The Role of Rehabilitation Counsellors

The Rehabilitation Counselling Profession

The profession of Rehabilitation Counselling is grounded in human rights, the value of work, and the importance of community integration for people living with disability and social disadvantage. 

They support people:

  • living with acute and chronic pain
  • with disability
  • with a health condition that impacts work/study
  • who have experienced an injury and/or trauma
  • in the Australian Defence Force or a Veteran
  • living with social disadvantage

Rehabilitation Counsellors are tertiary qualified allied health professionals who combine therapeutic approaches of counselling and use work as rehabilitation. We are specialised counsellors who have a deep understanding of the impact of disability, health conditions and disadvantage on people's lives, and the importance that work and education play in achieving a sense of inclusion, independence, optimism and self-esteem.

In order to practice as a Rehabilitation Counsellor in Australia, tertiary qualification is a mandatory requirement. Several Australian Universities offer degrees, postgraduate and masters courses in Rehabilitation Counselling. Course subjects include counselling skills, motivational interviewing, rehabilitation services e.g., mental health, psychological and social dimensions of disability and chronic illness, human services, law and social policy, injury prevention and management and working with diverse populations and first peoples' communities.

What Rehabilitation Counsellors do

Rehabilitation Counsellors work within a counselling and case management framework, across biological, psychological and social domains. This is known as the biopsychosocial framework.

Using highly specialised knowledge and skills in motivational interviewing, vocational assessment, vocational counselling, vocational training, job placement, case management, injury prevention and management, service coordination and independent living planning, a Rehabilitation Counsellor can provide services that are often not in the repertoire of other allied health professions.

Importantly and uniquely, our core practice works within systems and/or schemes and not only provides therapeutic interventions but also assists clients navigate those systems to achieve positive health outcomes. This places us in a unique position within the allied health industry whereby we combine social aspects with therapeutic counselling interventions.

What sort of jobs do Rehabilitation Counsellors do?

Many Rehabilitation Counsellors work with State and Federal funded vocational rehabilitation providers to assist people with a disability, health condition or disadvantage. These services might be funded under such programs as Disability Employment Services and Jobs Services Australia.

There is also a large number of Rehabilitation Counsellors employed with private workplace rehabilitation providers providing services to people who have been injured in a workplace or motor vehicle accident or situation for which they are able to claim compensation.

Other Rehabilitation Counsellors may work in areas such as Employment Services Assessments (ESA), injury prevention and management, disability advice, non-vocational disability services, advocacy and public policy.

How do I become a Rehabilitation Counsellor?

If you are interested in becoming a Rehabilitation Counsellor, please see our Education or Careers page to find out more about this meaningful Allied Health career.