What Does Climate Change Have to do With Rehab Counselling?


If I compared the Rehabilitation Counselling profession to the Great Barrier Reef, would you think I was crazy? Stay with me here...

It's Getting Hot in Here

For some time, scientists have agreed that the Earth is getting hotter. A temperature increase of just 2° Celsius is enough to cause irreversible and profound changes to our planet - including the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef.

The Reef is already showing the effects of climate change. One example is "bleaching", where the warmer water along our coastline is causing the coral to go into heat stress and turn stark white.

Bleached Staghorn Coral along the Great Barrier Reef. [image source]
Bleached Staghorn Coral along the Great Barrier Reef. [image source]

Climate change is happening and we can already see the effects. It won't be long until it's too late to address the damage we are doing to the place we call home.

Why Rehabilitation Counselling is on Thin Ice

Ask any Rehabilitation Counsellor how well-recognised they feel and I promise you'll get a depressing answer.

"Nobody knows what I do"

"I always have to fight for my services to get approved"

"People don't understand my value"

Try asking this same person what their Unique Selling Point is. This is a great question if you enjoy making people feel uncomfortable.

Rehabilitation Counsellors are really bad at answering this question.

Why should someone refer to you when you work in a huge, confusing system of health professionals?

What would make someone say, "HEY - you need a Rehab Counsellor for this" when they could choose to refer to a Social Worker, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist or Case Manager instead? Or to not refer out at all?

polar bear on cracked ice
polar bear on cracked ice

The water is getting hotter and the ice is getting thin. "Vocational Rehabilitation" is already seen as a money pit.

Rehabilitation Counsellors will continue to be lumped in the same basket unless we stand up and say, "HEY - we are unique and we are needed. Here's why."

The alternative is that we let the water rise. We let the water get warmer. And we lose our rightful place.

We Already Know This Stuff

One of the things that Rehabilitation Counsellors are great at is helping their clients differentiate themselves in a cluttered job market.

We teach people every day how to:

Reflect on their skills

Consider why they're the best person for the job

Communicate this to the people who make the decisions

So... why don't we do this for our own profession?

I know I'm not alone here. Go to any Professional Development event for Rehabilitation Counsellors and you'll feel it in the room. Everyone in there is at least a little bit disgruntled about the fact that Rehabilitation Counsellors are so poorly recognised in their own industry.

But then everybody leaves and nothing changes.

Why Nobody's Listening Anyway

man yelling - I wonder if he's talking about his unique selling point
man yelling - I wonder if he's talking about his unique selling point

Even when we do speak up about our value, it often falls on deaf ears.

We come from a philosophy of community inclusion and helping people reclaim their quality of life. We help people find ways to do what matters to them and gain a sense of meaning and purpose through their work.

But not everyone cares as much as we do about that. What if we spoke in a way that helped people see that working with a Rehabilitation Counsellor can also:

help insurers SAVE MONEY on their claims

help employees INCREASE their output and productivity

help people find financial security, a long term career, and REDUCE THE BURDEN on our welfare systems

help people stay healthy at work and REDUCE THE RISK of future injuries

Why don't we start talking in terms of each stakeholders' KPI's?

That's the beautiful thing about this profession. The work we do is client-centered but everybody can win when we're on board to mediate the process and find out what matters to each party involved.

What is Rehabilitation Counselling's Unique Selling Point?

You don't need to wait.

You don't need approval.

Just start talking about why you're different and what makes you valuable.

Start talking about how you help people get their lives back.

People are desperate to hear what makes us unique.

What is Rehabilitation Counselling's Unique Selling Point?

... And what's yours?

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 5.16.00 PM
Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 5.16.00 PM

This post was inspired by https://baotcot.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/promoting-the-power-of-occupation/

Image Credit: the images in this post by Patrik Theander,Matt Kieffer and Smudge 9000 are licensed under CC by 2.0