Story by Gisa Paredes, M.A. RPsy
I’ve known Malou for quite some time now, in fact, she was one of the very first friends I made in graduate school. Together, we managed to get through obstacles in every form and size, and through the process I was lucky enough to receive the gift of this lightworker. I could tell that Malou had experience and she was more than willing to help those of us who were still trying to “figure it all out”. Imagine, 5 years of practically “free” therapy. Today she gives us all The Career Road Map a workbook that was developed for anyone who might feel like they need help finding their way. The 140-page book is packed with wisdom that even people comfortable in their jobs might find interesting. I wanted Malou to talk about herself and her latest baby a little more, so I sat down with her to further discuss. Here’s where our conversation took us:
I’ve read through most of your book at this point and I have to say it is packed with so much information and worksheets that can help anyone sort out the rubble on their own. What inspired you to finally create this?
My start in the corporate world was challenging and at that time, I would have appreciated advise, tips or any kind of help to help illuminate the way forward. It took me a long time to finally find corporate career success. And now that I’ve learned so much, I felt that it was time to encapsulate all that I knew about how to get the career success you want, and put that information out there for anyone struggling to find their way, just like I was more than two decades ago.
How long have you been a career counselor for?
After my work as a Marketing leader in 2006, I shifted to being a head hunter as I wanted to help connect people to jobs. Eventually I felt the need to find work that not only connected people to jobs, and instead, help people discern what type of job they wanted, then go after that goal. I kept repeating this personal vision of what I wanted to do, until one day in 2010, I received a call to do exactly what I wanted to do – and that was career consulting.
So you were a career consultant first before becoming a psychologist?
Eventually, in the course of one on one career consulting, my clients raised other concerns in their personal life, which included mental health issues. As a career consultant, I felt that it was imperative that I get the proper training to help these clients properly. That’s why I took my MA in psychology.
Why focus on career counseling?
I believe that many people are capable of amazing things, and everyone by nature wants to be productive. But oftentimes, we end up in the wrong job, or doing work in an environment, which does not fit their values, personality or preferences, thus leading to demotivation and unproductivity.
I’ve learned the tools needed to help people discern what the right job is for them. And I wanted to be able to use those tools in making a positive difference in one of the major arenas of one’s life – one’s career. By helping people find the best fitting jobs as career counselor, I believe I’m adding meaning, purpose not only to those clients, but to myself as well.
Do you follow any schools of thought? And how might these be helpful in your profession?
There are three main theorists of psychology that have had the most influence in my career, motivations and in my work. First, I’m believer of Freudian childhood influences, the impact of these in our subconscious and how these innate drives seem to exist in the most basic needs we have. To be aware of these drivers is key, in gaining insight; so that one may break free of what he perceives as his limitations.
I also believe in Adlerian thought, that we are always seeking improvement and superiority and that is where our dissatisfaction with status quo lies. In addition, I believe that the seeking of superiority must lie in the drive for social justice and social interest for it to be truly satisfactory for an individual.
Lastly, I’m Rogerian, in that, I am person/client-centered, and believe I’m here to journey with the client, as a facilitator as he seeks congruence. I go at the client’s pace. I truly believe in my client’s capacity to do amazing things. So in my sessions, I exercise unconditional positive regard, strive to be fully present to help my clients as they strive towards personal growth. I believe sooner or later, we all seek this growth but sometimes just need some help in going after this. This is my job, as a career counselor.
What do you think causes people to end up in a “rut”? Why do we lose our way? And why do we get so confused about what we want to do with our lives?
In my experience, we often get confused about what’s really important to us and where we should be focusing our productive energies. Sometimes, we tend to be influenced by what other people consider as important, rather than figuring out for ourselves, what is really important to ourselves. Many people say – “Maybe I should go abroad. Because my parents/friends/relatives say I can earn more there.” But in reality, one needs to assess – are they fit for working abroad? Do they really want more financial rewards and adventure, instead of being with their family? Does the job waiting abroad really maximize their potential and will they end up doing the work they enjoy? I believe that we all have these innate capabilities and preferences – things we really are good at and enjoy doing. The key is finding that work, within an environment that fulfills our motivators and is consistent with our values.
How does The Career Road Map address this?
The Career Roadmap is both guide and workbook, so people can read through the chapters and then use the worksheets to discern their course forward.
What if someone isn’t necessarily concerned about career? Can they come and see you?
I also do counseling for mental health conditions, stress, coping with the other challenges in personal life. I also do personality assessments, when needed. I also run workshops and do talks on a variety of topics related to counseling, finding one’s purpose, career management and mental health.
Where can they find you? How can you be reached?
Clients may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquires.
What are sessions like with a career counselor?
The sessions for career counseling would probably be comparable to fees for other types of therapy, or even some doctors. Sessions start out with an interview where we discuss the client’s needs, or source of confusion or stress. We then discuss how we can go forward, if we need to do any kind of assessments. Assessments may be simple or more comprehensive depending on the needs of the client. For career counseling, we often do some exercises to gain insight, clarify direction and prepare for going after one’s goals. The counselor is a facilitator but the client is responsible for action, during and after the sessions. For example, if we are discussing how to prepare for an interview, I can teach the client how to speak, but what he will say, will come from him.
How many sessions do you think someone would need to “figure things out”?
This would really depend on the readiness of the client. Sometimes, as a client gains insight, then he quickly goes forward to act on his goals and plans, within two to three sessions. Sometimes, a client may hold back from action, due to worries about letting go of what he has now in favor of change. Then it may take a bit more coaching and planning. On the average, in three to four sessions, some degree of insight and direction is gained and initial action plans can be done, if there are no major issues or mental health issues in addition to the career needs.
What advice would you give to someone who is currently struggling to find their balance?
Try to imagine what you want for your future, 5 to 10 years from now. That should include all the dimensions of life, such as career, family/relationships, spiritual life and health. What does that future look like? Realistically assess, what is holding you back from that picture, and adjust accordingly. When we are imbalanced in just one aspect, whether it’s career or health or others, then the feeling is uncomfortable, restless, and even anxious. To achieve balance, one must find what his ideal mix of how much time and effort he gives to those arenas, aligned with his values. This starts with having a long term vision and then working on a plan to achieve that vision.
Where can they pick up a copy of The Career Road Map?
It will be in select National bookstore branches (Megamall, Shangri-la, MOA, Trinoma, Alabang Town Center, Market Market, Ayala Fairview, Greenbelt, and Glorietta) by October 15. In the meantime, they can e-mail me for direct delivery at email@example.com. I can courrier it to them at no cost.
The book will be selling for Php 350.00