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Career Article Assignment - By Kristen Donnelly

Career Article Assignment
Kristen Donnelly
Mid America Nazarene University
Career Article Assignment
In the 2010 article entitled Domestic Violence and Financial Dependency posted on Forbes.com, author Nancy Salamone (a survivor of domestic violence and financial expert) explored the impact of financial and employment woes on victims of domestic violence (DV) and their ability to leave their abusers and/or survive after leaving. Salamone's (2010) article points to several financial barriers to leaving that exist for many victims which include: having dependent children, lack of access to bank accounts, lack of property ownership, and not having employment outside of the home. Salamone (2010) asserts that often when victims or survivors of DV experience these types of roadblocks many of them either end up impoverished, or are forced to go back to their abuser. The article goes on to describe a program founded by Salamone that seeks to help women trying to escape domestic violence by teaching them skills in personal money management, budgeting, and planning for their financial future. (Salamone, 2010, p.1)
While this article highlights the crucial need for victims of DV to achieve financial stability in order to remain free of their abusers, there seems to be something missing. What's missing? The answers to these two questions: 1) How can DV survivors obtain gainful employment that allows them to utilize the skills mentioned above? and 2) How can they work on emotional healing when they have to focus so much on financial survival? This is where the holistic approach of career counseling would play a pivotal role. Consider the notion of self-efficacy, described by Peterson and Gonzalez (2005) as a concept that "...centers on people's sense that they exercise some personal control over events affecting their lives" (p.212). The ability of a victim/survivor of DV (who may've had little control over their own lives) to internalize this concept would be a valuable tool in both their emotional "rebuilding" process and their search for adequate employment.
One career counseling approach that has this construct at its core is the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT). (as cited in Peterson and Gonzalez, 2005, p. 244) SCCT incorporates the client's past and present experiences, descriptive demographics, view of their own abilities, expectations of self and of perceived outcomes, and potential barriers to moving forward successfully, into one large contextual framework from which to begin working on career development. (Peterson and Gonzalez, 2005, p.245)
From this perspective the concept of career counseling for this population is much larger than simply helping an individual to find a job; it becomes a place from which to help them start rebuilding their self-concept and sense of self-worth. In an article by Morris, Shoffner, and Newsome (2009) promoting the relevance of SCCT with battered women leaving abusive relationships, the authors put forth that "...a woman leaving an abusive relationship faces significant psychological barriers to finding a career or job. Her work with a career counselor can be instrumental in changing her negative self-perceptions of abilities, available supports, and barriers" (p.45). It's clear that the career counseling process would likely cause a ripple effect of positive changes in the life of a victim or survivor of DV.
So how does a career-centered counselor begin guiding a victim or survivor of DV through the career counseling process? If using the SCCT approach, the counselor would begin by figuring out what setting is most appropriate and safe to meet with that particular client (i.e. the local library as opposed to a counseling office) in order to explore career possibilities (Morris et. al, 2009, p.48). Here, the client and clinician would work together to set small measurable goals involving either the client's immediate needs and/or career goals. The counselor would assist the client in identifying skills learned for survival (i.e. staying a step ahead of their abuser's moods) and reframe them to fit with career appropriate skills; particularly if the client has never worked outside of the home. (Morris et. al, 2009, p.48)
Morris et. al, (2009) purport that "By accomplishing smaller goals, the client can build her repertoire of personal performance accomplishments...contributing to her career-related self-efficacy and helping her work toward longer term goals" (p.48). As the number of victims of domestic violence continues to climb, it is incumbent upon advocates and clinicians not to ignore the various needs of this population; but to seek ways in which to create safe havens, aid in emotional healing, provide guidance and support, offer resources for employment, and promote self-efficacy. Self-efficacy equals empowerment, and empowerment triumphs over the scars left behind by domestic violence.
References
Peterson, N. & Gonzalez, R.C. (2005). The role of work in people's lives. (2nd ed.).
Belmont, California: Brooks/Cole.
Salamone, N. (2010). Domestic Violence And Financial Dependency. Forbes.com.
Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2010/09/02/women-money-domestic-violence-forbes-woman-net-worth-personal-finance.html
Wachter-Morris, C. A., Shoffner, M. F., & Newsome, D. W. (2009). Career counseling for
women preparing to leave abusive relationships: A social cognitive career theory approach. The Career Development Quarterly, 58, 44-53. Retrieved from EBSCOHOST.

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Shawnda Kahl is the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Behavioral Science at MidAmerica Nazarene University

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