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Multicultural Career Counseling Case Study

Read the following case study.  Write a 1050- 1750 word (or 3-5 page) paper responding to the questions that follow the case study.  Use headers to differentiate the questions to which you are responding.  Use APA formatting for this paper.  Use references when necessary.

Case study was taken from Dugger (2016)

Juan is a 34-year-old, Mexican American male living in Fort Worth, Texas. His parents were born and raised in Mexico, and met and married while living in Nuevo Laredo. Shortly after learning they were pregnant with Juan, they decided to emigrate from Mexico to the United States in the hope of providing a better life for their children. Having no sponsor in the United States and unlikely to get visas, they chose to cross the Rio Grande and enter the United States illegally, without documentation. Once safely across, Juan’s parents were understandably terrified of being discovered and deported. They made their way to Fort Worth, Texas (far away from the Mexican border) and were able to find work there. Without a green card or work visa, Juan’s parents were quite limited with regard to employment options and could take jobs only in which they were paid under the table. Although their family income was in the lower SES brackets, their standard of living in Fort Worth, Texas, far exceeded what they would have experienced had they remained in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. These unskilled laborers were thankful to be in the United States and took solace in the knowledge that their children would be U.S. citizens.

As their family expanded, Juan’s parents struggled to put food on the table, and their financial stressors increased as each of their seven children was born. As the oldest child in the family, Juan was well aware of the family’s financial difficulties. Consistent with the Latino values of familismo and filial piety (Flores et al., 2010), Juan therefore decided to leave school at age 16 to find a job and contribute to the family income. He had worked, until his back injury, in the construction industry ever since.

With regard to other dimensions of his cultural identity, Juan would be categorized as heterosexual and, assuming dual incomes in his household, lower middle class. Although raised Catholic, Juan is best described as nonobservant. At his wife’s insistence, Juan generally accompanies his family to midnight mass on Christmas Eve, but other than that, he can’t remember the last time he attended mass, went to confession, said the rosary, or even prayed. Although Juan now has two herniated discs, he does not consider himself disabled. Most salient to his cultural identity are Juan’s ethnicity as a Mexican American, his parents’ undocumented status, and his family of origin’s low SES. Each had a clear impact on Juan’s career development and decision making.

For example, Juan’s exposure to role models in the world of work was decidedly quite limited. His parents were unskilled laborers who worked seven days a week. They had little time nor money to expose Juan to the wider world around them. There were no trips to libraries or museums, no tickets for sporting events, no vacations to exciting places, and no money for extracurricular activities associated with school. Their entire social circle was comprised of other unskilled workers, and only Spanish was spoken at home. Although they hoped for Juan to do well in and behave at school, his parents could not help him with his homework because they spoke very little English and could not read it. Still worried about being discovered as undocumented, they largely avoided contact with the school and their children’s teachers. Because their focus was necessarily on meeting daily subsistence needs and paying bills, Juan’s parents couldn’t even imagine sending their children to college. Even if Juan were interested in finishing high school and going to college, he would undoubtedly face barriers and complexities specific to being the child of undocumented immigrants (Baum & Flores, 2011).

Given that “educational attainment constitutes the bedrock of career development and choice” by opening up career options (Arbona, 1996, p. 48), Juan faced quite limited career options because he did not complete high school. Juan’s reality was such that it wasn’t practical for him to dream of careers. Instead, Juan needed to focus on practical, achievable jobs with which he could earn income with which to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. This, of course, is quite consistent with Blustein’s writings about the psychology of work (Blustein et al., 2011).

Since making his initial choice to leave school and take a position in the construction industry, Juan has continued to experience the impact of cultural factors on his career success. Specifically, Juan’s subsequent career success has been constrained by his limited proficiency in English and his lack of a high school education. Although Juan is a U.S. citizen, he may very well encounter discrimination when applying for jobs. Such discrimination is illegal, but potential employers may be less willing to interview and/or hire Juan. Their bias may be in response to his ethnicity (which is clearly evident even in Juan’s name) or reflective of more recent anti-immigration sentiment in the United States and especially in border states such as Texas. Because he is unable to continue working in his previous position, cultural dimensions may also affect his psychological adjustment. “If he ascribes to traditional Latino gender roles, Juan may perceive his role of providing for his family financially as a direct reflection of his male identity” (Flores et al., 2010, p. 414).


  • What are important cultural implications to take into consideration when working with Juan as his career counselor?
  • Use a career theory to discuss Juan’s case.  Be sure to discuss any multicultural considerations.
  • What barriers might you need to help Juan overcome?  How could you advocate for your client?
  • What other information might you want to know/questions you might want to ask about Juan to help him?   

Dugger, S. M. (2016). Foundations of career counseling: A case-based approach (1st ed.).  Pearson.

Baum, S., & Flores, S. M. (2011). Higher education and ¬children in immigrant families. The Future of Children, 21(1), 171–193.

Blustein, D. L., Coutinho, M. T. N., Murphy, K. A., Backus, F., & Catraio, C. (2011). Self and social class in career theory and practice. In P. J. Hartung and L. M Subich (Eds.), Developing self in work and career: Concepts, cases, and contexts(pp. 213–229). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Flores, L. Y., Ramos, K., & Kanagui, M. (2010). Applying the ¬cultural formulation approach to career counseling with Latinas/os. Journal of Career Development, 37, 411–422.

Point Value: 8 Points
Weekly Learning Outcome Alignment: 1, 2, 3
Course Learning Outcome Alignment: 2, 5

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