REHABILITATION COUNSELING MASTERS PROGRAM
ONE PROGRAM…A MULTITUDE OF OPPORTUNITIES
Rehabilitation counselors are counselors first with a special twist to their preparation. That twist originated almost 100 years ago in response to the needs of veterans returning from World War I to navigate a new world in their families and communities as a person with a disability. The field has been built on evidence-based knowledge about counseling and providing case management services to people overcoming barriers to full participation and engagement in life presented by physical and intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, and mental health problems.
Rehabilitation counselors have learned to use expertise in three critical areas in a multitude of arenas:
- medical, psychosocial and functional aspects of disabilities; and
- vocational issues, career development and the world of work.
Using this expertise, rehabilitation counselors continue to serve veterans in vocational rehabilitation and employment programs in the Veterans Administration, people with disabilities in public vocational rehabilitation agencies, people recovering from traumatic incidents or disorders in rehabilitation hospitals, clients in substance abuse treatment and mental health programs, and employee assistance programs, to name a few.
Rehabilitation counselors interview people with disabilities and their families, evaluate school and medical reports, and confer and plan with physicians, psychologists, occupational therapists, and employers to determine the capabilities and skills of the individual. Conferring with the client, they develop a rehabilitation program that often includes training to help the person develop job skills. Rehabilitation counselors also work toward increasing the client’s capacity to live independently.
The future: Rehabilitation counselors determine, coordinate, and arrange for rehabilitation and transition services for children within school systems. In addition, rehabilitation counselors provide geriatric rehabilitation services to individuals with health problems, and workers injured on the job are increasingly receiving rehabilitation services through private rehabilitation counseling companies and employers’ disability management and employee assistance programs. They may also become life-care planners assisting individuals experiencing major long-term disabilies.
– Council on Rehabilitation Education
The rehabilitation counseling program at West Virginia University forwards the land grant mission of the University by providing a strong practitioner training program focused on the unique needs of diverse communities. We are committed to preparing entry-level rehabilitation counselors to work competently and ethically within a pluralistic society. Our central organizing approach rests in understanding the unique needs of individuals, couples, families, and groups experiencing disability or other disadvantages across their lifespan in our society, at work, home and play.
A main objective of the program is to prepare counselors with the counseling and assessment knowledge and skills to assist clients with mental, physical and emotional disabilities. To accomplish this objective, the program aims to provide educational and practical experiences that allow every student to meet the following knowledge and outcome expectations outlined by the Council on Rehabilitation Education.
The objectives of our program are linked to our mission statement. They are to provide:
- Educational experiences for every student that facilitates the development of knowledge, skills and beliefs necessary to practice as a qualified rehabilitation counselor
- Learning opportunities to supports students’ abilities to implement culturally responsive and ethical rehabilitation counseling practices
- Clinical training environments focused on real-world expectations
The rehabilitation counseling program at WVU is fully accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) through the end of the 2018/2019 academic year (“www.core-rehab.org”: ). The program has a goal of admitting 20 students each year. Student outcomes are evaluated each year on a variety of metrics that are part of the overall program evaluation.
During the academic year of 2013-14, we enrolled 23 students for their first year experience. They joined the second year students for a total of 40 full time and 9 part time students. Sixteen of these students reported having a disability and 6 were members of a minority ethnic group.
During the Spring 2013 and Fall 2013, 16 students graduated. Eleven of them had received funding through the two Scholars Programs awarded to WVU by the U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration.
Of these graduates, 11 are employed as rehabilitation counselors in state vocational rehabilitation settings. These include settings in West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Alaska, Montana, Florida and North Carolina. Two are working mental health counseling settings. Another graduate joined the doctoral program in counseling psychology at WVU.
In the 2009 – 2014 period, 98 students graduated from our program and 74 took the examination for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Of these, 65 passed on the first administration for an 88% pass rate. In March 2013, we had a 100% pass rate and in March 2014, an 88% pass rate. Of the 22 graduates for 2014, 21 have or are scheduled to take the examination.
We have three tenure track faculty members, one non tenure track instructor and an adjunct instructor.
Comments from students:
“The program changed my life!” – J
“I am on a joint mission with the Army and have been able to use skills developed in the rehabilitation counseling program to help others in my unit. As it seems more than half the people deployed right now are unemployed back home, I’ve shared employment resources with them, such as O*NET and work individually with people on job-seeking strategies after completing our daily duties. I can’t wait to get back home and finish up my internship. The flexibility offered in this program has made it all possible.” SH
“I love this program! The rehab counseling program has stretched me and matured me and prepared me well for the workforce. The knowledge that I have gained has made me marketable, competitive, and confident in the field of rehab counseling. Thank you Dr. Glenn and faculty for generously imparting into us your experience and knowledge. I am graduating the program a very prepared individual. – Melonie Terry
“Loving the job, love being a Rehabilitation Counselor! Most meaningful work I’ve done. Thanks, Ginny (WVDRS)
Our program was highlighted by WVU Online, check out the video of students from the 2012-13 graduating class talk about being a WVU rehabilitation counseling student.