Rehabilitation Counselor

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Rehabilitation Counselor


Life is never easy for anyone. But add in a challenge like blindness, the inability to use your arms, or a brain injury, and life just got that much harder.

Many children, adolescents, and adults live with physical and mental challenges. Rehabilitation counselors assist these people to develop strategies to meet these challenges, enabling them to live independently. Rehabilitation counselors, working with members of a team which includes doctors, family members, and social service workers, assess, design, and implement programs and access services which help establish this sought-after independence. Through their work with government agencies, hospitals, group homes, school boards, and correctional facilities, these hardworking people can have a profoundly important impact on those in need. They help with housing, education, and employment issues, identifying programs and services which may be of use. Rehabilitation counselors may focus on one age group, or one specific challenge, such as working exclusively with children, or amputees.

Their work may be done one-on-one, with entire families, or in group sessions. A rehabilitation counselor may choose to use games, workshops, crafts sessions, or discussions to teach, inform, and advise their clients on life skills and emotional and physical coping techniques.

Rehabilitation counseling is not an easy job. Each facet, from working with people who have been blind since birth to assisting people who are newly paralyzed, brings its own challenges and rewards. A rehabilitation counselor must be emotionally stable, compassionate, and willing to fight for their clients. A successful counselor will be a dedicated employee who puts in long, hard hours on the job, and remembers to relax off duty.
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Grand Canyon University
Does the Human Mind Fascinate You? Study Psychology at Grand Canyon University - Bachelor's and Master's Degrees Available!
Programs Offered:
  • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with Emphasis in Prevention
  • M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in Family Dynamics
  • And more...



  Average Earnings  
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Median Salary:
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in a career in rehabilitation? Rehabilitation counselors should be mature, patient, sensitive and non-judgmental, as well as resourceful, emotionally stable, and flexible when it comes to hours, workplace, and client behavior. They need to have a genuine desire to help all people, and be willing to come up with creative, innovative solutions for each individual client. They need to be positive, enthusiastic , persistant and a motivating force for their clients. They should also have an interest in activism, and be articulate, as they will be speaking on behalf of marginalized people who need you to fight for their rights, freedoms, and respect.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Interview clients to learn background information
  • Actively encourage clients and their families to join programs and discussion groups
  • Assess and investigate eligibility for social benefits
  • Meet with clients regularly, giving support and discussing any difficulties or problems
  • Refer clients to other social services
  • Run various kinds of workshops and social service programs
  • Contact potential employers
  • Assist in evaluating the treatment programs by monitoring clients' behavioral changes
  • Communicate client information with other social service agencies
  • Maintain a safe emotional distance from clients
  • There is no typical day for a rehabilitation counselor. Depending on where they work, in a group home, or for a hospital or clinic, part of the day will be spent assessing clients, developing treatment plans, and writing reports about the client's progress. They will work in group sessions or independently with clients, trying to foster in the clients a positive self image and feelings of self-worth.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • A rehabilitation counselor's working conditions depend on where they work. If they work for a group home, they will work shifts, overnights, evenings, and weekends. If they work for clinics, they may only work during the day, with some evening hours being spent at meetings or seminars. They may have an office, or share one with other members of their team, which can include social workers, doctors, outreach workers, and life skills instructors. They will most likely be employed by governments, in hospitals or rehab centers and other social service initiatives.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Rehabilitation counselors may choose to go back to school, and become a licensed social worker, nurse, or physician. They can always become an employment counselor, a career counselor, or get into disability management or access support and equality with a design firm or municipal government. They may choose to teach workshops, or train to be a private counselor for families and individuals. It is also possible that a former rehabilitation counselor may become a full-time activist, fighting for the rights and freedoms of former clients.

  Educational Paths  
Unlike social workers, who usually require a bachelor's degree in social work from a university, rehabilitation counselors are generally only required to have obtained a college diploma in rehabilitation counseling. It may be beneficial to do some additional recreation training, as well as study psychology and first aid. Some rehabilitation counselors might consider working towards a bachelor's degree in social work or another field related to their interests, as with a bachelor's degree they can be eligible for certification.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

Featured Schools

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Grand Canyon University
Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
Programs Offered:
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  • M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in Family Dynamics
  • And more...

Walden University
Earn a respected bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D. online at Walden University.
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Saint Leo University
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Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

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Purdue University Global


World-Class Education Tailored for Working Adults

Building on Purdue's mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Globaldelivers a fully personalized online experience tailored for working adults.

Programs Offered:
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The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School is a not-for-profit, regionally accredited institution with more than 4,285 students at campuses across the country and online. 

Programs Offered:
  • M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
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