What is a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant?

Kathryn Patricelli

A vocational rehabilitation consultant is someone who assists others in their work life. The types of people that vocational rehab consultants help vary greatly from workers who were injured on the job to those with physical or mental disabilities to those who were laid off or need to transition to a different career or job field. Some vocational rehabilitation consultants are also certified as qualified rehabilitation consultants (QRCs).

A vocational rehabilitation consultant helps people with disabilities to find and maintain jobs.
A vocational rehabilitation consultant helps people with disabilities to find and maintain jobs.

The first step with a new client usually involves an initial assessment in order to understand the client's situation and to begin formulating a plan. The next step often involves meeting others to gain a better understanding of the client's situation. These meetings may, for example, be with the client's health care providers, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, or psychologists. Once the vocational rehabilitation consultant develops a good understanding of the client's situation, a rehabilitation plan is created and the consultant helps the client achieve the goals of that plan.

Vocational rehabilitation consultants often meet with clients to understand their expectations.
Vocational rehabilitation consultants often meet with clients to understand their expectations.

Vocational rehabilitation consultants usually have a four-year college degree in rehabilitation services or a related field. Coursework will often cover a variety of subjects including social work, psychology, and counseling. Since a good understanding of medical reports is also needed, students often also take medical courses as well. In addition to their schooling, these consultants usually have to complete one or more internships in order to receive their license. Even after they are licensed, consultants may also be required to complete continuing education courses in order to maintain their certification.

Individuals who were injured while working may require vocational rehabilitation.
Individuals who were injured while working may require vocational rehabilitation.

Since vocational rehabilitation consultants often deal with sensitive and important issues with their clients, strong interpersonal skills are essential. Clients often struggle with the new realities they are facing and often have trouble finding the motivation to finding new work or going back to an old job. Additionally, clients may be seeing a vocational rehabilitation consultant by requirement of their insurance benefits which may be an additional source of resistance to working with the consultant.

Coursework for an aspiring vocational rehabilitation consultant often will include counseling.
Coursework for an aspiring vocational rehabilitation consultant often will include counseling.

Due to the nature of the work, a vocational rehabilitation consultant's work location can vary greatly. He or she may fulfill her job duties in the office, at the client's workplace, at a health care provider's office or at a client's home. They typically work set schedules, but may work days, evenings or weekends to meet the needs of their clients.

Vocational physical therapists may work with a client's physical therapists.
Vocational physical therapists may work with a client's physical therapists.
Vocational rehabilitation consultants may counsel patients struggling with other issues, such as alcoholism.
Vocational rehabilitation consultants may counsel patients struggling with other issues, such as alcoholism.
Some rehabilitation consultants might work with someone who is injured as well as their spouse so the couple can take on the challenge as a team.
Some rehabilitation consultants might work with someone who is injured as well as their spouse so the couple can take on the challenge as a team.
Vocational rehab consultants may help people dealing with a prescription drug addiction due to an injury.
Vocational rehab consultants may help people dealing with a prescription drug addiction due to an injury.

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