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Career Self-Efficacy

Self-Efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to accomplish goals and perform tasks. For an individual with mental health challenges, they may: 

  • Find it challenging to identify their work-related accomplishments 

  • Have an absence of opportunities to observe and see people like themself succeed in the workplace 

  • Receive different forms of ableist messaging that tells them that they are incapable of career success 

  • Been told by others that they cannot handle the stress of working 

  • Avoid work due to fears of failure, disapproval from loved ones, and losing benefits 

  • Feel too overwhelmed by their symptoms to believe in their capacity to have a successful career 

 
Based on Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, 2013*), Career Self-Efficacy can improve through

1. Performance Accomplishments: Identifying past work accomplishments and experiences

2. Vicarious Learning: Having successful role models

3. Social Persuasion: Supportive social messaging that increases vocational confidence

4. Symptom Management Self-Efficacy: Effective management of psychological symptoms.

You can assess your Career Self Efficacy by taking the Career Advancement Inventory. Descriptions of each stage and related resources are provided below

How to Improve Your Career Self-Efficacy

Career Detachment Stage (22-38)

At the Career Detachment stage, people have yet to develop confidence in their ability to move in a vocational direction of their choosing.  

  • They have difficulty identifying work or school experiences from which they can draw a sense of accomplishment, or may have negative associations with past work experiences. 

  • They may not feel confident in their ability to overcome obstacles to getting a job, such as gaps in their work history. 

  • They may not feel capable of keeping a job, fearing that symptoms may get in the way or that they will lose income and healthcare benefits associated with programs such as social security disability insurance.

  • They frequently receive messages from providers and loved ones that they are not ready to work and that work is too stressful

  • They may not feel confident that any current work situation that they are in will continue

Career Consideration Stage (39-56)

At this stage, people have an emergent belief in their ability to move in a vocational direction of their choosing.  

  • They may have one or two recent work or school experiences from which they can draw a sense of accomplishment, but they largely have negative associations with past work experiences.  

  • They may feel somewhat capable of overcoming obstacles to working. 

  • They may not feel capable of keeping a job, fearing that symptoms may get in the way or that the stress of working may become overwhelming.  

  • They may have difficulty believing that people like them can eventually sustain a meaningful work life.

Career Exploration (57-75)

At this stage, people are developing their belief in their ability to move in a vocational direction of their choosing

  • They feel confident in their ability to advance their work lives in the direction of a career

  • They have faith in their ability to bounce back when they experience challenges

  • They believe that if their mental health significantly disrupts their progress, they can get back on track and will accomplish their work goals, even if it takes longer than their peers

Career Choice & Preparation (76-93)

At level 4, people are developing a strong belief in their ability to advance their career lives in a direction of their choosing

  • They report feeling confident in their ability to advance their careers in a direction of their choosing

  • They report feeling equipped to manage the stresses of working

  • At the same time, they are not always confident they will have the energy it takes to manage their mental health situation, work or study, and search for future work opportunities

Career Establishment & Maintenance (94-110)

At level 5, people have developed a strong belief in their ability to advance their career lives in a direction of their choosing

  • They report feeling confident in their ability to advance their careers in their chosen direction

  • They report feeling confident their mental health will not get in the way of managing work-related pressures and will not stop their career progress

  • They report feeling well-equipped in areas that can be particularly challenging, such as securing opportunities for growth through social networks