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Change and Transition Curve
May 14, 2020

Originally presented at the Tenth International Personal Construct Congress, Berlin, 1999, and subsequently developed in his work on constructivist theory in relation to service provision organisations at Leicester University, England, John Fisher’s model of personal change – The Transition Curve – is an excellent analysis of how individuals deal with personal change.

This model is an extremely useful reference for individuals dealing with personal change and for managers and organizations helping staff to deal with personal change. 

Career Theory and Models Timeline

There are numerous career theories and models, and no single one is sufficient to describe the broad field of career development.

Career theories typically fall into one of three categories which, while not mutually exclusive, can be a useful form of classification:

Theory of process

Theories of process relate to interaction and change over time. This can be characterised by theories in which there are a series of stages through which people pass.

Theory of content

Theories of content relate to the characteristics of the individual and the context they live in. The influences on career development are thought to be either intrinsic to the individual or originate from the context in which the individual lives.

Theory of content and process

Theories of content and process have been formed in response to a need for theory to take into account both of these key areas. These theories encompass both the characteristics of individuals and their context, and the development and interaction between them.

This timeline shows how career theories have evolved over time.

Early 1900s

Theory: Person-environment fit, trait factor

Names: Parsons, Williamson, Holland

Vocational guidance is accomplished first by studying the individual, then by surveying occupations, and finally by matching the individual with the occupation.

Late 1950s

Theory: Developmental

Names: Ginzberg & Associates, Tiedman, Super, Gottfredson, Roe

Career development is a process that takes place over the life span. Career development activities should be designed to meet the needs of individuals at all stages of life.


Theory: Client-centred

Name: Rogers

Career development is focused on the nature of the relationship between the helper and client. It encompasses the core conditions of unconditional positive regards, genuineness, congruence and empathy.

Late 1970s

Theory: Social learning

Name: Krumboltz

The individual’s unique learning experiences over their lifespan develop primary influences that lead to career choice. 


Theory: Post-modern

Name: Kelly, Cochran, Jepsen

Truth is discovered subjectively through dialogue rather than through objective testing. This approach emphasises the individual’s experience and decision making through exploring personal constructs and the client’s narrative about their life.


Theory: Neuro-linguistic programming

Names: Richard Bandler, John Grinder

A way of coding thinking, language and behaviour based on the principle that changing the way one thinks can change behaviour.


Theory: Happenstance

Name: John Krumboltz

Chance events play a role in every career. The goal for clients is to generate beneficial chance events and have the ability to take advantage of them.


Theory: Narrative therapy

Names: Michael White and David Epston, Gregory Bateson
Clients are encouraged to separate themselves from their problems (ie, the problem becomes external). The client makes sense of their experiences by using stories.


Theory: Coaching

A model of practice. All parts of the client’s life are taken into account through regular sessions.