Conceptualizing Consultation

Conceptualization is foundational to developing effective interventions, as conceptual information provides consultants with an understanding of the culture of a given organization or system, as well as an understanding of the organization's existing strengths and areas for growth. Conceptual information is obtained through a variety of formal and/or informal assessments including written assessments, online surveys, individual interviews, and small group interviews.

Dougherty (2014) refers to the process of assessing and conceptualizing as the diagnosis and implementation stages, which are subdivided into:

  1. Diagnosis Stage (p. 85)
    1. Gathering information
    2. Defining the problem
    3. Setting goals
    4. Generating possible interventions
  2. Implementation Stage (p. 109)
    1. Choosing an intervention
    2. Formulating a plan
    3. Implementing the plan
    4. Evaluating the plan
Dougherty, 2014

Conceptualizing Stages Reflection Questions

  1. What do the above stages have in common with the counseling process?

Conceptualization Video

Watch this video on counseling client conceptualization.

Playback problems? This video is available on YouTube at

Client Conceptualization Video Reflection Questions

  1. What cultural factors might you consider when conceptualizing people within an organization?
  2. In what ways does counseling client conceptualization overlap with consultative conceptualization?
  3. What conceptual information do you need to be able to intervene as a consultant with an organization?

Conceptualizing Professions

There are an enormous range of professions from Acupuncturists to Zoologists, and organizational consultants may find themselves working with clients whose occupations are not familiar to the consultant. O*NET provides a wealth of background information from training requirements, work activities, salary, and projected growth. Spend some time browsing O*NET before responding to the following reflection questions.

O*NET Exploration Questions

  1. How might an organizational consultant use O*NET to inform their conceptualization?
  2. How might a consultant use O*NET to provide a consultee with industry growth estimates that might be used to inform hiring decisions:
  3. What other thoughts or reactions do you have regarding O*NET?