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Rehabilitation Counseling Today

Rehabilitation counselors help people deal with the intense emotional and social effects that come from dealing with a disability.

The role of a rehabilitation counselor is an essential one in the rehab process. They advise and evaluate people with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities, whether they are the result of lifelong causes or a more recent illness or accident. Understanding the strengths and limitations of each of these individuals helps rehabilitation counselors provide a clearly defined and personalized course of action, including suggestions for medical care, housing, vocational training, and job placement. A rehabilitation counselor’s main goal is increasing the independence and self sufficiency of the disabled person—making them feel like the healthy, contributing member of society that they are.

Rehab counselors often work closely with other medical and mental health professionals to determine the true capabilities, skills, and possible limitations of an individual. For example, they might work with a speech therapist, a physical therapist, and a neurologist to establish the best course of continued treatment for a patient following a stroke that left them partially paralyzed. Or, they might work with an occupational therapist and an individual rehabilitation program to help teach a patient a whole new set of skills after a motorcycle accident that left them in a wheelchair, so that they may go back to work. In both instances, the rehabilitation counselor would also make sure that the patient was also being given proper psychological care to meet their emotional needs during this difficult time. For someone facing a disability (especially someone who has never been labeled “disabled” before) it can be very difficult to adjust to their new life.

Rehabilitation counselors work in a wide variety of settings, depending on their area of expertise. Many of them wok in hospitals, private rehab centers, substance abuse centers, within school systems, and even as a part of community based rehabilitation agencies. Some rehab counselors prefer to specialize in certain individuals that have a particular disability, such as those with developmental disorders, or those with the same medical issues, like cancer or AIDS. Others prefer to work within large corporations and businesses, as part of the job training center or the employee assistance programs.

Wherever they choose to work, rehabilitation counselors are an invaluable part of the psychological and medical community. They allow those struggling to overcome a disability to once again become members of the society to which they used to belong.