Advancing Life Design as a New Paradigm for Career Counseling and Development

Book Review by Sara Santilli

Nota, L. & Rossier, J. (Eds). (2014). Handbook of the life design paradigm: From practice

to theory, from theory to practice. Göttingen: Hogrefe. 438 pages.


New Paradigm

Life Design (LD) represents a new paradigm for career counseling and development in the 21st century. The LD paradigm augments 20th-century Person-Environment (P-E) fit and developmental models by focusing on making meaning through work. LD emerged from work by an international group of over 25 scholars and practitioners in more than ten countries to better account for the complexities of work and careers brought about by today’s economic conditions, globalization, and the digital revolution (Savickas et al., 2009). People today experience a new social arrangement of work that moves from permanent to temporary jobs, from linear to dynamic career trajectories, and from specific career knowledge to lifelong learning. Advancing the LD paradigm, the Handbook of the Life Design Paradigm (Nota & Rossier, 2014)offers a new and essential resource for those working to improve career services in line with today’s challenges and conditions.


LD emphasizes the need to support people to become experts in constructing their life-careers, to anticipate and deal with transitions, and to create hope for a meaningful future. Career adaptability is considered the contemporary worker’s essential skill to accomplish these goals. Career practitioners and researchers increasingly use the new LD paradigm and methods derived from it to help clients deal with job changes and better design their lives. In so doing, they consider contextual possibilities, dynamic processes, nonlinear life-career progressions, multiple perspectives, and personal patterns (Savickas et al. 2009). Now, under the careful editorship of Laura Nota and Jerome Rossier, a new volume entitled Handbook of the life design paradigm: From practice to theory, from theory to practice constitutes a major international effort to further advance the LD paradigm both conceptually and practically since it was first introduced in 2009.

 Handbook Of The Life Design Paradigm

The Book's Structure and Content

The book contains three sections:

  1. Life Design Paradigm;

  2. Life Design Across the Life Span; and

  3. Life Design Intervention and Activities Across Contexts.


Section 1 contains five chapters that describe the rationale for and major characteristics of the paradigm. These chapters also describe interventions to help individuals living in the constant change and mobility of “liquid modernity” to face their life and career designing issues and support them in their job and career searches. Topics addressed (with authors in parentheses) include:


Section 2 contains four chapters describing life designing from childhood through adulthood. Topics addressed include:


Section 3 contains seven chapters that deal with Life Design interventions across contexts. Topics include:


Aims of Book Well-Met

Collectively, the book’s three sections aim to further develop the LD paradigm, compare it with other contemporary approaches, promote reflexivity between practice and theory, and advance a conceptual framework and intervention tools for career counseling in contemporary times. These aims are well met, making the volume a must read for all career development professionals and students alike. It can be used by university students facing the profession and the professionals who want to be updated on the consultancy activities more in tune with the current times in order to answer questions from their clients.



Savickas, M. L., Nota, L., Rossier, J., Dauwalder, J.-P., Duarte, E., Guichard, J., … van Vianen, A. E. M. (2009). Life designing: A paradigm for career construction in the 21st century. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75, 239-250. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2009.04.004



Sara SantilliSara Santilli, Ph.D. student at Doctoral School of Psychological Sciences at Padua University, post graduate degree in Career Counseling at the University of Padova, collaborates with La.R.I.O.S. (Laboratory of Research and Intervention in Vocational Guidance), University of Padova, Italy, in the organization of vocational guidance projects and research concerning disability, career guidance and job placement. She can be reached at:  E-mail: santilli.sara@gmail.com


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