Experiential Activities for Teaching Career Counseling Classes and for Facilitating Career Groups

Book Review by Erin Harvey Bennett

Eds. Note - this book review originally appeared in the web magazine in Oct 2012. Because of its significance to today's readers, we are re-running the book review.


Book reference: Lara, T. M., Pope, M., & Minor, C. A. (Eds.) (2011). Experiential activities for teaching career counseling classes and for facilitating career groups, Volume III. Broken Arrow, OK; National Career Development Association. (349 pages)


Experiential Activities Vol IIIExperiential Activities for Teaching Career Counseling Classes and for Facilitating Career Groups is the third volume published by NCDA providing career counselors, practitioners, and teachers with activities to help persons in groups and classrooms with their career development. Every activity attempts to engage the participants while sparking discussion and reflection on how they can use the activity to move forward in their personal career growth. The book develops National Career Development Association Career Counselor Competencies by introducing activities for group interventions based on theory. Many activities utilize technology and provide options to use with diverse populations. Theory and application is grounded in research which is cited within each entry.


Layout and Source Details


The book provides 74 different experiential activities for career services providers working with persons ranging from Pre-K to college students, graduate counseling students, and adults in career transitions. The book contains a variety of activities appealing to practitioners who prefer both creative and systematic approaches. Each activity explains the purpose, learning objectives, and includes the theory base. It also provides the information fundamental to conducting the activity such as the needed space, group size, materials, and time. Rich discussion questions assist the reader with in debriefing the activity. Many activities provide references and suggested background material for the reader to gain the most from teaching towards the learning objective and implementation.


The book’s chapters are broken down into nine broad topics: Self-Knowledge and Career Decisions, Theory, Assessment, Occupational Information, Job Search, Career Program Design, Multicultural Career Counseling, Technology and Media, and Comprehensive Culminating Activities. This allows readers to make a quick search for the area relevant to their practice, and decide whether the activity is appropriate and will achieve the intended learning objectives for their participants. The book also provides a Topic Index with a more specific breakdown of the activity’s purpose, population, theory, or framework. The book was created by soliciting activities from a variety of career practitioners across the country and gives the biographies of all these authors. It also references the handouts that are provided in a PDF version on the supplemental CD.


Comments and Critique


Each activity can be utilized in a career development process; however, readers should be aware of their teaching preferences and the nature of the participants to determine if the activity is appropriate. There are varied populations and settings suitable for many of these career activities. However, some activities take a more creative approach while others process the information systematically. The practitioner should consider the clientele served, and critically evaluate through professional judgment if the style of the activity is appropriate for the leader’s teaching method and participant’s learning style. The time needed for the activity should be adjusted to take into consideration the practitioner’s teaching style. Some of the learning objectives and activities seem intense for the amount of time suggested. Nevertheless, the book provides a vast array of different activities and a practitioner would be hard-pressed not to find a few lessons that would be adaptable for their clientele, timeframes, and setting.


Some activities provide an extensive Purpose section including the basis for the activity. Some require the reader to have a basic knowledge of the theory and may mention the need for a lecture or explanation but not present information regarding that framework. However, all the activities deliver References and Suggested Background Material to provide resources for the practitioner to become educated about the theory while putting the activity into practice. Each entry presents a valuable Discussion section with a list of open-ended questions to deliberate. For many of the book’s activities, handouts and Internet links add to the potential success of the activity.


The book is designed in an organized format, with a number of appendixes that can be used to cross-reference while searching for an appropriate activity. The topic and target population are listed so the reader can easily synthesize which activities to use. The writing style for the Instructions for Conducting Activity sections vary in format, because the activities are compiled from contributions by different practitioners. Some activities are explained in a narrative manner, and some in a more structured format. Nevertheless, the instructions are communicated well enough for the reader to duplicate the activity.


The supplemental CD provides the book in PDF version, so the handouts are easily accessed. However, the Foreword makes mention of Power Points, which are not on the CD but are on the NCDA website listing for the book. Many of the activities provide addresses to specific web links. A digital version with direct links embedded into the document would also be helpful on the CD, so readers could avoid manually typing long URLs into a browser.


Valuable Addition to the Counselor's Bookshelf


Experiential Activities for Teaching Career Counseling Classes and for Facilitating Career Groups: Volume III would make a great addition to a career counselor’s bookshelf. The variety of activities presented can serve a wide array of audiences and include methods suitable for many different teaching and learning styles.


Readers will gain from the ideas presented in this book and can use it to learn and adapt new activities for their own creative and experiential interventions within their practice. The cost will be worth the benefit. I will use many of the activities in this book in my career groups and classes—it is an essential addition to my professional library.



Available in the NCDA Career Resource Store, Experiential Activities Vol III can be purchased as a book & CD combo or just a CD.



Erin HarveyErin Harvey Bennett is a Career Counselor at The University of Tennessee in the Career Planning unit providing assistance to primarily exploratory students through counseling, workshops, and teaching. She received her Masters and Education Specialist Degree in Counseling and Human Systems from Florida State University. She can be reached at eharvey9@utk.edu.






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Howard Harvey   on Tuesday 10/02/2012 at 12:46 PM

Hello Erin, i notice that we have the same last name i wounder if we are family,"smile". I am a Career Development Officer at The HEART NTA In Jamaica. Also i have received my Masters in Education and social Science from the MICO University College. I interested in the experimental tecahing book and CD for Career counselling. i would love develop a working partenship with you regarding this project,

Erin Harvey   on Wednesday 10/24/2012 at 08:42 AM

Hi Howard! Yes, maybe we are long lost cousins! :) What kind of project/partnership were you thinking? Shoot me an email and we can start collaborating!

naniek kd   on Wednesday 04/10/2013 at 11:41 AM

Hai Erin ...

It's very good when I read your intro book. I'm a school counselor very interested in career, so I purpose to get more learn from you and NCDA to process by Doctoral (PhD) study in counseling. I hope I could supposed finished soon.
thank you for your book into my inspiration,


Dr. Miles Matise   on Monday 02/10/2014 at 05:32 PM

Hi Erin,
Thanks for your helpful and thorough review of this career counseling source. I did purchase it to utilize and integrate in my Career Counseling course.
I was wondering if you could clarify about the power points, which you said are not on the CD but on the NCDA website listing for the book.
I've been searching around on the website but can't seem to figure it out.
Thanks so much for any clarification,
Miles Matise, PhD

Melanie Reinersman   on Monday 02/10/2014 at 08:24 PM

Thank you for Commenting about this great resource. Look in the Career Resource Store to get the PPT. It is linked in the listing for the book (after the description).

Erin Harvey   on Tuesday 02/11/2014 at 08:35 AM

Hello Dr. Matise,

I am glad you found the book and review helpful. I too am finding it to be a good resource in my classes. Thanks Melanie for your guidance to the question!

- Erin

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.