What Is a Rehabilitation Counselor?
These types of counselors are concerned with helping patients whose disabilities have significant effects on their personal, social, or work lives. They use different methods of counseling to address patients’ physical or emotional problems that stem from diseases, accidents, illnesses, or birth defects.
When it comes to new patients, rehabilitation counselors will begin treatment by assessing strengths and limitations in order to determine their capabilities. This typically includes interviewing patients, speaking with family members, examining medical reports, evaluating school records, and consulting with other professionals involved with the patient. Taking this information they then develop rehabilitation programs that involve things like job training, skill development, educational services, support groups, and referrals to other resources.
Rehabilitation counselors work closely with other health professionals like doctors, psychologists, and speech, occupational, and physical therapists. They work in health-related environments at private practices, community organizations, treatment programs, or hospitals. Most work during regular business hours and see patients by appointment throughout the day, but may also work evenings and weekends.
How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor
Those interested in becoming rehabilitation counselors should earn a bachelor’s degree in an area related to health or psychology before entering a master’s program in rehabilitation counseling.
In these types of counseling programs, students learn about human develop and psychology, as well as counseling methods, program evaluation, and career and personal development. Common courses include counseling theory and techniques, vocational analysis and placement, psychopathology, social and cultural issues in rehabilitation counseling, techniques of assessment and evaluation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medical and psychological aspects of disability. Most graduate programs require students to complete a clinical practicum or internship to obtain practical counseling experience.
Depending on the state and type of environment a counselor wants to work in, they may be required to pass a licensing examination or earn specific certifications. Some employers may provide on-the-job training and it is not uncommon for beginning counselors to start out in entry-level or assistant positions before advancing to independent practice.
Rehabilitation Counselor Career Outlook & Salary
Disabled people often have a different way of doing things and rehabilitation counselors can help them figure out just what those ways are. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of counselors is projected to grow by 18% within the next decade, with employment in the field rehabilitation counseling increasing by 19%. This is due to an increase in the treatment of mental health related disabilities and an expanding elderly population that has a higher rate of injuries and disabilities.
The chances of obtaining a counseling job are high, since there will likely be more job openings than individuals who successfully complete graduate counseling programs. Licensed counselors with a high quality education, specialized certifications, and relevant experience will have the most lucrative careers.
The Bureau reported that the median annual wages of rehabilitation counselors was $30,930 in May 2008, with those working within State government, local government, and vocational rehabilitation services earning the highest amounts.