It’s not my intention to give full information or an extensive discussion on every theory. This website is intended to be a starting point and the main difference with other websites is the visual representation of the theory, which I hope will help get to grips with the theory. There are also links it the bottom to get your further research started.

Cormier and Hackney Model

Harold L. Hackney & Sherry Cormier, 1993


Harold L. Hackney & Sherry Cormier have a strong background in counselling, which gives us an indication as to where their theory sits. Cormier and Hackney suggest that counselling “is designed to help client understand and clarify their view of their life space, and to learn to reach their self determined goal through meaningful, well-informed choices and through resolution of problems of an emotional or interpersonal nature.” They describe “counselling as a mouth healing process, because it involved intercommunication and interaction of a counsellor as well a client through self-orientation using mouth to human development principles like cognitive affective, behaviour, and personal emotionality intervention and self-concept.” (Cormier & Hackney, 2005, p1)


The Cormier and Hackney model consists of 5 steps the career counsellor works through with the client.

  1. relationship building
  2. assessment
  3. goal setting
  4. interventions
  5. termination and follow-up

This was later expanded to six stages of the counselling process:

  • Stage one: Relationship building
  • Stage two: Assessment and diagnosis
  • Stage three: Formulation of counselling goals
  • Stage four: Intervention and problem solving
  • Stage five: Termination and follow-up
  • Stage six: Research and evaluation


This, to me at least, does not completely unfamiliar from other models. At the same time, it looks common sense logical as well. Although there is a lot more to be said about the 5 step model, the key concept should be self-explanatory from the illustration below.

Cormier and Hackney Model of career guidance theory.

Even though the following isn’t part of the model on this page, the Cormier and Hackney Model is easy to combine with Schlossberg’s 4 S Model, which is part of her Transition Theory. The Cormier and Hackney model then forms a vehicle through which Schlossberg’s transition model can be delivered. Have a look at the illustration below, but I would strongly advise you to do a bit of research into Schlossberg’s transition model first so the illustration below is easier to understand.


The illustration below is built around the five steps in the Cormier and Hackney Model, but at the same time, it’s corelated with Schlossberg’s model (Anderson et al. 2012). The five steps are combined with Situation, Self, Support and Strategies, the four different factors Schlossberg recognises as influential in whether an individual is able to cope with change. Each step within the Cormier and Hackney model incorporates each of the 4 steps Schlossberg’s model, in the graphic below from the inside outwards. Combined Cormier Hackney and Schlossberg Transition model for career guidance theory.

How this works:

When a client enters support and the professional follows the Cormier and Hackney/Schlossberg model they would follow the Cormier and Hackney model as a broad structure, slotting in Schlossberg’s 4S model to ensure each of the 5 steps are maximised. Since the 4S model is a transition model, this would work obviously best with those clients going through transition. No need to say that this fits in exactly within the framework of career guidance/counselling as many of our clients are doing exactly that, going through a period of transition. Others will be planning for transition.

  • Stage 1: relationship building – the practitioner will use good listening skills to build a strong working relationship with the client.
  • Stage 2: assessment – both the practitioner and the client gain more understanding of the issues by assessing the client’s environment or situation (triggers, timing, source, control, role change and duration, previous similar experiences and stress levels), internal resources (e.g.: listening to stories – narrative) and external resources and the ability and skills for the client to cope (stressors, beliefs and supporters). As you notice, assessing can happen by drawing on other theories.
  • Stage 3: goal setting – based on where the client is and what the outcome is of the assessment, setting realistic goals the client takes ownership of is the following stage. Building upon the outcomes of the assessment stage in step 2 is key. Goals are mutually agreed upon and Schlossberg’s 4 S’s can be the structure you explore with the client to come to a conclusion which goals are the ones the client realistically wants to work towards.
  • Stage 4: intervention – as you can tell from some of the key words, like ‘reframing’ in this part of the model, drawing on other models and theories is key to make this stage effective too, and are again based along the 4 different categories Schlossberg recognised as important. Going into detail here is beyond what I hope to achieve with this website but I would recommend exploring these in Anderson et al.’s book, which I have referenced at the bottom, or to explore this further with colleagues or on this and other websites by entering the key words as search terms. Especially, explore Schlossberg’s theory further. Explore!
  • Stage 5: Termination and follow up. Just like step 1, this stage won’t vary much between the different types of and reasons for transition.

You can see from the very brief description above that this model doesn’t just have to consist of Cormier and Hackney’s model combined with Schlossberg’s transition model but that it is very client centred and pragmatic in the sense that it allows for a variety of techniques and theories to be implemented to support the client. Obviously, that is the same for a lot of models of transition, motivation, career guidance etc… Think of models and theories as a toolbox rather than a straightjacket.



Even though we finished with a combine model, don’t forget what we started with. Explore the following questions to make up your mind on the strengths and weaknesses of the Cormier and Hackney model. I have specifically added the section of combining this with the Schlossberg model of transition as it is a real part of the literature around both models but also because it shows you how it can be used, or not.

  • In that sense, think about the scope of the Cormier and Hackney model. What is it’s reach and what can you say about that for your clients?
  • How is its scope affected by the combination and what are the downsides?
  • How easy is this to use by itself, you think? How does that change when you combine it, and combine it even further?
  • What kind of client could you use this with and where and when would you need to look for another model?
  • If you consider career transitions, what do you think about the 5 stages Cormier and Hackney propose? Would they be helpful? Or is there something missing when used in a career context? (I’m not saying there is! But since this is a counselling model, it’s important to transpose this in a couple of typical career guidance situations to test their model).
  • Which resources (in the broadest sense!) do you need to apply this model by itself and combined?
  • Is the Cormier and Hackney model by itself enough? Or is that the reason why the proposed combination happened? What is the motivation?
  • Have a look at Brown’s criteria; how does this model fare?


Useful links and references:


  • The Professional Counselor: A Process Guide to Helping, Hackney & Cormier, 2005, Pearson
  • Counseling Adults in Transition: Linking Schlossberg’s Theory with Practice in a Diverse World, Fourth Edition, Anderson, M. L., Goodman, J., & Schlossberg, N. K., 2012, Springer Publishing Co.