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Vocational Identity

Vocational Identity is an individual’s sense of themself as a worker. Vocational identity develops since childhood and includes the sum of an individual's needs, interests, talents, skills, and values. For an individual with mental health conditions, they may: 

  • Find it difficult to commit to working and having a career  

  • Be unclear about their work interests and goals 

  • Express ambivalence about having a career 

  • Have difficulty identifying vocational skills and talents 

  • Identifying work as a personally worthwhile pursuit 

  • Express difficulty viewing work or careers as a source of fulfillment 

  • Become easily overwhelmed thinking about work or working 

Based on Holland’s vocational personal approach (1997) and Career Construction Theory (Savickas, 2002), Vocational Identity develops for individuals with mental health conditions as a) their identity as a worker becomes differentiated from their experiences as individuals living with mental illness, b) their work-related interests, goals, and skills become clearer, c) their feelings related to work are less overwhelming, and d) they more willing to take risks for their career future.

 

Vocational Identity is affected by interactions with environments where individuals with mental health conditions experience differential access to work opportunities and careers.  

In CPF, these areas of Vocational Identity are labeled Identity Differentiation, Vocational Self-Concept, Work-Related Affect, and Identity Commitment.

 

In CPF, individuals living with mental health conditions have the opportunity to move towards creating a meaningful vocational identity. 

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

Resources for Improving Vocational Identity

Career Detachment (11-20)

People who scored similarly do not see themselves as workers.  

  • They do not know their career interests.  

  • Their view of themselves as someone with a mental health condition gets in the way of how they see themselves in terms of work.  

  • Other people’s prejudice about their mental health situation very much affects how they view themselves as workers, and they can judge themselves quite harshly.  

Career Consideration (21-28)

People who scored similarly do not yet know who they are as workers.  

  • They are still identifying their values, interests, aptitudes, and skills.  

  • Their view of themselves as someone with a mental health condition oftentimes gets in the way of how they see themselves in terms of work.  

  • Other people’s prejudice about their mental health situation sometimes affects how they view themselves as workers, and they can judge themselves quite harshly.  

  • There are many days when thinking about work and managing their mental health situation feels overwhelming.  

  • They see work as a worthwhile pursuit, but they are not yet prepared to make sacrifices needed to progress in their work lives.

Career Exploration (29-38)

People who scored similarly are getting to know themselves as workers.  

  • They have a good sense of their values, interests, aptitudes, and skills.  

  • Their view of themselves as someone with a mental health condition sometimes gets in the way of how they see themselves in terms of their career and their work.  

  • Other people’s prejudice about their mental health situation no longer affects how they view themselves as workers, but they can still judge themselves harshly.  

  • They feel good about their choice of career path and are willing to make sacrifices needed to move forward

Career Choice & Preparation (39-45)

People who scored similarly mostly know who they are as workers.  

  • They have a strong sense of their career goals, interests, and skills.  

  • Their mental health occasionally gets in the way of how they see themselves in terms of school or work. 

  • They are certain about their choice of career path. 

  • Their career commitment rarely waivers in the face of challenges. 

Career Establishment & Maintenance (46-55)

People who scored similarly know who they are as workers.  

  • They have a clear idea of their career values, interests, aptitudes, and skills.  

  • Their mental health does not get in the way of how they see themselves in terms of their career. 

  • They may see themselves at the “height” of their career.  

  • They derive fulfillment and well-being from multiple aspects of their work, such as improved financial security and positive relationships with coworkers. 

  • They are firmly committed to their career path.