I often work with clients who have tried the help of therapy for career change.

Here’s what happens: They experience a lot of personal growth, they develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress from work, they learn to set better boundaries, their outlook on life improves, and their self-esteem strengthens.

Here’s what doesn’t happen: They figure out the right career.

Why Therapy Didn’t Help Your Career Change

Therapists can help people in remarkable ways, but therapists are not trained in career strategy. It’s literally not their job or their skillset to help people pinpoint the right career.

We seem to have this collective belief that “knowing yourself,” “working on yourself,” or “getting clear on what you want from life” is enough to help us figure out what job we want. It’s not.

But when you go into it expecting that they can help you figure it out, and then it doesn’t happen, it can make you feel even MORE discouraged. “All this, with the help of a THERAPIST, and I still don’t know what I want to do?!” Cue narratives of being a lost cause or beyond help.

If therapy helped you as a person but didn’t give you the answers you need for your career, know that that’s normal.

Therapy provides a strong foundation for career change, so don’t feel like you’ve wasted time. The self-work you’ve done in therapy will pay off during your career change.

What To Do If Therapy Didn’t Help Your Career

The next step is to get help with the career strategy piece so you can build on all of the progress you made in therapy.

But buyer beware: a lot of career resources are actually personal development work marketed as strategy.

Knowing your values, Myers-Briggs type, CliftonStrengths, or having a list of transferable skills is not helpful unless there’s a strategy or framework that allows you to apply that knowledge towards making an actionable career choice.

Read more: Choosing a Career Coach? Avoid These 7 Red Flags»

If you’ve tried therapy or done a lot of personal development work and are frustrated because you know a lot about yourself but still can’t seem to choose a career, you’re invited to come see how we bridge the gap between self-knowledge and making a wise choice in my free training.

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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