What is clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling?

Clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling is a profession that holistically applies counseling skills to assist individuals with psychiatric, developmental, cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities to achieve their maximum level of independence, integration, and participation in the community and the world of work in accordance with each individual's personal goals, career aspirations, and perception of quality of life.

A rehabilitation counselor is a highly trained professional who uses client centered approaches to prepare individuals with disabilities in attaining optimal function, including psychological, social, and vocational function in the context of their personal goals, abilities, and perception of quality of life. Rehabilitation counseling will involve eliminating attitudinal and environmental barriers through use of counseling technology, advocacy, and support.

Click here for a video describing rehabilitation counseling

What kinds of clients might a rehabilitation counselor serve?

Certified rehabilitation counselors (CRCs) are employed in many different types of rehabilitation service agencies, transition programs, and advocacy agencies. Rehabilitation counselors are trained to work with individuals who have a disability which may include the following: developmental disability, psychiatric disability, physical disability, substance abuse and/or dependence.

Although students in the Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program at UNC receive training which would enable them to work with individuals in all disability groups, the program offers two areas of specialization: developmental disability and psychiatric disability.

Where do rehabilitation counselors work?

Rehabilitation counselors work in a number of settings including:

  • Private practice, as licensed professional counselors (LPC)
  • Mental health facilities, e.g. community mental health organizations
  • Private rehabilitation agencies, e.g. workers compensation or insurance rehabilitation
  • Public rehabilitation agencies, e.g. state vocational rehabilitation or community rehabilitation providers
  • Substance treatment facilities, e.g. residential and outpatient treatment programs
  • Correctional facilities, e.g. pre-release re-entry programs or jail diversion
  • Schools, e.g. transition services for youth
  • State and federal offices, e.g. state services for the blind or deaf, or federal disability advocates
  • Hospitals, e.g. physical rehabilitation or psychiatric outpatient programs

Examples of employment of recent graduates include:

  • VA Hospital
  • Supported employment in a comprehensive autism treatment facility
  • Traumatic Brain Injury program
  • Substance abuse treatment facility
  • Public community mental health facility
  • Public rehabilitation agency
  • State vocational rehabilitation program

What special training do rehabilitation counselors receive?

In addition to receiving training in counseling theories and practice, rehabilitation counselors receive additional training, which enables them to consider the medical, psychosocial, spiritual, family, and environmental impact of disability on the individual's ability to function in the environment of their choice. Special courses in medical and psychosocial aspects of disability, employment, job accommodation, and advanced practices for developmental and psychiatric disabilities prepare rehabilitation counselors to evaluate and identify individual client needs, develop services, and apply interventions that include adapting the environment and providing needed supports which assist individuals to achieve their optimal functional capacity.

Students in the Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program at UNC receive additional training in developmental or psychiatric disability, depending on the area of specialization chosen. The program at UNC was formerly known as the Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychology, but as of June 2015, the program is now titled Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling. 

CACREP and CORE Accreditation

UNC's master's degree program in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling is fully accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). Additionally, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), has granted accreditation to the following program in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling (M.S. degree).

For more information on CORE accreditation, please visit http://www.core-rehab.org or contact the council directly below:

Council on Rehabilitation Education
300 N. Martingale Road, Suite 460
Schaumburg, IL, 60173

Phone: (847) 944-1345

Fax: (847) 944-1324

Email: lane@iit.edu