‘Building a personal relationship with the client first, rather than focusing on the creation of a productive professional relationship, may be a useful approach.

Since each individual and each situation is unique, it is up to counselors to select and tailor the strategies by taking into account the local realities, the particular needs of each client, and their own strengths and needs as professionals.’ Gabrielle St. Cyr, A Cultural Approach for Career Development Among the Inuit, Careering, Winter 2017.

In a recent discussion with the parent of a teenage high school student, I learned that it is not considered ‘cool’ to talk to the school career counselor.

I wondered why and on digging a little deeper I found that most students do not see the value of going to a career counselor. For one thing, the students often do not think they need any help – remember, at that age, they know everything, so asking anyone for assistance is really admitting they do not know everything.

On top of that, teachers and counselors are really not seen as knowledgeable. The students’ peers are viewed as much more aware of the current trends, with their experiences being real and relevant.

So how do we, as adults, help our kids understand that reality is not the limited
life experience of their peers? Young people have lived through many things in their young lives, often emotional life experiences that certainly leave them traumatized. However, these experiences are not necessarily helpful for jobs or life planning.

And the other side of the coin is that often the career counselors have little or no experience with the types of trauma our native youth may have gone through.

How do the two connect? The career counselors need assistance in understanding our youth, and with the counselors’ heavy and challenging workloads that is not so easy.

Indeed, is it the job of the counselor to have an understanding of their clients, or is their job to provide information to the client? Tough question, as we all know that youth need all the help they can get, but often do not recognize help when it is provided. We also know that career counselors are not social workers.

‘Yet it is critical for career professionals to gain a deeper understanding of the clients they serve and develop culturally effective and appropriate strategies to assist their clients.’ Ben Yang, Overcoming Cultural Differences to Facilitate Integration and Success, Careering, Winter 2017.


L.C Stanley and colleagues are available for training and presentations on Career Development for Native People by contacting SAY Magazine –