This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Cross-Sectional Examination of Career Counseling Initiation: Considerations of the Impact of COVID-19




Stallings, Erica

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


The purpose of the current study was to gain an understanding of the differences related to the capability dimension of readiness for career choice in college students as measured by career thoughts, career state, and occupational choice self-efficacy when initiating career counseling prior to and during COVID-19. Research indicates that students who have dysfunctional career thoughts, lower self-efficacy, and higher career indecision while experiencing high or significant life complexities are at risk of depression, anxiety, and becoming stuck or paralyzed in the career decision making processes (Dierenger et al., 2016; Hayden & Osborn, 2020; Saunders, Peterson et al., 2000; Walker & Peterson, 2012). Additionally, research indicates that the cognitive and an emotion-based processes of career decision making are confounded by negative complexities (Bullock-Yowell et al., 2011b; Hayden & Osborn, 2020; Sampson et al. 2004), as those experienced by many during the COVID-19 pandemic, related to economic concerns, familial and social support, and the job market. This study explored a cross-section of participants who initiated career counseling prior to COVID-19, as well as participants who initiated career counseling during the COVID-19 pandemic utilizing archival data to develop a greater understanding of the implications of two time-periods with differing global complexity factors and the implications on the initiation of career counseling through a Cognitive Information Processing theoretical lens. Implications were developed for counselors, counselor educators, as well as for future research related to career counseling during times of crisis, with an emphasis on readiness for career choice through the relationship between the dimensions of capability and complexity.