Effects of a Career in Counselling Psychology on the Evolution of Identity

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Kunnel, Michelle
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A career in counselling psychology may have important effects on the identity development of counselling psychologists, through interpersonal work with clients from diverse populations. This literature review examines the experiences of counselling psychologists and graduate students in counselling psychology, and the effects of those experiences on identity development. To define the various facets of identity that may be affected, this review utilizes an intersectional framework and focuses on the specific aspects of age, gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, and religion/spirituality, and how these identity facets are impacted through the experience of working as a counselling psychologist. The experiences of graduate students in counselling psychology are included within the scope of this review, as considerable research has been conducted on this population. The key findings indicate that the effects of the career are largely beneficial, with a high degree of career satisfaction reported world-wide. Vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue can be experienced; however, the literature suggests this may be prevented through self-care and social connection. Common experiences exist across the spectrums of age and gender with respect to self-efficacy and a sense of feeling drawn to the career. As well, the literature indicates that a career in counselling psychology can lead to growth and integration with respect to the multifaceted nature of identity. Implications and recommendations to advance the field of counselling psychology are also discussed.
career in counselling psychology , identity development , intersectionality , career effects