Rehabilitation Counseling: Definition & Techniques

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  • 0:07 Definitions
  • 1:29 Roles
  • 4:15 Certification & More
  • 5:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

This lesson is a walk through of the issues, ideas, and programs involved with rehabilitation counseling. Included is a step by step process of what it can look like and who is involved.


The human body and mind are amazing machines. Humans can build some pretty amazing machines, but there aren't any that can take in such a wide range of fuel, self-repair, and help others like we can. Yes, some machines can do some of these things, but no machine built, that I am aware of, can do all of these things.

The human body isn't perfect, but it's pretty good. And in those times when it breaks down or needs help, we have people who specialize in that. Rehabilitation is defined as a treatment process designed to return a person to a normal level of functioning following a disease, injury, or condition.

Rehabilitation can involve learning how to use your legs or pinky following an accident, or it can mean retraining your brain following a stroke or traumatic brain injury. We will focus a bit more on the mental health aspect of rehabilitation. However, if something is wrong with the brain, it typically means something is going to be off with the body.

A rehabilitation counselor is an individual trained and licensed to conduct rehabilitation. The human body and brain, for all of its wonders and abilities, needs people who know how to fix it. You wouldn't want to bring your body, which is a super-advanced piece of machinery, to any ol' mechanic. You want a mechanic who is licensed and trained to work on that piece of machinery.


The advanced machinery between your ears can break down in any number of ways, from external reasons, like brain trauma, to inner problems, like a stroke. This means that there is almost an endless number of ways that a person may need rehabilitation. To this end, the roles of the rehabilitation counselor stretch to cover many areas. We will follow the rehabilitation process from beginning to end.

First off is training, you can't have a good counselor if they don't know what they are doing. This involves both theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills learned while on the job. These practical skills are usually learned under supervised and experienced rehabilitation counselors. This typically means earning a master's level degree as well as certification.

So now we have a trained counselor. Next comes the actual person needing rehabilitation, in which they are given an evaluation to determine their specific needs and the best way to tackle them. This often is a time when many different assessment techniques are brought in. Let's say a mechanic has a stroke and now has difficulty using his right side and speaking.

Following the evaluation is planning to ensure that the time frame works with the human body and mind's ability to heal itself. In addition, planning requires an agreement on payment because nothing is free in this world. At this point the client enters personal counseling where they work with a counselor to meet their needs and to get themselves back to some level of normal.

Each specific area of our mechanic will be focused on, likely one at a time at first and then more holistically. So our mechanic will learn to use his arms, then his legs, and then he'll learn to get up and go get something.

Clients may also have a case manager who watches over them and their progress. A case manager also coordinates the next step in rehabilitation. The case manager may also be part of an individual client's follow along, where the case manager will monitor the client as they see several personal counselors and rehabilitators to ensure everything is being done.

Support services may be used if there are issues, such as housing, transportation, or payment. If someone's arms or legs don't work, then it becomes difficult to get where they're going. Part of the support services, after the client has made significant strides in rehabilitation, is job placement. Part of getting back to what the client was like before involves getting a job and supporting themselves. Plus, people tend to be less depressed and make bigger strides when they feel they have something in their life they can control.

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