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M.S. in clinical Rehabilitation 
and mental health counseling

The online Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health program offers multiple opportunities for our students and graduates in the fields of both  clinical rehabilitation counseling  and  clinical mental health counseling .  The 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 cognitive disorders, physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, and mental health diagnoses.  We are providing a foundation for an emerging capacity to address multidimensional issues in healthcare. Graduates can provide a comprehensive counseling approach for people in recovery from traumatic injuries, neurological events or disorders, mental health disorders, and chronic health conditions, to include addictions. They are also prepared to provide assistance to those with developmental disabilities and ageing related health conditions.

Rehabilitation Counseling

Rehabilitation counselors are counselors first with a special focus to their preparation, developing the knowledge and skills to support individuals with disabilities on their path of rehabilitation and recovery to independence. 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 limitations and access barriers. It has expanded to address the needs of the military, veteran, and civilian population across the lifespan who are living with disabilities, disorders, and/or diseases and want to overcome barriers and challenges to full participation and engagement in life.

The field has been built on evidence-based knowledge on integration of effective counseling interventions with service- enriched plans that help people have the independence, income, and resources to participate in society. They use this expertise in critical areas of healthcare and human services:

Using this expertise, rehabilitation counselors continue to serve veterans in vocational rehabilitation and employment programs in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), people with disabilities in both private and public vocational rehabilitation programs, youth with disabilities navigating the transition from school to higher education or work; those recovering from traumatic incidents or chronic health problems in rehabilitation and medical centers, those with substance abuse disorders engaged in treatment and recovery; as well as mental health programs, and student/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 an individualized plan that often includes training or education that leads to skills necessary to be successful in the workforce. Rehabilitation counselors also work toward increasing an individual’s capacity to live independently, addressing physical, social, and societal access issues.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

"Clinical 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" - American Mental Health Counselors Association

Counselors were created to meet the need of vocational guidance in response to the Industrial Revolution and social reform movements. They grew through the decades into specializations,  the core becoming the distinct and valid profession of mental health counseling with national standards for training and practice.  They are among the most recent to emerge in the human service provider professions.

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. They operate from a systems perspective, recognizing that individuals are embedded within and influenced by their family, societal, historical, cultural, and socioeconomic context in which they live.

Mental health counselors have defined their work as,

Mental health counselors may work in family services, outpatient and inpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment centers, hospitals, government, schools and in private practice. They can choose to work with a specific population, such as with teenagers, the incarcerated, families, or the elderly. A parallel career path is marriage and family therapy. In today's managed care environment, clinical mental health counselors are uniquely qualified to meet the challenges of providing high quality care in a cost-effective manner.

On the job, they may work with individuals, groups, families and communities to improve mental health conditions as well as relationships. They develop therapeutic process that encourage clients to discuss emotions and experiences, as well as examine issues including substance abuse, aging, bullying, anger management, careers, depression, relationships, LGBTQ issues, self-image, stress and suicide. In this, they are helping people define goals, plan action, and gain insight.


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 24 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.

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.