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A licensed rehabilitation counselor is a mental health professional who specializes in providing assistance and counseling to people with disabilities. Many people in this field have advanced degrees in psychology or therapy, and must often pass rigorous licensing requirements in order to practice legally. There are many different jobs that a licensed rehabilitation counselor may be eligible for, depending on his or her experience level and areas of particular expertise.
In most cases, the work of a licensed rehabilitation counselor involves client assessment and the development of plans and coping strategies. People with physical, mental, or psychological disabilities are often capable of living independent and productive lives. In many jobs, a licensed rehabilitation counselor will work to first understand the client, his or her disability and current lifestyle, and his or her dreams and hopes for the future. The counselor can then help devise strategies that will help a disabled patient find avenues of education, vocational training, and rehabilitation that lead toward the patient's goals.
Some rehabilitation counselors work with school systems to help address the needs of students with disabilities. This work may be done at any level of schooling, from kindergarten through university. A licensed rehabilitation counselor who works with a school may try to create programs that allow disabled students the same access to education that non-disabled students have; such as by hiring readers or using books-on-tape to ensure that sight impaired students can read required texts. School counselors may also be called upon to do an initial analysis of students that are struggling with school work, to try and discover if a learning disability may be causing the trouble.
Many countries and regions have programs that help disabled citizens train for and find work. This enables them to make a living, and often comes hand in hand with legislation preventing discrimination based on a disability. Many rehabilitation counselors are employed by public sector organizations that help disabled citizens determine their strengths, weaknesses, and career goals and help them find a suitable vocation.
A licensed rehabilitation counselor may also choose to focus his or her career on assisting patients with psychological disabilities, such as alcohol or drug addiction. These professionals may work in rehabilitation clinics or private facilities, providing counseling to patients who are struggling with a debilitating addiction. A licensed rehabilitation counselor may also be called on to provide training or vocational advice for recovering addicts who are seeking to become counselors themselves.