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.

The FIRST Model

Tol Bedford 1982


Bedford’s FIRST framework is regarded by many who try it as very useful in diagnosing where a client is in their planning. Kidd states that “Central to this framework is an initial diagnosis of the stage reached by the client at the start of the interview” (Kidd, 1996, p. 194). So this is far from a theory about everything and anything, it’s a very useful, focused model which can be used to assess where your client is in their planning and exploring.


What does it look like in reality and how can we use this in practice?

In practice, it consists of 5 different steps, not necessarily to be taken in this order, at the start of the interview before the contracting stage. In fact, it’s to determine what the contract will look like. Have a look at the illustration below to get a good idea of what it is. I hope this will make it clear in one instant how you could use it as well as it summarises what to look for.

The First Model career theory by Tol Bedford.As you can tell, this is ‘a bullet point list’ of what to focus your open questioning about. For those who are just starting out in the profession, it may even be a good idea to pin up a discreet version of this on the wall behind the client or where you can have a discreet look at it until you are familiar with it in practice.

If you’re interested this idea, please click on the thumbnails below to download a free copy.

Bedford FIRST colour A4 sized poster Bedford FIRST black & white  A4 sized poster



I think this is a very useful model and offers a really good structure at the beginning of the counselling or interviewing process with a particular client. Obviously, this doesn’t offer any real support on how to follow it up and like many models and theories, it depends on the skills you have developed in how useful it can be with an actual client.

In my experience, this can also take the interview further with some clients who are right at the beginning of their journey. This will invariably be younger clients in secondary education for whom the whole process of the Bedford model can not only take up the start of the intervention, where you will quickly notice the client is at the start. you can then move on to making going through the Bedford model the main part of the interview, so they client has a good idea of where they are, and implicitly, will know where the gaps are. These are usually clients you need to see again at some point and where the entire first appointment is taken up with the pre-contracting stage for more in depth work in their second appointment.

Have a look at the following questions:

  • How would you respond to this? Would you agree? Or do you have a different perspective on Bedford’s FIRST model?
  • Apart from the obvious, what are the limitations of this model? Would it work in either of the two ways above with every client? (think about ability, age, maturity of the client, influences on the client’s thinking, etc…)
  • How would you use this model in your setting? Would it be easy to apply? Or does it take practice for you?
  • Since this is not ‘a full model of everything’ how would you follow it up? Which theories or models would complement it well.
  • This is in some respects reminiscent of DOTS – what are the differences in scope and application between the two?

Useful Links

References and further reading:

  • Kidd, J. M. (1996). The career counselling interview. In A. G. Watts, B. Law, J. Killeen, J. M. Kidd & R. Hawthorn, Rethinking Careers Education and Guidance: Theory, Policy and Practice. London: Routledge, pp 189-209.