Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling

Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling programs teach students how to help people holistically with their physical, mental, developmental or emotional disabilities to live and function independently. Rehabilitation Counselors are the well-trained professionals who locate wheelchairs for their clients so they can move about their homes, provide counseling to veterans, and may aid in vocational placement. Their skills in client centered approaches help their clients integrate and participate in their communities. As a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling is considered entry-level education, rehabilitation counselors are schooled at the graduate level[i]. If you have a patient and compassionate nature, tend to be a good listener, communicator, and thinker, why not leverage these talents?

Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling Info

Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling Program Essentials

Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling programs equip aspiring rehab counselors with the theoretical knowledge, skill sets and counseling techniques to help them provide effective clinical mental health counseling. This means being able to assess and evaluate client’s needs, being able to formulate a rehabilitation treatment plan and understanding the medical, psychological and social implications and aspects of a disability. Typically, 2-years of full time study, students interested in a Rehabilitation Counseling program need a Bachelor’s degree from most fields such as Bachelor in Human Services. It is common that in addition to coursework, there be an internship or period of supervised clinical experience which is usually between 2,000 and 4,000 hours, and forms part of state licensure requirements[ii].

DID YOU KNOW? Licensure for Rehabilitation Counselors typically requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors must pass a state-recognized exam. To maintain their licensure, counselors must complete annual continuing education credits.[iii]

Choosing a Rehabilitation Counseling Master’s Program

Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling programs are commonly offered as Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees. The one you select often reflects whether you have an undergraduate arts or science degree and what type of career you want to have. Broadly speaking, a Master of Arts has more general counseling courses and requires a thesis to graduate. A Master of Science in counseling tends to be oriented for those who are seeking a specialty such as crisis counseling, working with autism spectrum disorders or substance abuse problems. It is also possible that your program may offer specific skills for working in different settings; vocational rehabilitation services, government, individuals and family services, nursing and residential care facilities, youth guidance are a few of the work environments that employ rehabilitation counselors.

Specialization in Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling Programs

A master’s level education provides students with the option of taking additional courses in one particular subject. Rehabilitation counselors may specialize in a variety of areas:

  • Individual or group counseling
  • Vocational Counseling
  • Medical or psychosocial diagnoses, analyses, and treatment
  • Rehabilitation research
  • Mental, physical, emotional, or social disabilities or disadvantages
  • Counseling for Veterans, the elderly or populations with impairments

Campus or Online Counseling Degree?

The other thing to consider in your search is whether you are looking for a university or college where you can take your courses on campus or whether you prefer distance-learning. In the event you are interested in counseling graduate schools, an easy way to find them is a location search by city, state or country. If you are a working student, earning your Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling Degree online may be more convenient to access. Some of the online master’s degrees may be only partially online (called hybrid), and they tend to offer most of your courses through a web portal with scheduled visits to campus. Use these program formats to refine your search, it makes things a bit easier.

CACREP and CORE Accreditation

Course curriculum varies between schools, however, accredited programs do tend to follow guidelines vis a vis the material they present. The Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) has recently merged with the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education. They now have what is called “CACREP/CORE dual accreditation which “infuses disability concepts into the counseling core curriculum”[iv] In terms of looking for a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, universities may present these programs as Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling or Clinical Mental Health Counseling with specific guidelines in terms of what is taught.

Coursework in Rehabilitation Counseling

As part of the counseling profession, rehabilitation counselors receive training in counseling ethics, theories and practices. Above that, rehabilitation counselors study topics as set forth by CORE[v] that includes but is not limited to:

  • Medical and psychosocial aspects of disability
  • Etiology, diagnosis, treatment and referral for medical disabilities
  • How to use assistive technology
  • Counseling, prevention and intervention
  • How to promote client understanding of community-based resources
  • Implications of diversity
  • Public policy
  • Advocacy
  • Assessment and diagnosis of individual needs
  • Human development
  • Vocational counseling
  • Research
  • Consultation

Licensing, Certification and Continued Education

Although licensing requirements differ by state and services provides, maintaining one’s license means completing annual continuing education credits. Students interested in a terminal degree might also consider Doctorate degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Some employers also prefer to hire Certified Rehabilitation Counselors[vi]. CRC certification is offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

Take the Next Step

If you aspire to help different populations cope with personal, social or vocational challenges, earning your Master’s degree is an important academic step. Start to review sponsored program listings such as Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Trauma and Crisis Counseling. Remember to request more information from the prospective graduate schools, they each have unique features and program descriptions.

sources: [i] |[ii] |[iii] |[iv] |[v] |[vi]

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