Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Recent Career Development Research on Physical Disabilities

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Veterans Day November 11, I gleaned some practice tips from recent research studies on physical disability and career development.

The goal is to inform and link career development practitioners working with disabled clients to research and resources they may not be aware of. 

Why should we pay attention to disability in career development? 
  1. In 2005, one in five U.S. residents reported some level of disability (U.S. Census 2008) with the number rising with large numbers of returning veterans. 
  2. Individuals with disabilities comprise the largest minority group in the United States, with almost half the population living with one or more chronic health conditions. (Foley-Nipcon and Lee, 2012)
Finding: Severity of the disability and age of disability onset matters

When counseling physically disabled individuals, “the perceived severity of the disability and the point in the life span at which it occurred are not negligible details…”*

Study authors found that:
  • Disability severity and age of onset significantly relate self-efficacy with Realistic, Artistic, Social and Conventional domains. Only the Investigative domain had insignificant relation – perhaps because of its focus “on mental tasks performed alone and that require minimal physical mobility."
  •  “[S]elf-rated disability severity does not have a detrimental relation with vocational self-efficacies among those who become disabled early in life.”
  •  By contrast, “individuals who become disabled later in life show a steeply negative relationship between self-rated disability severity and self-efficacies.”
*Tenenbaum, R. Z., Byrne, C. J., and Dahling, J. J. (2014). Interactive Effects of Physical Disability Severity and Age of Disability Onset on RIASEC Self-Efficacies, Journal of Career Assessment, Vol. 22(2) 274-289.  Note: this study did not include anyone with blindness. Please see any other limitations the authors list.

This study supports recommendations in the diverse populations chapter of NCDA’s Career Development Facilitator “Facilitating Career Development: Student Manual (Rev. 2nd Edition). It recommends that practitioners consider when in the lifespan the disability occurred – taking into account possible feelings of loss, guilt and grief.

Additional resources:
National Career Development Association website’s List of Resources for People with Disabilities

Eby, L. T., Johnson, C. D., & Russell, J. E. A. (1998). A psychometric review of career assessment tools for use with diverse individuals. Journal of Career Assessment, 6, 269–310.

Feldman, D. C. (2004). The role of physical disabilities in early career: Vocational choice, the school-to-work transition, and becoming established. Human Resource Management Review, 14, 247–274.

Foley-Nicpon, M., & Lee, S. (2012) Disability research in counseling psychology journals: A 20-year content analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology 59, 392–398.

Peterson, D. B., & Elliott, T. R. (2008). Advances in conceptualizing and studying disability. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of counseling psychology (4th ed., pp. 212–230). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

If you know of other research or resources I have not included, please leave a comment and I will add it to the post.

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