Rehabilitation counseling is a systematic process which assists persons with physical, mental, developmental, cognitive, and emotional disabilities achieve their personal, career, and independent living goals in the most integrated setting possible. The counseling process involves communication, goal setting, and beneficial growth or change through self-advocacy, psychological, vocational, social, and behavioral interventions. Rehabilitation counselors employ a range of techniques, skills, and modalities in providing services to persons with disabilities. The specific techniques and modalities used may include vocational assessment, rehabilitation planning, individual and group counseling, case management and service coordination, and job development and placement.
The MRC Program resides within the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). The program has direct linkages with occupational therapy, social work, and other related disciplines. In addition, the program benefits from its strong relationship with other departments at UTEP such as the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling Program which reside in the College of Education.
The mission of the MRC program is:
To graduate well-qualified individuals who have the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and cultural competence required for professional service as rehabilitation counselors in order to promote community inclusion, independent living, and quality of life for persons with disabilities.
The MRC program has developed a set of goals to advance our mission:
STUDENTS: Students enter the MRC program with a range of educational backgrounds, strengths, and personal experiences, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability. These differences between students can serve to promote diversity of thought in and out of the classroom. The program will support students in sharing their experiences through collaborative learning processes. In addition, the program will offer training that builds on students’ strengths yet is flexible in its delivery to meet students’ life demands.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE DISABILITIES: The graduate experience at UTEP will train students to help reduce potential sources of prejudice or stereotyping. Throughout academic and field-based education, the importance of recognizing and relating to clients as unique individuals will be stressed. The program will also seek to reduce attitudinal boundaries in students between “us” (the professionals) and “them” (the clients)
REHABILITATION SERVICE PROVIDERS: Rehabilitation services are provided by public, federal, and private agencies. Each agency makes unique contributions to the goal of promoting community inclusion, opportunities, and quality of life in persons with disabilities. In addition to the training areas stipulated by the Council on Rehabilitation Accreditation, these agencies require rehabilitation counselors to be ethical service providers, effective case managers, professional writers, and proficient in time management. The MRC program will train students in the knowledge and skills to serve in a variety of agencies to meet the needs of these service providers.
EMPLOYER ORGANIZATIONS: The MRC program recognizes that employers are also clients and partners in the vocational rehabilitation process by providing labor market opportunities for persons with disabilities. Thus, students are assisted throughout the program to value and be able to initiate long-term, reciprocally beneficial relationships with employers. The perspective of employers is obtained in a variety of ways and incorporated in all aspects of the program. Students will learn to use their skills to assist the human resource needs of employers as a compatible and necessary aspect of employment advocacy for persons with disabilities.
To meet our goals, the MRC program has proposed a set of values that students in the program should consider as they move through their graduate education and into professional service.
ADVOCACY: Graduates must recognize and contribute toward the solution of problems that reflect the structure and attitudes of society. Only when these systemic problems are addressed will life significantly improve for all people with disabilities.
PROFESSIONALISM: Graduates of the program should clearly and enthusiastically identify themselves as members of the profession of rehabilitation counseling. They should be committed to supporting and advancing the field as well as their individual careers through dedicated service, disciplines, the boundaries of one’s own professional role, cultural competence, lifelong learning and ethical practice.
PARTNERSHIP: Rehabilitation counselors should view themselves as partners in the rehabilitation process by working together with service recipients to define appropriate goals and strategies. Graduate should also recognize that the ultimate responsibility for life decisions belongs to the consumer with a disability.
Candidates for the MRC degree complete a 54 semester credit hour program that includes a 9-credit hour internship. Depending upon the student’s career interests, the internship may be served in a variety of professional settings, including the state rehabilitation agency, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, business and industrial settings, private rehabilitation firms, independent living centers, mental health centers, schools, colleges, and universities. Students who complete the MRC program are prepared to work as counselors in the public, federal, and private agencies that comprise the diverse service organizations within the rehabilitation community.