What is Rehabilitation Counseling?

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"Rehabilitation counseling" is a discipline that provides counseling services to people with disabilities to help them achieve their personal, academic, and career goals. Rehabilitation counselors often work in collaboration with health care professionals providing coordination of services as part of a rehabilitation team. They support family members, employers, and other stakeholders. A primary focus is to help individuals develop self-advocacy skills and increase independence.

The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) further defines rehabilitation counseling as “a systematic process which assists persons with physical, mental, developmental, cognitive, and emotional disabilities to achieve their personal, career, and independent living goals in the most integrated setting possible through the application of the counseling process. The counseling process involves communication, goal setting, and beneficial growth or change through self-advocacy, psychological, vocational, social, and behavioral intervention.”

The discipline began in the mid 1950's when the federal government first made funds available to develop and support rehabilitation counseling programs. Today, the CRCC grants certification to counselors who complete rehabilitation counseling masters programs and pass a certifying exam. Several professional organizations support stakeholders and practitioners, including the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association, the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association, and the National Rehabilitation Association.

For more information about rehabilitation counseling programs, visit the US News Rehabilitation Counseling Programs Ranking 2011 website.

Last update or review: July 29, 2014