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What Is a Residential Counselor?

Assisted living facilities sometimes employ residential counselors to combat emotional issues common in seniors.
A residential counselor may choose to work in a mental health facility.
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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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Various live-in facilities require an on-site attendant to be available every hour of the day. In the case of group homes, boarding schools, substance recovery centers, and assisted living centers, this attendant is known as a residential counselor. He or she is responsible for the treatment and care of the residents of his or her facility.

The job of a residential counselor is considered a demanding position. It often includes 24-hour availability and full monitoring of people who require constant supervision. Depending on their qualifications, this person may be responsible for the facilitating the counseling of individuals or groups in the residence.

Depending on the institution, a residential counselor is responsible for coordinating a number of different resident activities. These can include solving social and interpersonal problems, coordinating educational and recreational events, assigning and managing living arrangements, planning programs for both groups and individuals, ordering needed supplies or provisions, and maintaining the records of the facility. General residence upkeep may also be a required duty.

Residential counselors may work with people with special needs. If so, they are likely trained, either on the job or in a classroom setting, for this work. Some people with special needs that residential counselors may work with include young adults, drug addicts, and people with disabilities.

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Potential residential counselors may be required to work both alone as well as within a team setting. They usually need to be able to operate a motor vehicle. Some job tasks may include assisting residents with daily living skills, documenting activities, arranging transportation for residents, teaching residents to perform self-help tasks, scheduling recreational and medical services, and helping residents meet their goals.

Maintaining relationships with resident family members may also be part of the job of a residential counselor. He or she may need to provide feedback, detailed notes, and progress reports to legal guardians. Completing and filing monthly reports is usually a task as well.

Most residential counselor jobs require a high school diploma or its equivalent. Many residential counselors are trained in the areas of interpersonal communication, sociology, psychology, mental health, or other human services. Some forms of certification, such as in first aid or food handling, may be required depending on the facility.

In order to become a residential counselor, a person may wish to study psychology and sociology in college. Flexibility, organizational skills, leadership qualities, and interpersonal skills can all be helpful when applying for this job. As residential counselors typically work with people who have special needs, an upbeat attitude is usually considered desirable for the position as well. Experience in volunteering with groups of a similar background to the residents of the facility an applicant is applying for, such as summer camps, can also be helpful.

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Fristepha
Post 1
I recently applied to be a residential support counselor for a mental health facility in my area. While I’m obviously very interested in the position, I have some reservations. It’s a residential treatment center for everything from depression and bipolar to more severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia. They want me to take the night shift, which would mean being there from about 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. with about 10 residents. I would provide them with their meds and deal with any issues they might have during the night.

The issue is that I would be the only one working the shift and I’m worried that should something really bad happen, I’m the only one around to deal with it. I know everyone else who works there is “on call”, but if there is a serious emergency or my life is threatened, I’m worried that there will be no one around to help me immediately. Is there anyone out there who is working a similar position and has had to face an issue like this? How did you handle it and do you have any advice for me? I think this would be a wonderful job opportunity; I just want to make sure that it’s something that I can do safely.

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