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M.S. in clinical Rehabilitation 
and mental health counseling

The online Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health program will offer multiple opportunities for our students and graduates in the fields of both rehabilitation counseling and mental health counselingThe scope of practice for graduates of this degree will be expansive, covering a wide spectrum of work with people who have disabilities, including those with mental health diagnoses. We believe it will have a synergistic effect on what have traditionally been seen as relatively separate. First the mental health field will be infused with practitioners who understand the issues of disability and addressing limitations in life, and advocates who work toward leveling the economic playing field for people. Rehabilitation agencies and people with disabilities will enjoy a new level of expertise in providing counseling to address mental health challenges.

Rehabilitation Counseling

Rehabilitation counselors are counselors first with a special focus to their preparation. The need for this type of counseling 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:

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 disabilities. - Council on Rehabilitation Education

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

As defined by the American Mental Health Counselors Association, "C linical mental health counselors are highly-skilled professionals who provide flexible, consumer-oriented therapy. They combine traditional psychotherapy with a practical, problem-solving approach that creates a dynamic and efficient path for change and problem resolution".

Among mental health provider groups, Clinical Mental Health Counseling is unique in its insistence on a balance between prevention and psychoeducational, developmental approaches on the one hand and its insistence on clinical competencies for the treatment of psychopathology on the other hand

Mental health counselors can be found everywhere from state-run agencies to private practices to psychiatric hospitals, as their educational background lends them considerable flexibility within the scope of behavioral care.


Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental health Counseling - Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

The CRMHC program was accredited as a dual specialty program in clinical rehabilitation counseling and clinical mental health counseling by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in July 2017. One of only 23 such programs in the country, the WVU program was awarded full accreditation until 2024.

Those who graduated between December 2016 and July 2017 and have met the criteria for graduating from the CACREP program in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program are grandfathered into the designation. These means they can report having graduated from a CACREP program with a specialization in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling and one in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. These distinctions are important in application for certifications, licensure, and for some employment sites.

In the spring of 2013, the board members of CORE and CACREP directed their respective leaders in spring 2013 to work toward developing a relationship between the two organizations that would protect and benefit students in rehabilitation counseling programs who were legitimately preparing counselors to work as independent mental health counseling practitioners. In 2015, they announced a merger of the two organizations with CACREP assuming the accreditation responsibilities of programs that have been CORE-accredited effective July 1, 2017. 

This is one in a long line of firsts for the program. In August of 1955, one of seven federal grants available for establishing a graduate rehabilitation counselor education program under PL 565 was awarded to WVU. This was in response to the Vocational Rehabilitation Amendments (federal legislation) that established funding sources for college and university training of rehabilitation professionals. The rehabilitation counselor education program started in 1955 with the first students enrolled in January 1956 and the first graduating class in 1957.

In 1974, it was one of first programs accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). Students admitted Fall 1975 were the first who could report having graduated under the status of CORE accreditation.