What The Heck is a Rehabilitation Counsellor Anyway?


When I tell people that I'm a Rehabilitation Counsellor, I can usually expect one of two reactions (after I've explained what it is we do): “Oh, that must be tough.”Or... “Wow.  You’re brave.”

Sometimes I might even get a pity hug, or at least a pat on the back.

There is a big misconception out there that Rehabilitation Counsellors are part of a lumbering, inefficient system of employment services. Sometimes this is the case, but often, Rehabilitation Counsellors are in a unique and exciting position to help their clients bring about real, meaningful change.

Put simply, a Rehabilitation Counsellor helps people manage the effects of disability, injury or illness. We help people prepare for, return to, and stay at work.
We can also arrange the treatment and support people need to function better at home and work. We help people figure out their goals and the steps needed to reach them.
We only really care about work because good work is good for our health. We help people find ways to stay healthy at work so they can achieve the things that matter to them.

Now, Let’s Bust Some Myths:

Rehabilitation Counsellors are more than job-finders!  We know a lot about labour market trends but our training extends far beyond placing X person in Y Job... and, unfortunately, we don't have a mythical basket of unfilled jobs at our disposal. Rehabilitation Counsellors are not glorified job hunters.

BUSTED: You think Rehabilitation Counsellors work in Drug & Alcohol?! Not on my watch!

It's our job to understand our clients and the circumstances they find themselves in. We are skilled at identifying people's talents and areas for development at work. We care about our clients' futures, truly – the whole reason we do what we do is so we can help people get their lives back by finding meaningful, sustainable work that provides them a secure income.

Um... how the hell do we help make that happen?

  • We understand local, state and national systems of insurance, compensation and welfare;
  • We get injury and disability - so be prepared to talk to us about adjustment to disability, and ways that we can work together to improve workplace, social and environmental supports that help people get their life back;
  • We know what employers want and how to talk to them;
  • We understand adjustment to disability and chronic ill-health. We help people manage these things and set real goals, no matter how scary they seem;
  • We empower people to do more of what they love. Yes, that’s a buzzword, but a Rehabilitation Counsellor goes to work each day thinking about how he or she can help someone rebuild their life.
  • We firmly believe that (good) work is GOOD for the body, mind and soul - it brings us community inclusion, financial stability and objective improvements in health when the job is a good fit.

A well-trained and experienced Rehabilitation Counsellor has an incredible range of tools at their disposal to help people take back control in their lives.

So when someone offers me a pity hug when I tell them what I do, I think I’d prefer a high–five – because my work is exciting. We help people to solve problems that feel insurmountable by putting the tools back into their own hands. We seek real change and to us, and our clients, nothing is more rewarding.

Image Credits: the above image by Pol Sifter is licensed under CC BY 2.0.