Author: Erika Leibrand Administering psychometric assessments, assisting and working with clients and other professionals, dealing with test publishing and research, writing reports, attending workshops and training; amongst others all form part of our daily routine as professionals in the field of Psychology. The one position we do not so often take on however, is that of the ‘client’. I was fortunate enough to attend Prof. Kobus Maree’s Advanched Career Workshop on Career Construction (Counselling for Life Designing), on the 9th of November in Cape Town. Prof. Maree has a triple doctorate (DEd. Career Counselling; PhD. Didactics of Mathematics; DPhil. Psychology), and is internationally recognised for his work in narrative career counselling, amongst other subjects. In addition he still lectures at the University of Pretoria. Being an old Tukkie myself, I knew the workshop was going to be interesting to say the least. During the workshop, Prof. Maree mainly referred to and focused on the work of Prof. Mark L. Savickas (USA), a top expert in the field of Career Psychology and also a personal friend of his. Having seen Savickas’ DVD before, I was familiar with the narrative counselling approach used. To me it can best be described as a constructive facilitative session, in which a person is guided towards identifying his/her life themes. These themes reoccur throughout our lives, from our earliest childhood memories, to where we are today in our career roles and personal lives, to where we are heading. Thus, a valuable qualitative flavour is added to the mostly-quantitative, psychometric approach used in career coaching. When the time came for Prof. Maree to request a volunteer client, I raised my hand enthusiastically, like a true extrovert. Over and above my keen interest in the topic, this was my first real chance to be on the other side of the assessment table. To my surprise, the experience was much more insightful, eye-opening and intense than expected. By completing the Career Interest Profile (CIP v3, developed by Prof Maree himself), recalling three childhood stories and discussing these interactively, my life themes became crystal clear; a passion for children, ‘experiencing’ above ‘reading’, a motivation for further study, a willingness to sacrifice in order to become an Educational Psychologist, an aversion to all things “boring”. They all fell into place, made sense and linked so beautifully with my life themes. “You are the only expert of yourself”. We’ve all heard this before and it seems simple enough. Or so I thought. By taking the client’s place and being facilitated through career counselling by someone as skilled as Prof Maree, my “self-expertise” soared to new heights. I am truly inspired and reassured that I am on the correct career path. I can only hope to become as skilled in narrative therapy in my own Educational Psychology practice one day – it is part of my life theme after all... [photo by kagey_b]