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.
What does a Rehabilitation Counselor do?
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.
How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor
Rehabilitation counselors typically complete a mental health counseling graduate program as they require the theories, skills, and techniques that a Master’s in mental health counseling can provide. While some employers offer positions to individuals who pursued only a Bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation and disability studies, they do not offer a full range of services that a certified rehabilitation counselor would.
After completion of a master’s degree program in counseling, rehabilitation counselors pursue licensure as a professional counselor then certification through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC).
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
- State Government
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.