The LGBT group has a long demonstrated history of being victim to a lack of theory and framework aimed at effective understanding and representation of the culture in the career development field. Career development theory has traditionally been geared towards heterosexual individuals and groups that are grounded in ideas and notions that discrimination does not exist with career opportunities. There have been several theories that have been explored in relation to how well they mesh with the LGBT group.
Chung (2003) has noted through research the efforts made to look at the theories of Holland and Super to address the issues that are faced by the LGBT group. Despite the efforts, Chung (2003) also notes the hesitation for counselors to use traditional theories and interventions with the LGBT group due to the potential reliability and validity issues associated with this specific group. Gedro (2009) discussed Holland’s theory in relation to the LGBT group. Through this research, gays were more likely to be represented in the Artistic and Social categories when compared to heterosexual males (Gedro, 2009). While Holland’s theory can provide direction for different career goals, gay men are often discrimination and stigmatized in those fields. This leaves a major gap in Holland’s theory as career counselors are also faced with the additional task of addressing the special and unique needs of gay men and further, the LGBT group. Datti (2009) found one theory that has been utilized with some success with the LGBT group is Krumboltz’s Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making (SLTCDM). Examining the four factors that include, genetic endowment, environmental conditions, instrumental and associative learning experiences, and task approach skills, allows for a clearer understanding for the LGBT group. Genetic endowment and environmental conditions provide an opportunity for the LGBT group to explore different directions within the career field while appropriately addressing the unique needs of this group. Datti (2009) illustrated through research that the SLTCDM allows for the LGBT population to explore all avenues of their career interests while building off a framework that can facilitate positive experience for this population.
Another interesting theory that has been supported through research according to Schmidt and Nilsson (2006) is the Bottleneck Theory by Hetherington. Schmidt and Nilsson (2006) explain that the Bottleneck Theory emphasizes the dual developmental conflict for the LGBT population when it comes to sexual identity and career development. Both tend to occur at the same developmental stage and as such, create too much conflict for the individual to process at one time creating a bottleneck effect. This theory is starting to receive more attention as research is confirming the existence a developmental conflict for the LGBT group. There is very limited research to investigate the specific needs of bisexuals and transgender individuals and groups (Chung, 2003). Even with research geared towards gays and lesbians, there is virtually no empirical data and specific research designed for bisexuals and transgender (Chung, 2003). This poses significant issues for career counselors who are faced with an already discriminated population that has no to very little theoretical foundation to help guide counselors.
Overall, there is a great need for more of a theoretical foundation for the LGBT population for career counselors. While current career development theories such as Holland, Super, and SLTCDM are used, there are still unique needs for the LGBT population that need to be implemented into the current use of theory and practical application. Hopefully, with future research, theories can be adjusted or created to identify and assist with specific groups.