Although sometimes mistaken for addiction professionals, rehabilitation counselors are certified by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) and directly work with individuals with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities to live independently. Rehabilitation counselors may provide a wide range of services from assessment, case management, and program research to interventions to remove environmental barriers, job analysis and development, and consultation services with other agencies.
Some counselors in the rehabilitation field are referred to as vocational. These counselors work specifically with employment issues with older students and adults. Other populations that may encounter rehabilitation counseling include students transitioning from school to work, veterans, and elderly people in adaptation to changes in their lifestyle.
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Counselors in rehabilitation perform and engage in a wide array of activities and responsibilities. Differing from a mental health counselor, rehabilitation professionals work with clients who have physical, emotional, developmental, or mental disabilities in creating a plan that fits their level of education, aptitude, physical abilities, and career goals. Often collaborating with other social service and mental health professionals, rehabilitation counselors also address barriers to employment, engage in job development and placement programs, and arrange for evaluations of physical, mental, academic, and vocational needs.
The Commission on Rehabilitation Counseling Certification (CRCC) describes the role of rehabilitation counselors as providing analysis and diagnostic information on mental, emotional, or behavioral conditions of their clients in order to develop an appropriate treatment plan for adjustment or healthy development. Through counseling treatment interventions such as developmental, wellness, pathologic, and multicultural lenses, rehabilitation counselors address their clients behavior through individual, group, family, and marriage counseling and psychotherapy.
Steps to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor
Step 1: Complete a bachelor’s degree in a rehabilitation and disability studies, behavioral, social science, or psychology field.
Because a master’s degree is a requirement for licensure, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation and disability studies or related fields sets the groundwork for rehabilitation counseling students. Coursework for undergraduate studies in these fields will typically include the evaluation of human development, counseling foundation, theories of personality, assessments, and/or vocational evaluations.
Step 2: Earn a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.
There are many CACREP accredited universities that offer studies specifically in rehabilitation counseling. Obtaining your graduate degree in rehabilitation counseling is a requirement for for practice as a licensed professional counselor and/or certified rehabilitation counselor.
Step 3: Complete graduate and postgraduate internship experience for certification/licensure requirements.
As a crucial aspect of accredited counseling master’s programs, graduate supervised counseling experience provides students with insight into their future role as a licensed professional counselor, gaining hands-on experience under other professional counselors.
Step 4: Pass any required rehabilitation counseling exams for licensure and certification.
Some states and/or counseling programs require the passing of a recognized examination for gradation or licensure such as the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and/or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). To become a certified rehabiliation counselor (CRC), you must pass the CRC examination.
Step 5: Apply for and earn additional counseling certifications.
Licensed professional counselors can pursue a national certification through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). Rehabilitation counselors are required to pursue certification as a CRC for professional practice.
Step 6: Continue your education and stay up to date on rehabilitation counseling trends and changes.
Continuing education is imperative to maintaining professional counseling licensure/certification and keeping up-to-date with changes and/or updates to rehabilitation, vocational, and career counseling fields.
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What are the certification and licensure requirements?
Similar to other counseling careers, certification and licensure requirements vary from state to state. Some employers require that rehabilitation counselors are certified by the CRCC as they require an examination and establishes applicants as distinguished professionals in the field of rehabilitation.
Licensure for rehabilitation counselors is the same track as mental health counselors: completion of 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical service and a passing score on a state-recognized exam.
Career Outlook for Rehabilitation Counselors
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that rehabilitation counseling will grow by nine percent in the next seven years - higher than average. As the elderly population grows, the need for rehabilitation counselors rises.
Most Common Places of Employment:
Vocational Rehabilitation Facilities
Individual and Family Services
California, New York, and Pennsylvania employ the most rehabilitation counselors offering an average salary of about $35,000. The states that offer more than $46,000 a year include Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Louisiana. Trenton, NJ and New Haven, CT, however, offer the highest salary of more than $65,000.