Looking at Rehabilitation CounselingWhat does a rehabilitation counselor do?
Rehabilitation counselors help people deal with the personal, social, and vocational effects of disabilities. They counsel people with disabilities resulting from birth defects, illness or disease, accidents, or the stress of daily life. They evaluate the strengths and limitations of individuals, provide personal and vocational counseling, and arrange for medical care, vocational training, and job placement. Rehabilitation counselors interview both individuals with disabilities and their families, evaluate school and medical reports, and confer and plan with physicians, psychologists, occupational therapists, and employers to determine the capabilities and skills of the individual. Conferring with the client, they develop a rehabilitation program that helps the client enjoy the highest possible quality of life.
Rehabilitation Counselors differ from mental health counselors or psychologists on some very key points. The most notable being that rehabilitation counselors not only provide counseling, but also testing, vocational placement, advocacy and case management services. The core values of a rehabilitation counselor include the following:
1. Facilitation of independence, integration, and inclusion of people with disabilities in employment and the community
2. Belief in the dignity and worth of all people.
3. Commitment to a sense of equal justice based on a model of accommodation to provide and equalize the opportunities to participate in all rights and privileges available to all people; and a commitment to supporting persons with disabilities in advocacy activities to achieve this status and empower themselves.
4. Emphasis on the holistic nature of human function
5. Recognition of the importance of focusing on the assets of the person.
6. Commitment to models of service delivery that emphasize integrated, comprehensive services which are mutually planned by the consumer and the rehabilitation counselor.
According to the Commission for Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. (2003). Scope of Practice for Rehabilitation Counseling. Retrieved 6/30/2007 from http://www.crccertification.com/pages/31research.html), the following duties are part of the scope of practice of a Rehabilitation Counselor. Rehabilitation counseling is a systematic process which assists persons with physical, mental, developmental, cognitive, and emotional disabilities to achieve their personal, career, and independent living goals in the most integrated setting possible through the application of the counseling process. The counseling process involves communication, goal setting, and beneficial growth or change through self-advocacy, psychological, vocational, social, and behavioral interventions. The specific techniques and modalities utilized within this rehabilitation counseling process may include, but are not limited to assessment and appraisal; diagnosis and treatment planning; career (vocational) counseling; individual and group counseling treatment interventions focused on facilitating adjustments to the medical and psychosocial impact of disability; case management, referral, and service coordination; program evaluation and research; interventions to remove environmental, employment, and attitudinal barriers; consultation services among multiple parties and regulatory systems; job analysis, job development, and placement services, including assistance with employment and job accommodations; and the provision of consultation about and access to rehabilitation technology.
Where do Rehabilitation Counselors Work?
Many rehabilitation counselors work in human resources departments to aid organizations in developing reasonable accommodations, ensuring they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, conducting job analysis to determine the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities for each position at the agency and providing in-house counseling and/or case management to employees. Another group of rehabilitation counselors work in community health and vocational rehabilitation centers providing addictions and mental health counseling, case management and job placement services. Yet others work in private practice doing counseling, expert witness consultation, life care planning, personal training (with additional certification), teaching or research. Finally, rehabilitation counselors serve a vital role in hospitals where they provide post-injury counseling ande adovocacy to persons who are recovering from a traumatic brain injury, loss of a limb or other life-altering accident or illness. In short, if you love to help people, embrace a holistic philosophy and enjoy working as part of a multidisciplinary team, rehabilitation counseling provides you with a wide variety of possible job opportunities.
Dr. Snipes received her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling and her PhD in Counseling and Education from the University of Florida. She is an ordained Christian minister . Currently she runs two online continuing education sites Continuing Education for Engineers and online continuing education for rehabilitation counselors, addictions professionals and social workers.