People With Disabilities Seeking Career Counselling

Getting the job you love with a disability can be challenging, career counselling may help you.

           The disabled population is a large and diverse community made up of individuals who experience impairments or difficulty in any domain or combination of environments (e.g., physical, cognitive, sensory) that impact their ability to function in a typical way in society. Due to the stigma and discrimination associated with ableism, in conjunction with limitations in abilities needed for specific jobs, disabled community members face numerous barriers related to employment. Ableism is defined as discrimination or exclusion, which leads to the oppression of people living with mental disorders, emotional disorders, physical disabilities, and/or chronic health conditions (Kattari, 2020). Disabled people face constant dehumanization by society as a whole; thus, when working with anyone with a disability, it is vital to treat them as human and acknowledge their capabilities to pursue meaningful and purposeful work. Many disabled people cannot find work despite actively seeking employment and sometimes feel they need to work alongside other disabled people, as society has a hard time integrating the disabled population. In schools, many the students in the disabled populous struggle to make connections with their peers and achieve academic success due to a lack of resources (Kattari, 2020). Thus, it could potentially lead to a disabled student feeling frustrated and leaving the programs they are enrolled in due to a lack of support (Kattari, 2020). This is likely similar to what disabled people experience in the working environment. Helping a disabled individual find the right job requires finding a setting that is equipped to accommodate the disability the individual faces. Career counseling with this community may also involve preparing clients to advocate for themselves and their needs in the face of potential workplace discrimination and other forms of ableism. The purpose of this paper is to explore and evaluate three career counseling services that are intended to meet the needs of disabled community members.

           I would recommend they look into aptitude testing, which can be done through Career Management services (Career Management Services, 2022). Through aptitude testing, the client will be able to flesh out the needs and wants they have and realize what type of job may be the most gratifying for them to do (Career Management Services, 2022). An online resource that can be accessed for those living in the Calgary area is Calgary Career Counselling; they offer career counseling and coaching, career and job-search advising, education advising, workshops and webinars, and corporate services. The online resource for the webinars would be ideal for someone who has disabilities as an online setting would be more inclusive to potential limitations such as being unable to leave one’s home (Admin, 2018). Another option would be Career Joy; on the website, they offer customized programs to support clients in finding the right fit for them. The program I would recommend to disabled clients would be the essential program. The program covers helping the client to use tools to create their resume, coaching sessions, self-assessment tools, to name a few (Davies, 2022). 

           As discussed by Amundson (2014), Parsons laid the groundwork for career counselors. First, career counselors should evaluate their clients, including the clients’ abilities, attitudes, interests, and limitations (Amundson et al., 2014). Secondly, it is important to help clients build awareness of what the conditions of success are, in other words, what are the “advantages, the disadvantages, compensation, opportunities, and prospects in different lines of work” (Amundson et al., 2014, p.33). Lastly, my job as a career counselor would be to bridge clients’ abilities, interests, and hopes with existing career opportunities, helping them to formulate an idea of what the client’s ideal job would look like. Low self-esteem and morale may be present in career counseling work with a disabled individual; due to the toxic views within society, internal ableism narratives can form and stunt their growth. It is pertinent to address this issue, encourage the clients’ strengths, and not focus on the things they are not capable of doing. This is where an aptitude test from the Career Management Services would come into play. Helping to address what the client is good at and help them formulate a course of action.

           Disabled individuals often find it challenging to integrate into society; they are expected to assume stereotypical roles in the occupations they choose, there is a smaller range of occupations available to the disabled community (Amundson et al., 2014). The rights of a disabled individual will be different from that of an able-bodied and/or able-minded individual, and having adequate accommodations put into place with their employer can help to ease the transition into the workforce. One example would be for disabled people who are allergic to all scented products; such products are common across office settings, food service settings, and more. Thus the only job opportunity for someone with this form of disability is a job that can be done from home or in spaces that have made explicit and thoughtful commitments to creating a scent-free workplace, which is rare. In this instance, Calgary Career Counselling would be a great fit to help the client to find job placement through their job search advising. Regardless of disability a career counselling client might be experiencing, it would be crucial to the counselling process to help the client seek a working environment with characteristics and accommodations that match the attributes and needs of the client. Finding such a match tends to promote job satisfaction, allowing the client to make a positive impact at work (Amundson et al., 2014)

           Through the Career Joy website, the client can do a Outcomes Questionnaire. The Outcomes Questionnaire has been widely used to measure overall psychological distress; the higher the score the more distressed and induvial is experiencing at the time (Rochlen, A. B., Milburn, L., & Hill, C. E. 2004). For disabled individual using the Career Anxiety Measure (CAM) can help the counsellor and client understand the amount of anxiety the client is experience with regard to entering the work force, which may be especially elevated for disabled clients because of anxiety-inducing barriers and opportunities to be exposed to ableism throughout the job selection and employment process. This understandable anxiety would to be addressed before entering the work force and this could be done through the Career Joy wesbite (Rochlen, A. B., Milburn, L., & Hill, C. E. 2004). My Vocational Situation can be used to help to assess the problems the client is facing, the barriers which are hindering them from achieving their goals, and learn more about the occupation they which to pursue. (Rochlen, A. B., Milburn, L., & Hill, C. E. 2004 p.266). 

           Online career counselling would like be particularly beneficial to those living with disabilities, site like Career Joy, Calgary Career Counselling, and Career Management Services could all help to aid the transition into the work force and fleshing out the career options for those in the disabled community. Being disabled can present challenges with mobility, sensory concerns, allergies common to office spaces, and other resource-related or financial barriers to meeting in-person. Referring the client to sites like Career Joy, Calgary Career Counselling, and Career Management Services, would help to promote the awareness of one’s self, help them to flesh out career options, and help in gauging their career knowledge (Pordelan, 2020). By using the career decision scale, designed by Osipow et al (1976) we career counselors can ask multiple questions in the online setting (Pordelan, 2020). 

           Career coaching can be offered as an intervention either online or in person. Clients can approach their motivations of desire to help them in the outcome of their career decision (Edner, 2021). A career coach considers the desires, motivations, and personality of the client, helps them to find out what they want to do and uses their personality to find them a career they desire (Edner, 2021). Working together with a career coach can help the client to fine tune their career goals and to decide what their objectives are for their career (Edner, 2021). This is where career construction can come into play. Career construction can help the client “revisited, reframed, and reinterpreted in the context of present career concerns” (Maree, 2019, p.48). Sometimes the past experiences even if bad can be used in a transformative nature to help inspire their future goals and aspirations (Maree, 2019). Making sure the client has strong self awareness of their identity can be a confidence boost for them to continue to push forward (Maree, 2019). This leads into self-construction theory, it pairs nicely with career construction as it helps in “narrating stories of key career-life experiences and linking those stories to feasible future career-life projects enables people to (re)construct their often extremely fluid career-life identities” (Maree, 2019, p.48). Thirdly this led us into career adaptability, creating a space where the client is about to make “transitions, and dealing with work-related traumas in uncertain and fluid occupational environments” (Maree, 2019, p.49). Disabled people may be particularly likely to experience work-related traumas because of ableism, and addressing this issue can help a disabled client find the confidence needed to transition into the work force, this type of support could be done through any of the following: Career Joy, Calgary Career Counselling, and Career Management Services

           As Denman states work is an importnat part of our lives not bieng able to work can led to isolation, decline in the will to live and a decline of personal well being (Denman, 2015, p.133-134). Thus, it is vital to help disabled induvial find job placements; as they battle the form of discrimination of ableism, it is also critical to address this issue before they enter the workforce to prevent further trauma. Disabled individuals have unique perspectives to add to their jobs and should not have to struggle with social stigma on top of it. In order to ensure that career counseling is competent and tailored to disabled experiences, specific service providers should be evaluated to ensure that they integrate relevant considerations for disabled clients across a range of disabilities, including cognitive/intellectual, physical, and more. For a disabled individuals living in the Calgary area, I would direct them to the three sites, Career Joy, Calgary Career Counselling, and Career Management Services, for each site to bring a different perspective and to aid in the transition of the client into the workforce.


Admin, C. C. C. (2018, December 12). Find a fulfilling career path. Calgary Career Counselling. Retrieved January 24, 2022, from

Amundson, N. E., Harris-Bowlsbey, J. A., & Niles, S. G. (2014). Essential elements of career counseling processes and techniques (3rd ed.). Pearson Education Inc.

Career Management Services. (2020, November 7). Career Counselling in Calgary: Aptitude testing: Online counselling. Work That Fits. Retrieved January 24, 2022, from

Davies, K. (n.d.). (2022). Take control over your job search & career, right now. Getting Started with Career Coaching – how can we support you? Retrieved January 24, 2022, from

Ebner, K. (2021). Promoting career optimism and career security during career coaching: development and test of a model. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research & Practice14(1), 20–38.

Kattari, S. K., Ingarfield, L., Hanna, M., McQueen, J., & Ross, K. (2020). Uncovering issues of ableism in social work education: a disability needs assessment. Social Work Education39(5), 599–616.

Maree, J. G. (2019). Group Career Construction Counseling: A mixed‐methods intervention study with high school students. Career Development Quarterly67(1), 47–61.

Pordelan, N., & Hosseinian, S. (2020). Design and development of the online career counselling: A tool for better career decision-making. Behaviour & Information Technology.

Rochlen, A. B., Milburn, L., & Hill, C. E. (2004). Examining the process and outcome of career counseling for different types of career counseling clients. Journal of Career Development, 30(4), 263-275. Retrieved from

Published by Ari Villain

Artist and writer. Living with chronic illness and writing about it. I have survived two cancers, I live with hyperadrenergic postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, ehlers-danlos syndrome, mast cell activation syndrome, jaundice, esophagus dysmotility, Chilblains, Raynaud's, migraines, asthma, and more. I have mental health problems which I am not ashamed of, I have CPTSD, anxiety, and depression. My medical history is extensive, but I will continue moving forward. I have hope to help others not feel isolated alone, and forgotten by an ableist society.

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