Shadowing a DoctorSeptember 9, 2014
Education & training requirements
To be able to practice as a certified rehabilitation counsellor, you must hold a master’s degree in rehabilitation counselling or in an associated field such as disability studies or behavioural health. A master’s program requires about two to three years of schooling beyond the bachelor’s level and will typically cover topics such as counselling theories and strategies, treatment planning and career development. All accredited counselling programs include extensive, supervised clinical experience as part of the curriculum.
Most graduate level counselling programs accept students from across all majors, providing they meet their other qualifying criteria. Some schools may require applicants to obtain certain academic scores or meet specific experience requirements in order to qualify for admission.
Before obtaining your CRC licence to practice, you will have to pass a computer-based certification examination covering disability management, assessment, counselling skills, career development and case management. To ensure that clients get the highest level of care, most employers and licensing bodies require rehabilitation counsellors to engage in regular continuous professional education programmes in order to update their skills and keep up with the latest development in the field.
Necessary personal attributes & skills
Counselling requires outstanding speaking and listening skills. As a rehabilitation counsellor you must be able to work effectively with people who may have difficulty communicating and understanding.
It is equally important to have excellent people skills and an outgoing nature to be able to build strong therapeutic relationships with clients and to work together with them and their family members as well as their employers and other associated professionals.
Emotional resilience and patience are necessary attributes for a rehab counsellor to be able to handle the setbacks or conflicts that could sometimes arise. This usually happens in the beginning stages of the treatment.
Most professionals who choose this specialty are drawn to it by their inherent compassion and empathy for people living with disabilities.
There are plenty of opportunities for advancement in this specialty. As an experienced CRC you may be promoted to supervise the work of others as an agency administrator or director of counselling services. If the agency setting is not what you are looking for, you could open a private practice or conduct research in the lab. Obtaining a doctorate in rehabilitation counselling qualifies you to teach at university level.
The aging of the population is the major reason behind the increasing demand for qualified CRCs. As they age, people are more likely to experience various disabilities resulting in a growing need for counsellors who are capable of working with those living with Alzheimer’s disease, orthopaedic problems or the effects of a stroke. Rehabilitation counsellors play a vital role in helping the elderly stay at home, which not only enhances quality of life but also eases the financial burden on the healthcare system.