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Career Theory and Practice

Career Theory and Practice
Learning Through Case Studies

Fourth Edition

August 2019 | 312 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Career Theory and Practice: Learning Through Case Studies illustrates the process, theories, and application of career development counseling through a series of rich case studies integrated throughout the text. Authors Jane L. Swanson and Nadya A. Fouad use this case study approach to highlight the similarities and differences between the featured theories, as well as to illustrate proper technique and application. The fully revised Fourth Edition reflects a major reorganization of foundational material to highlight the importance of ethical practice, updates to all theory chapters, and the addition of two new chapters discussing recent theories.

List of Tables and Figures
List of Additional Cases
Chapter 1 • Career Counseling: An Overview
Purpose of the Book

Work and Career Counseling

Changing World of Work

Definition and Types of Theories

Clarifying Distinctions Between Theories and Theoretical Orientations

Developing Hypotheses and a “Working Model” of the Client

Organization of the Book


Chapter 2 • Ethics for Career Professionals
NCDA (2015) Code of Ethics

Ethical Decision Making

Ethical Vignettes

Chapter 3 • Career Interventions in Different Settings
Career Interventions in Schools

Career Interventions in Higher Education

Career Interventions in Community Settings

Professional Challenges

Chapter 4 • Cultural Contexts and Career Counseling
Culturally Responsive Career Counseling

Fouad and Kantamneni’s Three-Dimensional Model

Practical Implications

Multicultural Career Counseling Tenets

Additional Cases

Chapter 5 • The Case of Leslie
Presenting Issue

Career and Work History

Family Information

Marital Information

Leslie’s Expectations for Career Counseling

Initial Impressions of Leslie

Conceptualizing Leslie from Various Theoretical Approaches

Chapter 6 • Testing and Assessment
The Use of Assessment in Career Counseling

Selection of Assessment

Types of Assessment

Assessment of Other Constructs

Other Types of Assessment

Interpreting Career Assessment

Leslie’s Assessment Information

Working With Leslie’s Case and Assessment Information

Chapter 7 • Holland’s Theory of Vocational Personalities and Work Environments
Introductory Review

Applying Holland’s Theory

Directions and Implications for Career Counseling

Additional Cases

Chapter 8 • The Theory of Work Adjustment
Introductory Review

Applying the Theory of Work Adjustment

Directions and Implications for Career Counseling

Additional Cases

Chapter 9 • Super’s Developmental Theory
Introductory Review

Applying Developmental Theory

Directions and Implications for Career Counseling

Additional Cases

Chapter 10 • Gottfredson’s Theory of Circumscription and Compromise
Introductory Review

Applying Gottfredson’s Theory

Directions and Implications for Career Counseling

Additional Cases

Chapter 11 • Social Cognitive Career Theory
Introductory Review

Applying Social Cognitive Career Theory

Directions and Implications for Career Counseling

Additional Cases

Chapter 12 • Career Construction Theory and Life Designing Paradigm
Introductory Review

Directions and Implications for Career Counseling

Additional Cases

Chapter 13 • Psychology of Working Theory
Changing Assumptions About Work/Career

Introductory Review

Applying Psychology of Working Theory

Directions and Implications for Career Counseling

Additional Cases

Chapter 14 • Information About the World of Work
Classification Systems

Sources of Occupational Information

How to Use Occupational Information in Counseling

Additional Cases

Chapter 15 • The Intersection of Career and Noncareer Issues
Career and Noncareer Issues

Implications for Career Counseling

Applying Career–Noncareer Frameworks

Directions and Implications for Career Counseling

Additional Cases

Chapter 16 • Summary and Integration
Summary and Comparison of the Theories

Integrating Theoretical Perspectives

The Case of George


The Case of Tom

The Case of Sharon

Evaluation of the Major Theories

Revisiting Counselor Cognitions

Parting Words

About the Authors


Instructor Resource Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following: 

  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course.
  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Class activities offer lively and stimulating ideas for practical application of the concepts. Activities include case information to complete “tasks” and can apply to individual or group projects, in and out of class.

“The use of a client throughout the textbook sets Career Theory and Practice apart from other books. It fosters in-depth exploration into the application of theories and concepts of career counseling. It also hits on critical student learning, including understanding the current trends in work and its intersection with multiple populations. It educates students how to approach clients in a culturally responsive manner to maximize client outcomes.”

Carol Balk
Chatham University

The use of the case examples throughout Career Theory and Practice helps to bring the content to life. The order of the chapters is much better than other texts and the material is much more succinct than other texts. The summaries at the end of each chapter also provide a study guide for students.”

David Ford Jr.
James Madison University

Career Theory and Practice provides a good framework to make the theoretical context practical. I like how this text makes career counseling ‘real’ for the readers.”

Elbert Mackenzie Shell
Clark Atlanta University

Career Theory and Practice by Jane L. Swanson and Nadya A. Fouad has great practical, real-world application through the use of case-studies…Excellent resource.”

Kathleen Woods
Chadron State College

Career Theory and Practice is straightforward, readable, and quite handy. Highly recommended for work with adults that are entering the world of work for the first time, or for adults that are going through transitions.”

Bradley Janey
Marywood University

It was very approachable for students and easy to understand. I loved the integration of multiple case studies and the long-term case study across the book.

Dr Lindsey Warwick
Psychology, Southern Oregon University
October 27, 2023
Key features


  • Two new chapters on career construction theory and the psychology of working expose students to timely theories.
  • New case studies allow students to apply theories to diverse clients in a variety of settings and discuss client issues.
  • A thorough discussion of ethics emphasizes the importance of ethical guidelines, encouraging students to incorporate ethical decision-making into their practice.
  • Increased coverage of school counseling expands a discussion of career interventions in K-12 schools, higher education settings, and community practices, providing critical information for students involved in school counseling programs.
  • Updated references, literature, research, and statistics reflect the latest findings in the field.   


  • Comprehensive coverage of important theories of career choice and development is supported through one primary case study that is discussed throughout the book. This primary case is accompanied by additional supportive cases in each chapter.
  • A blend of theory, practical examples, and specific cases helps readers apply a wide range of career development theories to counseling clients.
  • The authors draw on their extensive experiences as practitioners, researchers, and teachers to provide a realistic overview of the field of career counseling and development.
  • Approaches to integrating work and mental health are proposed.
  • Counselor Cognitions guide readers in forming hypotheses about clients.
  • Personal Reflections features help readers in their own career development.
  • Societal issues that influence career and work decisions, such as the role of the economy and the changing nature of the workforce, are discussed.

Sage College Publishing

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