There’s Great Careers in Rehabilitation Counseling
If you’re an employment professional seeking new opportunities, one of the fastest growing and most rewarding fields is in rehabilitation counseling. Even more intriguing, rehab counseling is one area where employment professionals can get certified and find fulfilling work almost immediately.
Recently, the Masters program in Rehabilitation Counseling at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts-Boston (SGISD) was ranked #1 in New England by U.S. News and World Report. Its success speaks volumes about the importance of Rehabilitation Counseling and the long-term successes to be found there.
“This has been an exciting time [at the SGISD] because we’ve been examining our program and thinking deeply about the issues that will promote the inclusion and well-being of people with disabilities,” says Dr. Dimity Peter, CRC, Assistant Professor, School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, University of Massachusetts-Boston.
She explains that in the two years since the Master’s program has been available at the SGISD, the staff has been hard at work on curriculum development, refining existing coursework, and striving to incorporate their mission into the program. “The program is dynamic, changing, and really incorporating best practices,” Dr. Peter explains. “We have two accreditation processes, and even offer scholarships to make our student body as diverse as we can.”
The role of SGISD is to promote the inclusion of populations that are typically excluded from participating in community employment and social interaction. “We want to graduate students who are on the cutting edge of promoting community inclusion of people with disabilities,” Dr. Peter adds. “Particularly in employment, but you can’t do that without seeing the whole person and the context and working within that.
“We engage in a very comprehensive evaluation of the program,” Dr. Peter continues, “so it is not just a snapshot in time—we are continually thinking of how we respond to the needs of people with disabilities, to the employment market, to the context in which people with disabilities live and work, all of which are constantly changing.”
This is also evident in the flexibility of the Masters program. “We’re targeting people who are already working,” Dr. Peter states. “With our program you can take full time or part time classes, online or face-to-face, or a combination, and all of the classes are in the evenings after work hours.” By doing this, the School is trying to make it accessible to all people in a variety of life situations. For students taking just the online program, they have to take a one-week residential program in the summer. “This is to foster a community and shared purpose as well as doing foundation work for the counseling classes that are easier to teach face-to-face,” Dr. Peter explains. “With this flexible schedule, we’ve removed a lot of the barriers in regard to participating in the classes.”
Dr. Peter also observes that Rehabilitation Counseling is the type of work that not only makes a difference in the lives of the people you support, but it’s meaningful for the practitioner as well. “Rehabilitation counseling is the sort of job where you can’t wait to get there every day,” she explains. “This is a job where you make a difference. You work in partnership with people with disabilities. When someone who has been excluded from the workforce finds a job, you change that person’s life. Not just their employment life, but their social life, their self-perception, and you’ve even changed their family. It moves them away from poverty.
“Practically, you won’t get rich,” Dr. Peter says, “but you’ll have a great career, and work toward leadership roles. There’s an ongoing need for Rehabilitation Counselors, and it’s growing. You’ll love your work.”
With a masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, employment professionals can get certified and find fulfilling work that will sustain them for a lifetime. The DirectCourse/College of Employment Services courses offer great background for anyone interested in helping people with disabilities find work. Check out Principles of Career Development for a useful overview.