Explore a career as a certified rehabilitation counsellor – Part 1

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Job description and work settings

A certified rehabilitation counsellor or CRC helps disabled people live full and independent lives and accomplish their personal objectives. Whether their clients hope to return to their job or simply reduce their dependency on others, rehabilitation counsellors equip them with the strategies and skills they need to achieve their goals. 

CRCs help people with a wide range of disabilities, including:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Mobility impairment
  • Sensory impairment (blindness, deafness)
  • Language and communication disorders
  • Chronic disease
  • Mental illness
  • Addiction and substance abuse

 

Gap Medics student Liam in the pediatric department, Iringa Regional Hospital, Tanzania Detailed job description

Certified rehabilitation counsellors do not simply help people with disabilities overcome their visible or recognisable limitations. They understand the emotional, occupational and social barriers their clients face and help them take steps to overcome these barriers. They also help their clients explore their needs and interests through personal and group counselling sessions. Assessments are used to create a clearer picture of clients’ skills and abilities. Through supportive therapy, counsellors help their clients deal with feelings of helplessness, anger, depression and frustration and to develop the fortitude they need to move forward. Where needed, CRCs connect their clients with relevant community resources and helpful organisations so they can get the support they need.

Certified rehabilitation counsellors also work with employers to help them accommodate the on-the-job needs of employees with disabilities.

Most disabilities are complex conditions requiring a suite of skills and knowledge. To ensure that their clients get the best care possible, rehabilitation counsellors generally practice within a team of professionals including physicians, psychologists, nurses and social workers. These professionals work together to coordinate client care and develop an individualised treatment plan.

For rehabilitation counsellors, the greatest reward lies in seeing their clients succeed in achieving their goals, whether it is a disabled high school student landing their first job or a wounded soldier being able to re-join the workforce. These professionals also play a significant part in raising public awareness about disability issues and achieving social justice for the disabled.

 

Work settings

As a rehabilitation counsellor you may work with vocational rehabilitation services or with various state departments and community agencies serving the disabled. Educational institutions and correctional facilities also employ a significant number of rehab counsellors. With sufficient experience you could also open your own private practice.

Generally, most of the rehabilitation process takes place in the client’s everyday environment, so rehab counsellors often travel to homes, schools and workplaces to meet and work with their clients. They spend much of their work time interacting with clients, their family and members of the treatment team as well as others that their client interacts with on a daily basis. Assistive technologies such as electric wheelchairs and even iPad apps play a significant role in the rehab process.

Most CRCs work full time during regular business hours. Evening and weekend sessions are often required to accommodate school-going and working clients.

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