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 built on knowledge about counseling and providing case management services to people overcoming disadvantages, physical disabilities, substance use disorders and mental illnesses to meet these needs.
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.
In 2012-13 academic year, the graduate program had a total of 54 students. Forty-seven were full time and 7 part time, all were in good academic standing. 22 percent of the students are from underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities.
The program has four full-time faculty members who teach the CORE accredited curriculum. The instructor to student ratio was 1:13.
During the 2012-2013 academic year, 19 students graduated from the program. Nine graduates were RSA Scholars. 100% of the students passed the comprehensive examination process which may have included passing the CRCC examination. 84% employed in rehabilitation counseling and related positions.
A recent comment from one of our students:
“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
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.