How to become a Rehabilitation Counsellor

Rehabilitation counsellors assist people with disability or medical conditions or who are experiencing social disadvantage to attain individual rehabilitation goals, including return to paid employment. They assist people with physical or psychological disabilities, refugees, ex-offenders, disadvantaged youth and those experiencing long-term unemployment.

Personal requirements of a Rehabilitation Counsellor

  • Good communication skills
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • A supportive and tactful approach to people’s problems
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team

Education & Training for a Rehabilitation Counsellor

To become a rehabilitation counsellor you usually have to complete a degree in health science or an allied health field at university, followed by a postgraduate qualification in rehabilitation counselling. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry or physics is normally required. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of a relevant bachelor degree. A number of universities in Australia offer relevant degrees. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Rehabilitation Counsellor

Rehabilitation counsellors may perform the following tasks:

  • counsel clients adjusting to disability
  • undertake comprehensive assessment of the client’s vocational, social, medical, educational, personal and psychological needs in order to develop an individual rehabilitation plan
  • plan, develop, implement and monitor individual client rehabilitation programs, ensuring appropriate services are provided within these programs
  • refer clients for medical examinations and psychological or psychiatric evaluations
  • use a variety of assessment tools, tests and strategies to assess a client’s particular interests, abilities, skills, motivation, attitude, values and knowledge in order to establish life or vocational goals
  • provide career development services to clients
  • analyse and use labour market information when making decisions about a client’s vocational choices
  • arrange formal or on-the-job training for clients as part of their rehabilitation goals
  • check a client’s progress in training or employment phases of the rehabilitation program
  • evaluate the effectiveness of redeployment and recommend further action
  • manage the placement of clients into suitable paid employment or back into the community after coordinating the client’s required training
  • negotiate and manage a gradual return or introduction to a job to ensure a smooth transition
  • talk to insurance companies, medical practitioners, community organisations and other professionals to ensure all parties are consulted regarding the client’s individual rehabilitation program
  • provide an information and advisory service to organisations that assist people with disability or social disadvantage.

Working conditions for a Rehabilitation Counsellor

Rehabilitation counsellors work as case managers and may be part of a team comprising medical, therapy and related rehabilitation personnel.

Employment Opportunities for a Rehabilitation Counsellor

Rehabilitation counsellors are employed by agencies accredited under various compensation and labour market schemes. They may also work in private practice and in the in-house services of large companies. Demand for rehabilitation counsellors is influenced by government legislation regarding eligibility for disability benefits and employment services.

Additional Information
Graduates may be eligible for membership of the Australian Society of Rehabilitation Counsellors (ASORC) and the Rehabilitation Counselling Association of Australasia (RCAA). Membership may also be available for students. Additional training is also available on the job and through short in-service courses and professional development sessions conducted by ASORC.
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