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Work, Vocation, and Self

A New Model for Using Process Work in Career Development

Alan Richardson and Peter Hands

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age…
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood…

Dylan Thomas, 1934


Life is such a mystery! Our eternal quest is to find meaning and understand the life force that takes us from embryo to adult and then withdraws, leaving us to return to stardust once more. We live amidst cycles and seasons that are beyond our understanding. We ask ourselves, am I “to be or not to be?” We wonder whether there is a “ghost in the machine,” undermining our egocentric efforts to control the course of our lives.

Throughout history, the living universe has fascinated us. We inhabit an expanding universe, which replicates itself as an infinite number of worlds with cycles and spirals of radiating energy fields projected out from a central core, a nucleus, a perceived centeredness. Many teachers and writers have explored this tendency toward “growth” in human beings. The ancient Taoists saw life’s way of relentless unfolding. More recently, psychological and philosophical thinkers have spoken about our organismic urge toward “actualization” and “individuation”—toward becoming more fully ourselves, giving form and expression to more of our potentialities.

The capacity to follow, and assist, this actualizing process can be seen as the most fundamental type of human intelligence. However, it seems that different people, at different moments in our lives, have this intelligence to different degrees. Sometimes we are energized about change; sometimes we get stuck off the dragon lines of the Tao, and sometimes we exhaust ourselves fighting the flow. Process work, like other life facilitation traditions, aims to help us move in this process of becoming. It aims to cultivate awareness, skills, and the capacity to embrace diversity and the unexpected. In short, it aims to facilitate the intelligence needed for greater self-actualizing.

In this article, we propose a new, process oriented model of how our sense of self evolves. It is a dynamic model, representing the continual interactions within ourselves and with others. Our life processes manifest in time and space: hence, this model is 4-dimensional.

Work as Life Process

While we believe the model outlined in this article offers tools for facilitating a wide range of client processes, we have used a career focus for several reasons. Work has a centrality in so many cultures and so many ways. It is often a dominant source of social identity and status— how often we get asked by strangers “what do you do?” (i.e. for a living). Work is the foundation of our educational systems, which are driven increasingly by policies that require courses of study to have direct vocational relevance, at least in Australia. Indeed, James Hillman1 has characterized work as the problem of human life. This idea derives originally from Marx, but Hillman means it in a psychological sense—what are we to do with our lives— rather than in the purely economic sense that Marx2 had in mind.

In our observation there is an increasing need for “personal” therapy around work related issues. Many work roles impose escalating demands on our time and energy, as do the challenges of ensuring ongoing employment and of developing a portfolio of life-work activities. Moreover, there are often profound tensions between our personal sense of who we want to be, and whatever socially-prescribed working self we need to conform to in order to get on in the world. The workplace forces us to develop certain personae, but adapting to these may come at a huge personal cost to our unique selves. Many work-related physical and mental health problems could be traced to this conflict between our adopted, and our innate or preferred, sense of self.

“Downshifting” is now a global phenomenon, with many successful people choosing less money and status in order to have more freedom and self-determination. Similarly, society tends to marginalize those who cannot, or will not, develop an adaptive, conventional working self. There are major financial implications in being unemployed or underemployed over extended periods of time, which can lead to psychological difficulties and reduced life opportunities such as the inability to afford a house or children.

Generalist practitioners often ask us how to handle work-related issues, because these are almost invariably part of their clients’ presenting problems. Increasingly, “work” and “personal” issues are interconnected. Hence, “career” is typically just one possible entry point into whole-of-life counseling.

Despite the centrality of work in our lives, career counseling remains very much the “poor cousin” within the community of psychotherapists, psychologists and helping professionals generally. There is a marked lack of competing paradigms and approaches for vocational interventions, and a lack of practical research or guidance on how to facilitate the development of identity through career. Also, we perceive a relative lack of published writings on work issues in the existing Process Work literature. By giving this article a career focus, we hope to begin the task of filling these gaps. Finally, we found that work-related examples gave us wonderfully clear illustrations of our new model in action, showing how it can guide practice in ways that conventional career counseling systems do not.

Identity and Our Evolutionary Intelligence

Evolutionary Intelligence can be defined in broad terms as the ability to foster our actualizing processes, and therefore development of the self. We can then describe the work-related aspects of this intelligence as Vocational Identity or the Working Self as a core aspect of our sense of self in the present, and Vocational Intelligence is the means by which we develop this identity.

Our model portrays the feedback system, which we will discuss with the model, through which we increase self-actualization through activities such as work. Work can be defined to include paid work, as well as more broadly to connect with the voice in vocare—our sense of our life’s callings. Vocation extends far beyond work in conventional terms, to embrace many aspects of our lives. For example, we may find a sense of calling and life-purpose in a profession, parenting, or the creative arts.

Vocational Intelligence comprises the numerous resources and intra- and interpersonal skills needed in order to negotiate this dialectic between one’s current self, continual, diverse feedback, and the evolutionary process of enhancing the working self-concept. In a climate of relative job stability, and a less competitive workplace, Vocational Intelligence was an optional extra. In today’s volatile workplace, it is essential—to survive, and thrive, we have to be smarter. We need Vocational Intelligence in order to manage our careers, and find meaning and satisfaction through work.

Without Vocational Intelligence, we will pay the practical and emotional price of struggling to find regular employment and stable income, not to mention sufficient fulfillment in our work roles. We cannot expect our past work experiences to simply endure and to continue to provide forever whatever rewards we have found in our existing roles. Our goals, like our identities, need to be fluid and flexible. This brings certain fears, but also allows the excitement of new possibilities.

In the remainder of this article, we will introduce an overview of our model of identity development, and then present a work-related case study that we will use to explore the model in detail.



The nucleus of this system is our sense of “self” in the moment, as an experientialphenomenological construct. This Present Self is embedded in four feedback loops, each of which represents a continual influx of information. These are feedback loops because there is a process of ongoing, cyclical dialogue between the Present Self and this information, with each influencing the other.

Our focus of attention moves around this system, engaging with the most salient signals, but potentially all information has an impact on the way in which our sense of self develops. Like an organism, this system strives to be self-regulating and homeostatic. There is a continual dynamic of re-evaluation and integration in order to resolve the recurring dialectical tensions between our current self-concepts and the information/feedback we receive. Life can be seen as a perpetual flow of re-adjustment and self-transformation.

All information is processed in the present temporal dimension, the “now.” At any given moment, many different signals and experiences will be present, and each will fall at different points along a continuum between the conceptual poles of primary and secondary processes. This is represented by the two vertical feedback loops. Furthermore, information from the Past and Future dimensions, represented by the two horizontal feedback loops, enters the present, and in turn falls somewhere on the primary-secondary continuum. For all of the feedback loops, the self encounters information derived from “inner” processes such as memories of events as well as “outer”sources such as familial expectations. Finally, information within any of the four feedback loops may be experienced in any of the channels of perception (auditory, visual, movement,proprioception, relationship, and world). Holographic patterns are found throughout the system.

A Career-Related Case Study

In writing this article our main intention was to provide a process-oriented theory of how the self “grows,” highlighting its psychotherapeutic importance. However, our audiotape of discussions in preparation for the article was mixed with small talk about our lives. Our primary process was to write a rigorous, academic research paper. Perhaps not surprisingly, we found our personal stories “intruding.” These more secondary processes were a reflection of how the model has grown out of lived experience as well as sessions with our clients.

One conversation illustrated the practical usefulness of the model we were espousing in theory. As we talked, we realized how this small fragment contained the seeds of an entire theoretical model. By deepening and “recycling” an experience that we could easily have discarded as unimportant, we discovered a delightful parallel between our conceptual thinking and current life challenges. This is an edited summary of our dialogue.

Peter: I’ve been wondering about whether to take the teaching job at University. My first reaction was, “No, it’s too soon, it’s too much commuting.” So I told them, probably not… Then two days later, I’m thinking, “My God, that’s my dream job.”

Alan: Which you just knocked back!

Peter: For years, I have been angry when people call me an academic, an intellectual, a conservative… Because “academic” is such a put-down… you know, ivory towers, disconnected from real life.

Alan: So, these are all the things you do not want to become, or have others perceive as your strongest traits. It is important for you to distance yourself from these qualities. Maybe then you are free to step into the new role, and expanded sense of self. Other people were supporting aspects of you that you did not support or even want to support in yourself, or at least not yet.

Peter: Once I get past the label, I am really excited by what the job involves in practice.

Alan: Not only that, your dream supports it better then you did in the moment. You say, that’s my dream job, but not yet, it’s me in the future, not now. But the relationship and world channel signals tell you that it’s already you.

Peter: And I say to myself, perhaps I can be open to that; after all, it’s only parttime, so I’m much more than an academic, I can keep my work on my Ph.D. and all the other things I want to do.

Alan: So your present self-concept starts to shift. Your plan for the future says, loud and clear, this is an important part of who you want to become.

Peter: Yes… then I reflected on information I already have, and realize that I already have enough skills to do a “good enough” job.

Alan: Amongst all that, there is rigidity in your present self about the order in which your career should unfold. In the future you are more supportive, and on the side of the people saying you would be good at it. This shows how projections onto the future can be so valuable, perhaps even more valuable than your current selfperceptions, in which you are still grappling with negative reactions to past events.

Peter: Yes, I’m still trying to emerge out of an earlier identity as lawyer, which was so excessively intellectual, and become something more.

Alan: This is how we re-evaluate the past: you want to be more feeling, more people-oriented, more adventurous (here I’m guessing like crazy!), so you rebel against people calling you an academic. Then you start to wonder, “Perhaps I can take some of my intellectual skills into the future, now that I have lots of other things that balance it.”

Peter: When I looked at the job, and what it really entails, suddenly it was very much “me,” and who I want to be right now. Not only that, for a couple of years I have wanted to teach the subjects you teach in the Masters program… one day, anyway, when I have more clinical experience behind me.

Alan: So you have a visual channel image of the job—you said you “looked at it”— which was perhaps the least rigid feedback of all. You could see yourself in the role really enjoying it. At first it was projected onto me, and still felt very secondary, and then your present self had enough information to move forward. Your visual image of Peter as a certain type of academic became a primary process, and you started saying yes to it all. Not only that, you are even re-evaluating your attitude to labels from the past that carry lots of baggage.

Peter: Yes, I can feel the debate going on inside me between my past habits of perfectionism and performance anxiety, versus a fair appraisal of all the ground I have already covered, which is quite a lot, and a desire to take on new challenges, to grow into the job. I’m trying to learn that it’s okay to make mistakes, take risks, open up to unexpected things, not have to master and control everything. This job would be a perfect mix of the known and the unknown, of old and new skills.

Alan: What you are saying is that time, and timing, was crucial here. Your sense that “it is too soon” was an inhibitor. Then collapsing time gave you the solution. You collapsed your projection onto a time a few years away, and realized that part of you is already that person, already acting like the person you dream of being.

Peter: Which other people can see, so they offer me the job.

Alan: Exactly! They see this secondary side of you in the present, whereas you get anxious or whatever, and think it is better expressed somewhere in the future, when you’re “ready.” Maybe there is a projection in space as well, onto a future office with your shiny Ph.D. on the wall and whatever else you need to feel confident enough.

Peter: I have been negotiating the feedback coming from various sources—wanting a particular vocational identity, but marginalizing the signals that say, “That’s who you are right now.”

Alan: So by collapsing the time frame, you could support yourself in the present, not just in the future. You had to recognize, and withdraw the projection while keeping it as well, because it is your motivation behind taking on a massive Ph.D., and your motivation to take on fresh challenges. Another way of thinking about this collapse of time is to see how the future is already happening in the present, which other people recognized before you did. Maybe space and time are channels for different information than what appears to be in the here and now…

Peter: So now, whether or not I take the job, I have gained a whole new sense of who I am in the world, and what I can realistically tackle… right now. Great stuff!

Alan: Hey, we should write the article about this!

From there, our discussion turned to general questions about the role of work in our lives – and about how to provide comprehensive and effective career facilitation to our clients. We then agreed on three important ideas. Firstly, the struggles with identity development in Peter’s case study are present in many, and perhaps all, work-related problems. Secondly, the existing approaches to vocational counseling neglect the vital psychological processes around the self. Finally, work is used to define a sense of self throughout the world: from the desperation of work-for-survival in developing countries, to the search for an individual’s working identity in the old Soviet bloc countries, to the hunger for personal fulfillment and meaning in the commercial faddism and highly corporate first world.

The Present Self

At the center lies our sense of identity, and our experience of a paradoxical self, one that is both separate as a unique individual, yet at the same time defined by reference to the world around us and embedded in a highly relational, interconnected system.

A highly complex, phenomenological cluster of experiences forms the self. To some extent, experiences recur over time: thus we can speak of a stable self-concept, or “our personality.” This core construct is the basis for psychometric testing. Nevertheless, history and research tell us unequivocally that our self-perceptions are also highly changeable across different contexts—to a considerable degree we are environmentally, socially and culturally determined beings. Hence the wise if sometimes sobering old saying, “nothing human is foreign to me.”

Other traditions, such as Jung’s Analytic Psychology and Assagioli’s Psychosynthesis, describe a hierarchy of selves: the lower, egocentred self, and higher, transpersonal Self. Cognitive psychology, alongside post modernist theory, abandons the notion of a single, unitary self and describes a multiplicity of “selves.” These perspectives raise difficult questions, and happily we do not need to resolve them for the purposes of this new model.

Instead, the “Present Self” for the purposes of this system is the person negotiating an array of feedback and experiences in the present moment. It is defined in our model as the entity that experiences the process of dialogue with information coming through the four feedback loops.

The person’s “identity” consists of selfreported phenomenology, i.e., their experiences in that moment. These include things like their self-concept, sense of place in their world, motivation, values, sources of meaning and satisfaction, perceived competence/abilities/resources, interests, priorities, and agendas. Importantly, the Present Self includes our metacommunicator, our awareness of the experience of processing. At the heart of “me” lies a consciousness of existence and experience.

The cornerstone of traditional career counseling/guidance is the fantasy of person-environment fit. Through psychometric testing, and rational matching to “suitable” work-types, we hope to assist clients into vocational satisfaction. Many factors have combined to challenge this illusion, and career facilitation is poised on the verge of a radical paradigm shift. A full discussion of these issues is beyond the scope of this article, so we will confine ourselves to two broad observations.

First, studies consistently expose the congruence myth, finding poor correlations between this so-called optimal fit and satisfaction at work. The reason? The historical approach ignores the need for Vocational Intelligence in order to draw desired experiences from our life-work circumstances. There are many intervening steps and skills required between just doing the job and life-satisfaction, to bridge the gap between external circumstances and desired phenomenological outcomes.

Secondly, in terms of our model, testing is preoccupied with the Present Self. It offers a partial snapshot of the Present Self, and describes (or rather, prescribes) a static identity that may fall anywhere on the primary-secondary continuum. Irrespective of this, it ignores the Past and Future feedback loops. For example, it is not uncommon for test results to indicate that the client is best suited to their current work, which fails to deal therapeutically with their dissatisfaction in that work, or their hopes for a different sense of self.

Returning to our case study, conventional career interventions based on aptitude and personality testing will overlook vital signals containing information about who Peter wants to become. He would have given negative feedback to any advice that he is better matched to jobs other than teaching. In contrast, our model encourages a focus on identifying faint, fleeting signals in the field of information available to us, however “irrational” those fragments (in his case, career aspirations) might be. As Peter’s experience illustrates, our secondary processes are a potentially rich source of new motivation and vitality. We encourage pursuing those signals and processes, and enjoying the challenge of learning whatever new skills are needed. This is in marked contrast to traditional approaches, which assume that life satisfaction is optimized when we apply the skills we already have, and hence try to match us to the work that most closely aligns with those skills.

In short, the traditional approach to lifework facilitation neglects the dynamic processes involved in our lives as we re-evaluate and evolve. Moreover, it promotes naivety and passivity by purporting to offer the “right” work-choice, neglecting the need for active engagement, ownership of processes and decisions, and cultivation of Vocational Intelligence. Finally, it serves us poorly by suggesting that simply being in the “right” job will provide the inner experiences we desire automatically and forever. The eternal ebb and flow of our process-oriented model is a far more realistic representation of our volatile world in which the only constant is change.

The Primary-Secondary Continuum

Through Evolutionary Intelligence, the Present Self is involved in continual re-evaluation of who we have been in the past, how we experience ourselves in the present, and who we want to be in the future. We assimilate a plethora of information and experiences, old and new, welcome and unwelcome. Some data supports our current self-concept, representing the primary feedback loop. Moreover, we can differentiate information according to our degree of attachment to it as part of our current identity, our primary process signified by, “yes, that’s me.” As a visual aid, rather than a necessarily logical choice, we can place processes that are more primary higher on the loop; the higher it is, the greater the strength of our attachment.

Other data challenge our current selfconcept, representing the secondary feedback loop. Once again, it is useful to differentiate information according to the degree to which we marginalize it. Processes that are more secondary are depicted lower on the loop; the lower it is, the greater the strength of our edge, and rejection as “not me.”

The self is constantly in transition. The ease with which this process unfolds depends on many factors, which could be generalized into two categories: 1) internal skills and resources and 2) external/systemic support or resistance with different experiences affirmed, or marginalized, to varying degrees by the world around us. The Present Self must somehow negotiate this complex landscape of information in order to evolve.

One dimension of this intelligence is having sufficient confidence to follow the Tao with a realistic, adaptive balance between perceptions of an internal and external locus of control. In other words, we need the confidence and skill to influence the things we can change, and to accept the things we can’t. One aspect more within our control is our attitude toward information. If we can relax our identity, allowing the “Ego Death” described by certain Eastern traditions, we then open up to greater awareness of secondary processes. We increase the capacity of the Present Self to embrace serendipitous, if less known, possibilities.

Our self-concept becomes more fluid and flexible, less rigid and prone to get stuck in the face of new circumstances. We learn to allow, and celebrate, the tensions involved in the lifelong process of change and personal growth. Secondary processes are transformed into primary ones, and new secondary material then emerges, in an ongoing cycle. We adjust, step by step, through transition into a renewed, and perhaps expanded, sense of self.

The Temporal Dimension

Two crucial sources of psychological information are the dimensions we call “past” and “future.” Our present sense of self is grounded in past experiences. In a constructivist and highly subjective process, we build narratives around our past “achievements” and “failures.” In part, the Present Self knows itself through reflection on the past: we assess what satisfied us, what we want to carry forward, and what we want to change. We build a life story and a current sense of identity.

Against this we place our future, who we want to become, who others want us to become. The construct “future” brings an array of feedback, including goals, plans, demands, expectations, emerging needs, excitement, challenges, opportunities, frustrations, sense of direction, career management in action, and various aspects of our dreaming processes. We project onto the future aspects of the sense of identity, and the experiences, we hope to achieve in our lives. Certain core self-concepts are maintained in the present, but there is also a splitting-off of other self-conceptions. New skills that need to be developed are projected onto a future identity, leaving us to navigate through the internal and external dialogues that ensue. The future becomes a source of conflict and support, as well as many other emotional by-products. Hence the future of our working self is accessible through the sense of self and skills projected onto the future.

Another paradox emerges here. Our goals and projections are an essential impetus toward challenging ourselves into change. However, one aspect of the dynamic intelligence we are describing is the capacity to find satisfaction in the journey, not just in the arrival at our destinations.

Mountain climbing provides a useful metaphor. Aiming to reach the summit is crucial, as Csikszentmihalyi’s research into flow/optimal experience tells us.3 We need goals. However, the goal becomes problematic if we project all our satisfaction and worth onto reaching the top, because peak experiences (the ultimate state of being) are elusive and ephemeral. We set up a projection trap, with our entire sense of self attached to a time, a set of circumstances, or even a personality, that extends continually into the future: “If I were like this, if I had that, then I’d feel different.”

Instead, we need to learn how to feel fully alive in the process of struggle and to value our stepping stone victories. Furthermore, by being less fixated about actually reaching our goals, we open up to a wider range of signals in the moment. It is said that, “The lucky person is simply someone who knows themself well enough to recognize an opportunity when it comes along and to and grab it!” We open up to synchronistic, serendipitous influences that enter from outside our habitual frames of reference. By non-rational, non-linear means, something unexpected gets over our attention threshold and gains meaning and value that our normal self-concept would not have perceived.

One aspect of psychological fluidity in the self is the capacity to keep this extended awareness, and change goals mid-climb: to step onto a new path when a juicier goal presents itself. One way to escape the trap of projecting our satisfaction on reaching the summit (i.e., future) is to collapse time. We can notice signals supporting our projected self-concept as already present, here and now. Just as “the symptom contains the cure,” who we are in this moment contains the homeopathic essence of who we want to become. Part of the art of therapy is to facilitate a change in perception, especially when it is difficult or impossible to change outer circumstances.

Thus, Peter was able to experience his secondary process, i.e., the identity he said at first was “not yet me,” in the here and now. This is highly therapeutic! By contrast, a conventional approach to career counseling attempts to help the client choose the so-called right job in which to find this experience, which leaves it postponed into the future, where it may or may not come about. Peter’s challenge was to follow the signals into a choice of career path that had, in one sense, already been made. Many career clients come knowing what they really want to do, but need an ally to support their secondary process, their path of heart, against the opposition of inner or outer critics who may demand a different choice because it is more “logical,” or for some other reason.

The human tendency to construct problems as polarities explains why decision-making in the conventional sense can be so difficult; we get tormented by moving from one option to the other, then back again, over and over. This takes considerable energy, and we end up stuck in a binary system. Neither choice stands out clearly enough as the right one, and we can’t bear the grief involved with losing the benefits of one when we go with the other.

Our model offers a different approach, the way of openness to the Tao. If our self-concept is too rigid, saying “I only want such-and-such,” then we are left questing for something very narrow, defined, exact, and perhaps non-existent. However, we miss many signals coming from the various feedback loops if we get fixated on a single primary process.

The alternative is psychological fluidity and flexibility. Through opening up to all signals, we can “decide” in a very different way. Let the Tao flow, and momentum builds for a particular choice leaving us with a “choice of one” (the “no choice,” wu-wei path). It may not be exactly that peak experience we hope for, but it becomes “good enough for now.” Of course we still hope to find the Grail. However, instead of demanding all or nothing, we allow one step to develop into the next, and gradually life unfolds.

There are many ways to get stuck in the temporal dimension. We might live in the past, overly-attached to our illusions about “the good old days,” or cycling endlessly in past triumphs or traumas. We might live in the future, possessed by the Icarus/ puer archetype of fantastical, remote, safely-unachievable ideals and possibilities. Or we might become rigidly attached to our Present Self-concept, despite radical new information, perhaps becoming one of those sacked employees who continues to dress each day, and commute, as if nothing had happened, telling no one the real story.

Career also becomes the dialectical tension between how we experience our Present Self in this moment, and who we want to be in the future. In fact, the core of our motivation for change is the degree of self-acceptance we enjoy in the moment. If I am more satisfied with who I am right now, there is a consolidation of self-concepts and less is projected onto the future. If I am less happy with what is happening in the present, my focus shifts to the future.

When this occurs intensely and regularly, we are in a projection trap. We may feel impelled to get out there more and strive toward clear goals, which may lead to a crisis when we cannot achieve even a sense of the “right” direction to take, or even the “right” next stage. In the framework of our model, this crisis is yet another way in which we tend to get overly attached to a primary process and lose access to much of the information coming to us.

Traditional approaches to career counseling neglect the power and insistence of secondary processes, especially when the counseling is entirely oriented toward conscious goals, practical strategies, information giving, and rational action plans. Our model introduces wider perspectives on the self, and accordingly opens up new solutions to the problems of life.

Dynamic vs. Static Approaches

What is a career? Many different usages— and preconceptions—have developed over time, with colloquial meanings moving far away from the word’s origins. Today, we tend to think of “career” as a series of promotions up the mainstream workplace hierarchy, so that career progression and success mean increasing your income and status. In this sense, we are rigidly in an individual and collective primary process, and career is a largely pre-determined idea about how the future should be.

Yet, going back to the word’s roots in Latin and French, we discover that “career” refers to a racecourse or carriage way. It also refers to the race itself, and so we speak of careering off course or out of control. In English, it was not until the 19th century that the word became connected to our work and occupation. Therefore, one way to view career is as the course our lives take, the pathway we follow as events, and transitions, play themselves out.

Once again, in terms of our model, we can make a vital distinction between dynamic and static conceptions of career. We may have a static view of what path it should take. For example, families sometimes impose huge expectations on their children: “You will be a famous doctor, just like your father.” Or adolescents may go into Erikson’s identity foreclosure4 by fixating on becoming just like their favorite TV role-model (typically these days, someone famous in the world of film, music, or sport). However, this rigidity in Present and Future self-concepts involves closing off to many signals. Peter found it liberating to open up to information in the world channel, which brought these self-concepts closer together.

We can see career as the dynamic process of continual evolution, and career counseling as intended primarily to increase psychological fluidity skills. Taking this perspective, we are both active in planning the future and open to unexpected twists of Fate. We set goals, but remain attentive to diverse feedback. Career becomes the experiences of the Present Self across time, instead of a preconceived end state. We see our career as much by looking backwards and sideways as by looking forwards.


The objective of career interventions in this model is to enhance Vocational Intelligence and Identity, increasing our capacity to develop a unique career path through continual inner and outer change. Likewise, the goal of life facilitation in general can be defined as the enhancement of Evolutionary Intelligence and our sense of self. Hopefully, our proposed model can lead to new ways of making this process fruitful—and fun!


  1. James Hillman and Laura Pozzo, Inter Views. New York: Harper and Row, 1983.
  2. Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1959.
  3. Mihaly Csikszentmihalzi, Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: HarperPerennial, 1991.
  4. Erik H. Erikson, Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: Norton, 1968.

Alan Richardson is an educator and psychologist from Brisbane, Australia. He is a Diplomate and graduated from the Australian Process Oriented Psychology Programme.

Peter Hands is a psychologist, educator and lawyer from Melbourne, Australia. He has a Certificate in Process Work, and is currently doing a Ph.D. on Vocational Intelligence.

The authors welcome feedback and dialogue. Contact via e-mail: &