rehabilitation counselor helping man

What does a Rehabilitation Counselor do?

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A rehabilitation counselor helps a person live and work independently that suffers from emotional, physical, developmental, or mental disabilities. They assist patients with employment challenges and help both the client and the employer overcome any obstacles that may arise. They help their clients manage or overcome the effects of the daily obstacles of their disabilities personally, socially, and psychologically.

Watch a video to learn what a rehabilitation counselor does:

How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor

rehabilitation counselor helping man

A rehabilitation counselor normally needs a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a similar field. Usually, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient to enter into the master’s degree program. These programs teach student skills, theories, and techniques that are used in mental health counseling, as well as training in understanding the psychological and mental aspects of a disability. They learn to evaluate a patient’s requirements and implement and formulate job placement.

Along with this training, a period of supervised clinical experience is required like an internship. Obtaining a duel-degree in rehabilitation counseling is possible in some universities where one can secure both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 5 years. In addition a license may be required, though each state varies. Some have different requirements than others for the licensing for a rehabilitation counselor as well as certification requirements; therefore we encourage you to check with your state medical boards for more information.

Job Description of a Rehabilitation Counselor

A rehabilitation counselor is responsible for evaluating a patient’s interest, abilities, health, skills, education, and experience in order to help them live and work independently with their mental, physical, emotional, or developmental disabilities. They offer group or individual counseling to those coping with their disability. They would arrange for the person to receive special services needed for career training or medical care. He or she works with other professionals to develop a treatment program to help the client with their goals.

A rehabilitation counselor educates employers in understanding the laws and resources available as well as the needs of the disabled employee. A rehabilitation counselor is an advocate of the client and helps them to adjust to the limitations of the disability, as well as to develop their strengths. They help locate wheelchairs if necessary or obtain computer programs to assist the client to live and work as independently as possible. He or she works with people in a wide range of ages.

Some rehabilitation counselors choose to help students or veterans who are struggling with physical or mental challenges. Others may enjoy helping the elderly. A rehabilitation counselor should be compassionate, a critical thinker, and have interpersonal skills. They should also have patience and be a good listener.

Rehabilitation Counselor Career Video Transcript

Getting a job and living independently are vital goals for many people who have disabilities. Rehabilitation counselors help individuals who have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities to overcome barriers to employment or independent living. After developing a treatment plan for a client, they arrange for services such as medical care or career training, and find resources like wheelchairs or assistive technology.

Rehab counselors may work with students to develop strategies to complete their education and transition to work. Some help veterans cope with the physical or mental effects of their military service. Others help elderly clients reconnect with activities and a lifestyle they enjoyed before an illness.

Vocational rehabilitation counselors specialize in helping working-age clients deal with employment issues. Rehabilitation counselors are advocates for the rights of people with disabilities and often work with employers to understand the abilities of their clients, as well as explaining laws related to hiring and accommodating disability in the workplace. Rehab counselors also provide consultation for legal issues around the impact of injuries on work activities.

Typical work settings include community rehabilitation centers, nursing homes or senior centers, and youth guidance organizations. Some positions require evening or weekend hours. Rehabilitation counselors generally need a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field. Some positions require certification or a license.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Rehabilitation Counselors.

National Center for O*NET Development. 21-1015.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

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