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How to Become a Rehabilitation Counsellor

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Many individuals suffer from mental, developmental, or physical disabilities. These disabilities usually seem like hindrances to a quality life, but they are not. Rehabilitation makes it possible for these set of humans to blend properly into their societies, and hence the reason the world needs Rehabilitation counsellors.

Rehabilitation counselling can be described as a process where a counsellor works collaboratively with a client to identify and understand their challenges, barriers and potentials. They help clients to effectively use their personal and environmental resources for career, personal, social, and community adjustment while living with any form of disability. Counsellors in this field also assist individuals to settle in and adapt properly into their environment as well as set up the environment to accommodate them.

Furthermore, Rehabilitation Counselling is set up to help challenged individuals find access, navigate society, and live a functional life. It is a type of psychology that can help disabled individuals remedy their conditions or eliminate the feeling of “less-than”.

Rehabilitation counselling is a growing profession and is fast becoming valuable as social scientists get better understandings of how people function mentally, cognitively, and socially. This development in understanding brings about easy identification of the causes of the problems that people living with disabilities face and methods to cope with these problems.

Rehabilitation Counselling became a distinct profession in 1930 after the Smith-Fess Act was passed, which established the federal-state vocational rehabilitation (VR) program. This act was later amended in 1997 and allowed Rehabilitation Counsellors to work in various settings including proprietary rehabilitation companies, private practice, private non-profit rehabilitation facilities/organizations, insurance companies, medical centres or general hospitals, and businesses/corporations. The central role of rehabilitation counselling has not changed, but the specific functions vary according to the setting.

rehabilitation counsellor with a child

Who is a Rehabilitation Counsellor?

A Rehabilitation Counsellor is a specialist who understands the effects of disability, health conditions, and the impact that ableism has on people’s lives. A Rehabilitation Counsellor knows the important roles that work and education play in achieving inclusion, independence, and optimism.

Responsibilities of a Rehabilitation Counsellor

The primary duty of a Rehabilitation Counsellor is helping people whose conditions are considered abnormal to live normal lives. If you plan to pursue a career in the field, your responsibilities will also include:

  1. Analyzing information from interviews, consultations, education, and medical records to ensure that you properly identify your client’s needs and abilities.
  2. Developing a working set of procedures to determine clients’ needs.
  3. Setting up physical, academic, vocational, and mental assessments to get information that will help you help the client.
  4. Working with clients’ family members to implement rehabilitation plans and achieve rehabilitation goals.
  5. Establishing a working network of community referral sources such as schools and community groups.
  6. Monitoring clients’ rehabilitation progress to make sure that rehabilitation goals are met.
  7. Preparing and maintaining case and record files that include clients’ personal and eligibility information, services provided, a narrative of client contacts, and other relevant documentation.
  8. Working with relevant agencies to establish facilities and programs for people with disabilities.
  9. Identifying the barriers to your clients’ life in employment and other areas. For example, inaccessible working sites are a barrier to the employment of disabled individuals.
  10. Working with organizations that can help your clients find employment.


Skills of a Rehabilitation Counsellor

Dedication: As a Rehabilitation Counsellor, you must display concern and dedication while actively searching for ways to assist your clients. This is important because clients need Rehabilitation Counsellors that are interested in and dedicated to their welfare. This dedication translates into a meaningful client-counsellor relationship.

Empathy: As a Rehabilitation Counsellor, you must be sensitive and compassionate towards traumatized clients. This is one of the most important qualities of a Rehabilitation Counsellor. You must be able to imagine yourself in your client’s shoes so that you can identify how best to help them. You must understand their struggles and emotional challenges. It is also important to avoid identifying too much with your clients.

Communication Skills: Rehabilitation Counsellors work with people who have physical, cognitive, emotional, and social disabilities, it is very important that they possess excellent communication skills and be able to explain concepts and ideas to their clients in a way that is easy to understand. As a Rehabilitation Counsellor, you must understand the importance of nonverbal communication like eye contact as they can be used for many purposes.

Active Listening skills: As a Rehabilitation Counsellor, you must have the ability to pay full attention to what your clients are saying. You must be patient and avoid interruptions, as well as asking only relevant questions.

Problem-Solving Skills: this is important because Rehabilitation Counsellors help people with problems; those who need help. It is your responsibility to help them. You should be able to identify the specific concerns of your clients and determine when interventions are useful. As a Rehabilitation Counsellor, you must enjoy helping your clients with the challenges that they face and help them overcome said problems.

rehabilitation counsellor with a child


Educational Requirements for  an Aspiring Rehabilitation Counsellor

To pursue a career in Rehabilitation Counselling, you need a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation services, counselling, psychology, or other related fields. Some employers require master’s degrees in rehabilitation counselling, counselling, and guidance, or counselling psychology. Below are some reputable schools you can bag any of these degrees.

  1. Kent State University in the United States of America: Offers a Psychology-B.S. degree. The program is designed to prepare students for graduate study in psychology and other related fields. It teaches students about stress and trauma, the neural basis of learning and memory, social and biological influences on mental and physical health, growth and development of children, and diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders. This program also prepares students for graduate studies in psychology which is important for Rehabilitation Counselling. The tuition for international students is $20,463.
  2. Bradford University in the United Kingdom: Offers a Psychology with Counselling BSc (Hons) degree. The program is structured to give you the tools you need to help people to explore their lives, their emotions, and the issues that underlie their difficulties. It will help you gain a strong understanding of core psychological concepts and practices, and the professional applications of psychology, while learning concepts, ethics, and techniques related to counselling. The tuition for international students is £16,090. The duration of the program is 3 years full-time.
  3. The University of Limerick in Ireland: Offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree. The program is designed to provide a broad introduction to the discipline, followed by coverage of the core areas of study required for accreditation by the Psychological Society of Ireland, as well as allowing you to specialize in advanced areas in your final year of study. It will teach you in areas such as social, developmental, biological, and cognitive psychology as well as personality and individual differences and research methods and statistics. The duration of the program is 4 years full-time and the tuition for international students is €16,465.

Job Outlook and Salary for Rehabilitation Counsellors

Rehabilitation Counsellors are expected to see an increase of 10% in employment from 2018 to 2028 which is faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for Rehabilitation Counsellors will grow due to the increase in the population of elderly people and other groups that need rehabilitation such as veterans and people with disabilities.

  • According to Neuvoo, the average salary for Rehabilitation Counsellors is £89,378 per year in the United Kingdom.
  • Payscale estimates the average salary for Rehabilitation Counsellors in the United States of America as $45,699 per year.
  • According to Neuvoo, the average salary for Rehabilitation Counsellors in Canada is $69,923 per year.
  • On Salaryexplorer, the average salary for Counsellors in Nigeria is 373,000 NGN per month.

Typical Employers of Rehabilitation Counsellors

Rehabilitation Counsellors work with individuals with disabilities, they will typically be employed by one of the following:

  • The state government, excluding education and hospitals
  • Individual and family services
  • Community and vocational rehabilitation services
  • Nursing and residential care facilities


Postgraduate Options for Rehabilitation Counsellors

For a career in Rehabilitation Counselling, it is important to have a master’s degree in the subject because undergraduate degrees do not focus enough to aid specialization. Here are some Rehabilitation Counselling degrees you can get:

  • Rehabilitation Counselling MSc from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. The program is designed to teach you the impact of physical illness and disability on psychological functioning and help you understand issues related to assessment, rehabilitation, and recovery of people with physical illness and disability. It will help you learn what difficulties someone might have because of their illness or disability through to rehabilitation through what interventions may be helpful. The university has expertise in areas such as chronic illness, neuropsychological rehabilitation, and complex interventions, which means that you will be taught by experts at the forefront of current research and clinical practice in the field. The duration of the program is 12 months full-time and 24 months part-time. The tuition for international students will be confirmed by August 2020.
  • Rehabilitation Counselling M.Sc. from the University of Pittsburgh in the United States of America. The program is designed to prepare students to practice the profession of Rehabilitation Counselling and is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). It teaches courses on rehabilitation research, foundations of rehabilitation counselling, counselling services, medical and psycho-social aspects of disability, case management, vocational and career development, assessment, job development and placement, rehabilitation science, and assistive technology and disability studies. The duration of the program is 24 months full-time and the tuition for international students is $46,814.

rehabilitation counsellor holding child's hands

Professional certifications for Rehabilitation Counsellors

To pursue a career in Rehabilitation Counselling, you need to be licensed or certified. Most employers prefer the Rehabilitation Counsellors to hold a certification that is related to the profession. Some of these certifications are:

Certified Rehabilitation Counsellor (CRC) certification: The Commission on Rehabilitation Counsellor Certification offers this certification. Applicants for this certification must meet advanced education, work experience, and clinical supervision requirements and pass a test. They must renew the certification every 5 years. To renew the certification, you must complete education requirements or pass a re-examination. The application fee is $410. The fee covers both application and examination fees. If you are deemed ineligible to sit for the exam, you will receive a refund of $100.

Certificate in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Massachusetts Boston: The certificate program offers a seven-course sequence for students who have completed a master’s degree in a related field and are interested in taking the national exam to become a certified rehabilitation counsellor (CRC). The program meets the standards set by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

National Certified Counselor (NCC): This certification is the premier of the National Board of Certified Counselors. This certification demonstrates to your colleagues and the public that you have voluntarily met high national standards for the practice of counselling. It shows expertise in counselling knowledge and skills. It flexes your graduate degree. You earn it by going through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) counselling program, passing a rigorous national examination, the documentation of work experience and supervision requirements, and subscribing to the highest ethical and practice standards.

Careers Related to Rehabilitation Counselling

Counselling Psychology: A counselling psychologist works in the mental health field, helping people with emotional and mental health issues improve and get rid of feelings of distress. Counselling psychologists are the professionals that give the field of psychology its humanity. The absence of these individuals would mean that all the studies into neuropsychology would not be practically applied.

Mental Health Nurse: Mental Health Nurses specialize in working with specific groups, such as children or older people, or in a specific area such as eating disorders, psychosis, personality disorders, drugs and alcohol, depression and anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Psychological Wellness Practitioner: PWPs work to assess and support adults who are experiencing common mental health difficulties such as mild to moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and low mood. As a Psychological Wellness Practitioner, you will offer several low-intensity, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-based interventions that will help your patients to manage their recovery.

To learn how to enroll for an academic or professional program in Rehabilitation Counselling, send me an email right away. I am willing to assist.


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