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There is an assortment of places to work in rehabilitation counseling, some of which are: outpatient mental health centers, residential mental health facilities, veteran’s hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, government agencies, and private practice. Rehabilitation counselors help people with disabilities to achieve their personal, social, psychological and vocational goals. They counsel people with physical, sensory, developmental and cognitive disabilities and those with mental health or other health conditions that are acquired at birth or resulting from illness, disease, accident, military service and/or ongoing stress. This means being able to assess and evaluate client’s needs, being able to formulate a rehabilitation treatment plan and understanding the medical, psychological and social implications and aspects of a disability.

One of the workplaces mentioned in the previous paragraph is government agencies, particularly at the state level. One of the best means of addressing the captioned question is to look at specific job postings. For example, the Iowa Department of Administrative Services has an April 2017 job posting for a Rehabilitation Counselor. Duties include: counseling and comprehensive rehabilitation services which include the design and implementation of individualized rehabilitation programs. Person hired will also assist physically/mentally disabled citizens in finding and retaining suitable employment and perform other related duties as required. Starting salary is $48,443.

There are also specialty areas, as posted by the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired seeking a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Duties are comprised of providing vocational rehabilitation services for blind and visually impaired persons, including analysis of diagnostic reports, determination of program eligibility, development of individual rehabilitation programs, job development and placement.

In the private sector, there are facilities that provide rehabilitation programs for individuals with acquired brain injuries, either through stroke, or head injury of various causes.  A counselor employed in this capacity provides therapy and guidance to patients and family members as a part of total patient care. The counselor will test and evaluate patients as she/he works to restore the cognitive, behavioral, and social functions of the individual. The major focal areas are adjustment to disability, self-worth, motivation, family issues, transitional reactions, sexuality, and social behavior.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is a key employment source as there are opportunities scattered across the USA. Most jobs are titled as Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRC’s). Their primary function is to provide and coordinate a wide range of rehabilitation counseling and case management services to disabled veterans and other eligible individuals. A VRC provides case management services including coordination of all rehabilitation services, employment services, documentation of progress and adjustment and maintenance of case records according to VA regulations.  The VA attests to having  the largest, most technologically advanced integrated health care system in the nation.  More importantly, the VA encourages persons with disabilities to apply, (i.e., intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities), and/or Disabled Veterans with a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more.

The majority of these and similar job postings stipulate that a master’s degree is required, as well as experience in some cases. Returning to campus to escalate your education may not be feasible for some professionals currently working in counseling or related field. For those who prefer to maintain their present occupation, there are several top online master’s degree programs in rehabilitation counseling to consider. Another milestone, in addition to a master’s degree, is to obtain your Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).   The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC), the world’s largest rehabilitation counseling organization is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. Counselors who have achieve the CRC designation possess a marketable and valued credential that distinguishes them from other counseling professionals.