Graduates are specialized professionals who assist persons with physical, mental, developmental, cognitive, addictions-based and other disabilities, as well as other forms of disadvantagement. They help these individuals deal with personal, interpersonal, and societal problems; plan careers; and find and maintain appropriate employment. The counseling process involves communication, goal setting, and facilitating personal growth or beneficial change through advocacy, psychological, vocational, social, and behavioral interventions. The counselors work with individuals, organizations, and advocacy groups that address environmental and social barriers that create obstacles for persons with disabilities. In effect, they build bridges between persons with disabilities, their families, communities, and work places. They also collaborate with physicians, psychologists, therapists, and others in assisting rehabilitants in pursuing their vocational and independent-living goals. Because employment is a major problem for persons with disabilities, rehabilitation counselors work closely with employers and representatives of the business community to identify job opportunities and to make work environments more accommodating.
Major employers of rehabilitation counselors in South Carolina include The South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, and the South Carolina Commission for the Blind as well as a variety of addictions treatment agencies. Rehabilitation counselors also serve as consultants to insurance companies, industry, and educational institutions. Recently, rehabilitation counselors have begun to coordinate and arrange for rehabilitation and transition services for children with disabilities who are in school. Also, geriatric services are now being provided to older persons who are experiencing changing lifestyles and health problems. Increasingly, industrially disabled workers are receiving rehabilitation counseling services through private rehabilitation companies and employers’ in-house disability management and employee assistance programs. Persons who have severe disabilities that limit opportunities for full-time competitive employment may also be assisted through independent-living service programs and supported employment arrangements developed and provided by rehabilitation counselors.
- Upon completion of the program, students will be able to discuss and apply topics relating to career counseling and assessment in rehabilitation settings.
- Students will be able to demonstrate and apply an understanding of the process of job search, job placement, and ensuring job retention for persons with disabilities.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of vocational consultation and other services needed by employers of individuals with disabilities.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of the case management process as it relates to human service provision and rehabilitation counseling.
- Students will demonstrate effective individual counseling and communication skills appropriate for beginning counselors at the training level.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding and skills in group and family counseling appropriate for beginning counselors at the training level.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding and develop basic competencies in mental health counseling.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of the psychosocial and cultural issues involved in counseling.
- Students will demonstrate and apply knowledge of the medical, functional, and environmental aspects of disabilities.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of the foundations, ethical guidelines, and professional issues of the rehabilitation counseling field.
- Student will demonstrate an understanding of rehabilitation services and resources.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of the disability and healthcare system.
The rehabilitation counseling program is based in the School of Medicine’s Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science. The program is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education. Program graduates are eligible to take the national certification exam administered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification and, with additional course work, state professional counselor licensure exams.
Full scholarships may be available to qualifying students through the Rehabilitation Services Administration. These scholarships prepare rehabilitation counselors to assume employment in the State/Federal rehabilitation system serving in area of identified need. These scholarships require a payback of time spent in employment in the State/Federal vocational rehabilitation system or identified vendors. Please be aware that scholarship funds are contingent on funding cycles; students should make plans for financial aid.
Applicants to the program must have earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. Applicants must submit GRE scores or MAT scores, a minimum of two references, and a statement of intent. The letter should address the reason for pursuing a career in rehabilitation counseling, relevant experience, and plans for completing the program requirements, if accepted. Relevant experience refers to both volunteer and paid work experience involving the provision of services to persons with disabilities or other forms of disadvantage. Submitted materials, academic background and performance, work and volunteer experience, and personal interview findings are all considered in the admissions process.
Degree Requirements (48 Hours)
Students complete a minimum of 48 credit hours of required coursework that follows the course requirements outlined by the Council on Rehabilitation Counselor Education (CORE). Key content areas of study include professional orientation, medical and psychosocial aspects of disability, rehabilitation assessment, occupational and career assessment, job placement, and individual and group counseling. As part of the 48-credit hours, students complete a 150 hour practicum and a 600 hour internship in approved community agencies. Students are also required to receive a passing grade on the comprehensive examination in the semester in which they intend to graduate.
Students may individualize their professional preparation by electing to participate in a wide range of rehabilitation counseling activities that occur in the Rehabilitation Counseling and Assessment Center or working with faculty members on rehabilitation research projects.
Graduates of the program are eligible to take the national exam that leads to the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credential. With additional coursework offered by the program, students are eligible to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) that leads to counselor licensure.
The 48 credit-hour curriculum includes thirteen (13) required courses (including practicum and internship) and two (2) electives.