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 two master’s degree programs, an on-campus program and an online program, have a goal of admitting 20 students in each graduate cohort. Both programs admit students in the fall. Student outcomes are evaluated each year on a variety of metrics that are part of the overall program evaluation.
Currently, the graduate programs have a total of 60 students. The programs have three full-time faculty and one part-time adjunct faculty who teach the core accredited curriculum. The instructor to student ratio is 1:7. The current grade point average of the students in the program is 3.32.
For the 2010-2011 academic year, 21 students graduated from the program. 100 percent of students passed their clinical coursework. During the same academic year, 83 percent of WVU’s graduates passed the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam www.crccertification.com
27 percent of the students are from underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities. The program has two training grants funded by the United States Rehabilitation Services Administration that generate a total of $335,583 each year in student support through tuition and scholarships.