Rehabilitation Counselor Career Information, Jobs, Degrees & Training Programs

Rehabilitation counselors assist disabled people deal with problems related to their disabilities. Their patients include people who've been disabled from serious diseases, birth defects, severe injuries, strokes, and degenerative illnesses. One of their main duties is to empower their patients to live more independently. They also assist patients cope with chronic pain, locate resources, overcome behavioral problems, and properly manage stress. Rehabilitation counselors assess their patients' abilities and weaknesses to properly develop rehabilitation programs suiting them. To do this, they consult patients' doctors, medical records, families, and friends. They also attempt to locate social groups and activities for their patients. After consulting with doctors and other people about patients' abilities, rehabilitation counselors discuss what modifications should be made at their jobs with employers. Rehabilitation counselors must possess excellent interpersonal and problem-solving skills, in addition to being empathetic.

Work Environment

Rehabilitation counselors assist patients at hospitals, community centers, and government-funded rehabilitation clinics. They also work at residential care centers, correctional facilities, halfway houses, substance abuse rehabilitation facilities, and educational institutions.

Education and Training

No formal job requirements exist in this profession, but most rehabilitation counselors hold bachelor's degrees in human services, sociology, psychology, or rehabilitation services. Rehabilitation counselor master's programs typically take 2-4 years to complete, during which time students will acquire clinical experience.

Before enrolling in a program, review your state's counseling licensing requirements. It's also important to learn about the hiring requirements of potential employers since they vary by organization, specialty, and location.

Licensing: The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) determines what requirements rehabilitation counselors must satisfy to become nationally certified. State licensing boards typically mandate counselors be certified to practice professionally.

Before certifying rehabilitation counselors, the CRCC mandates that each one obtain a master's degree in rehabilitation or general counseling, complete supervised clinical work, and pass a test.

Entering the Field: Many rehabilitation counselors begin their careers as human services specialists at outpatient clinics, where they assist disabled individuals become more independent. To qualify for a position in human services, most organizations require undergraduate degrees in counseling, social science, psychology, or human services.

Although some state licensing boards permit rehabilitation counselors with bachelor's degrees and applicable experience to practice professionally, the majority require master's degrees.

Career Changers: Counselors holding master's degrees can make career transitions by certifying with the CRCC.

Job Outlook

Job growth for rehabilitation counselors is expected to increase steadily through the near future. Growth will be spurred as more companies hire rehabilitation counselors to assist disabled employees. Currently, 45 million Americans with mental and physical disabilities require assistance, but demand for rehabilitation counselors currently exceeds supply.

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