificate was to be examined before a committee and covered an entire subject, the counsellor noticed that she had begun to feel a general sense of panic in the month leading up to the examination. The counsellor gave the client general tips on how to combat stress, increase concentration levels, etc., as well as advice on learning, e.g. how to break a subject down, how to learn “smart”, and so on. In order to do this, the counsellor cancelled one of the mathematics lessons and devoted the time to the GOAL project in the form of a “learning to learn” workshop.
The client completed her studies successfully, so the counsellor suggested that she enrol in a higher education programme. However, the client decided to take a break. When the counsellor contacted the client a few months later asking her if she would attend a GOAL project follow-up interview, the client said that she had reconsidered, had decided to enrol in higher education studies, and was satisfied with her studies, which were going well. They had no further sessions, but agreed that the client would contact the counsellor if she had any further study-related problems.
This case study relates to a client who, before his participation in the GOAL project, had sought information on education programmes over a number of years but had never actually opted to take one. He took part in two guidance sessions within the GOAL project, but then abandoned guidance as well as education.
- Session 1: The client again approached the counsellor with questions regarding courses for veterinary technicians, as he had done so on many occasions in the past. The counsellor was already familiar with the client’s history. The client worked as a volunteer zookeeper. The difference on this occasion was that he had been offered employment at a veterinary clinic, on condition that he enrolled in a veterinary technician’s programme. At the start of the guidance process, the client was unemployed, although an employer had promised to employ him as soon as he enrolled in the programme. The counsellor explained to the client that, if he worked at the veterinary clinic, that work would be counted as practical training as part of the programme. She did, however, explain to him that students were not usually sent for practical training straight away but were required to first acquire basic theoretical knowledge; this would present him in the best possible light to the employer offering him practical training. However, as the client was unemployed and needed funds to enrol in the programme, he expressed a wish to start work immediately. Counsellor and client designed a personal education plan setting out a timetable of activities and prioritising the basic subjects necessary for further learning and work (as is normal), as well as easier subjects that would motivate the student and increase his self-confidence. Students are also able to engage in consultations with teaching staff should they have any questions related to individual subjects.
- Session 2: The client was already in part-time employment by the second session (the employer had employed him on the basis of his enrolment certificate). The client expressed optimism regarding employment and education, but decided not to attend lectures as his employment obligations would not give him the time to do so. The counsellor asked him to take part in a series of interviews as a successful GOAL project case (motivated, encouraged by employer), but he declined. This was when the counsellor realised that something was not quite right with the client.
In the months that followed, the client stopped attending sessions and was no longer keeping to his personal education plan. The counsellor telephoned him to found out what was happening. On this occasion, the client told her the whole story: that he had suffered humiliation at work (his employer had insulted and humiliated him in front of clients and other employees, claiming that “he had no idea what he was doing”). In addition to this, despite the original agreement that he would be enabled to attend examinations, his work schedule was changed at the last minute, making it impossible for him to attend. He was deeply disappointed, as he really wanted to work and, given that the employer had offered him the opportunity, his expectations were high.
The client has abandoned the programme and was no longer working at the veterinary clinic. He was now back at the zoo as a volunteer zookeeper. He decided that he was in no state to continue his studies. The counsellor made it known to him that he could contact her when he needed help; in the meantime, there was nothing to do but wait until he decided to enrol again.