Psychiatric Rehabilitation Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

Psychiatric rehabilitation is generally an extensive field of study focused on preparing counselors to work with physically and emotionally disabled individuals. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Psychiatric rehabilitation involves working with people who have mental and emotional disorders. These counselors may work in treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics or community health facilities. Graduate study and a license is required.

Essential Information

Counselors in this field typically require a master's degree in psychiatric rehabilitation or behavioral science. Upon completion of graduate school, counselors must complete anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of clinical study, depending on the state, before sitting for a licensure exam. Topics of study include developmental and abnormal psychology, counseling techniques, and professional ethics, among others.

Career Psychiatric Rehabilitation Counselors
Required Education Master's degree in psychiatric rehabilitation
Other Requirements Licensure through the state; 2,000 to 4,000 hours of post-graduate clinical work
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% (for rehabilitation counselors)
Average Salary (2015)* $38,040 (for rehabilitation counselors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Psychiatric rehabilitation counselors work with people who are battling mental and emotional disorders. Counselors may help individuals facing marriage troubles, depression, grief, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health conditions. Counselors encourage patients to talk about their feelings, evaluate their patients' physical and mental conditions, and develop healing goals and strategies. As they work with their patients over time, they evaluate the effectiveness of their therapy and develop new strategies and goals as patients progress or decline.

Most psychiatric rehabilitation counselors work in special treatment facilities, hospitals, private clinics, and community health facilities. Counselors work closely with physicians, social workers, psychiatric nurses, other metal health counselors, and psychologists.

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Psychiatric rehabilitation counselors must hold a master's degree. Aspiring counselors can begin their education by earning a bachelor's degree in marriage and family therapy, clinical mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, rehabilitation counseling, or a related field. After completing a bachelor's degree program, graduates should continue on and earn a Master of Arts in Behavioral Science, a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling, or any number of related degrees.

Students in one of these graduate-level counseling programs can expect to take classes in the following subject areas:

  • Developmental psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Personality theory
  • Introductory counseling and psychotherapy
  • Counseling techniques
  • Professional Ethics

Licensing requirements

Typically, psychiatric rehabilitation counselors will need to be certified prior to entering the workforce and working with patients. While requirements for counselors vary by state, general requirements include earning a master's degree, completing two years of post-graduate supervised clinical experience, passing an exam, and taking continuing education courses. Licensing exams are offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) and other organizations.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, reported in May 2015 that the average annual salary earned by rehabilitation counselors was $38,040. Those working for mental health facilities earned a mean annual salary of $32,170 in 2015. The employment of all rehabilitation counselors is expected to grow an estimated 9% between 2014 and 2024, per the BLS, which is faster than the national average.

In order to pursue a career in psychiatric rehabilitation it is usually necessary to complete a master's degree in psychiatric rehabilitation or behavioral science. Psychiatric rehabilitation counselors must also be licensed by their state and complete two years of supervised clinical experience. Continuing education courses are required to maintain the license.

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