Unit 4 – Planning Pathways

While the Resource- or Competence-based Pathways look back as a biographic method, the Planning Pathway method helps in planning the future.

This method is suitable for assisting clients in getting started and planning for future tasks, such as preparing for job interviews or job readiness. It can also help in improving daily routines and life habits.


Learners know how to

  • work efficiently with the intervention “Planning Pathways”; use the materials to guide the client.
  • take advantage of the versatility of the materials.


Learners are able to

  • independently assist clients in defining their theme, question, goal or aim.
  • encourage and help clients to work with the material to structure their plans within the context of time.


Learners have the competence to

  • independently prepare and structure this method and use the materials accordingly for this intervention in order to guide the clients professionally through this process.

Planning Pathways

Using the “Planning Pathway” can assist clients to improve routines from the past; determine their current position; or to look forward to establish future life goals and visions. It is best for the client to decide whether they want to work on short, medium, or long-term goals.

Many young people can find it difficult to plan definite future goals and work out the steps required to get there. It may also be difficult to work out the schedule and order that the steps should take and to stick to a plan. The Planning Pathway can help with this process as through using the cards and the symbols a structured pathway can be created to help the client visualise and comprehend future goals.

As well as providing a structured plan, the client can change, add or remove the position of the cards or the symbols at any point. This provides flexibility and allows the client room for manoeuvre with their plan.

The period of time covered by each Planning Pathway is a matter of choice for the client – it can be one hour (e.g. preparing for an interview or presentation), one or more days (e.g. structuring leisure time), one week, one month, a school year or even the full length of an apprenticeship.

Another advantage of the Planning Pathway is that it provides choice and consideration of alternatives. Two or more scenarios can be visualised.

The materials


For this method, you will need a set of symbols. We recommend a set of approximately 200 symbols to allow the client to choose more freely and find a good representing symbol for their interpretation. You can refer to the list of possible symbols you received in Unit 1.

Pathway Cards

The method includes time cards which feature different weekdays, months, or numbers and can be adapted towards the client’s timeframe for the future steps. It is up to the client to decide whether they want to work on short-term, mid-term, or long-term goals.

Process of counselling with the Planning Pathways

  1. Presentation
  2. Factual Questions
  3. Perception
  4. Interpretation
  5. Agreement and Action plan


The session starts with the practitioner presenting the materials and the steps of the intervention. Afterwards the client should identify a goal or an aspect they want to work on during this session. For example, “I want to figure out the next steps of becoming a professional chef”.

Once they identified the goal, the practitioner and client agree on the time frame of the plans for their future. This should be adapted towards the goal setting and decides whether the session uses the cards for week days, numbered cards, or monthly cards.

Step 1 – Presentation

Afterwards, the client should choose symbols to represent their next steps and place them on the cards of their planning pathway. The symbols represent steps and actions they want to take to achieve their goal.

When the client decides their arrangement is done, the client presents it and explains their chosen symbols and their meaning. The practitioner actively listens and observes the client during this phase.

Step 2 – Factual Questions

Once the presentation is completed, the practitioner and the support group, if there is one, can ask factual questions. These factual questions should not include any interpretations but are clarifying general questions.

For example:

“What did you say about this symbol?” or

“I did not hear this clearly, could you please repeat it?”

Statements like

“I think this was more important to you because your voice got louder when presenting it.” or

“Did you get more nervous towards the end because you touched more symbols?” are not included in this step.

Step 3 – Perception

Once all questions are covered, the practitioner shares their perception of the client’s work and presentation.

These observations can be about

  • body language, for example, movements of the face or gestures,
  • pitch of the voice
  • actions, for example, interacting with a symbol.

This step should only include pure observations, for example,

“You touched this symbol when you explained this” and should not include interpretations, for example,

“When you explained this, you touched this symbol, which might mean it is more important to you than the others.”

Step 4 – Interpretation

After the perceptions are shared, the practitioner moves onto the interpretation.

During this step, the practitioner and the supporting group, if there is one, share their interpretations on the client’s work and presentation, as if talking to themselves.

The client’s task is just listening, not interrupting or explaining anything during this step. They can voice their agreement or disagreement with the said interpretation in the next step.

The group, together with the practitioner, is allowed to discuss their interpretation together during this stage, as long as they are talking to each other and not the client.

Step 5 – Agreement and Action plan

Only afterwards, once the practitioner and supporting group is done, the client shares their agreement or disagreement, their surprise, or their realisation of something about themselves, with the others. They can also discuss points with the practitioner and supporting group if they are unsure about something or would like to discuss something further.

As a last step, the practitioner and client discuss the symbols and interpretation and should come to an agreement on the further actions to be done to achieve the goal which was set at the beginning of the session. This is done with the help of an action plan.

The action plan should set specific steps and actions and should be followed up on in the agreed upon time frame by the client and the practitioner.

Have you completed all the content of this unit? Please take a moment to review. Done? Please proceed to Unit 5.
For any open questions, please consult the Resource tab or contact your course leader.