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Effectively Helping People Deal with Disabilities
While the word rehabilitation may instantly bring to mind movies like Sandra Bullock’s 28 Days, rehabilitation isn’t just about drug rehab programs. In fact, rehabilitation counseling has less to do with drugs and a great deal more to do with disabilities. Rehabilitation counselors are professionals holding Masters or Doctorate degrees and who specialize in working closely with individuals suffering from a host of different disabilities with the ultimate goal of maximizing their individual potential, as well as their overall independence. Rehabilitation counseling services is fairly comprehensive, and counselors can be found in a variety of environments or locations, ranging from:
- Vocational rehabilitation agencies
- Private rehabilitation agencies
- Public school systems
- College campuses
- Independent living facilities
- Job training centers
- Insurance companies
Where Rehabilitation Counseling Services Can Be Found
Generally, a quick Internet search can yield a multitude of results where you can turn to for additional information and recommendations. It’s important to note that “disabilities” is a decidedly broad term that includes a wide array of disorders that are not only physical, but mental or emotional as well. As such, rehabilitation counseling can include treatment centers and specialists for substance abuse, but are not limited to this realm.
Rehabilitation Counseling for Chronic Illnesses
One aspect of rehabilitation counseling is counseling for chronic illnesses like diabetes, MD, MS, AIDS or even chronic pain. While some chronic illnesses can be effectively and relatively easily managed, others can be progressive, growing increasingly distressful and uncomfortable. When there are few options to find relief, a whole host of other issues can result, ranging from depression, confusion, shame, anger or abject frustration.
Not only do these emotional side effects of chronic diseases wreck havoc on your own life, they can also spill over into the lives of those around you, ultimately leaving you feeling alienated. Friendships can deteriorate, romantic relationships can buckle under the pressure and family members can feel neglected, hurt or attacked. While these may be unintentional side effects of chronic illness, it doesn’t make them any less painful.
Common Threads of Rehabilitation Counseling
Although there are a host of different disabilities and disorders that rehabilitation counseling is used to help, there are some common threads that link them all together under the same branch of medicine. First, like all mental health counselors, rehabilitation counselors not only work independently with their suffering patients, but also hand-in-hand with friends, family members or other key individuals who are directly affected by the disability in question. This comprehensive approach helps to mitigate the sense of abandonment, loss or alienation often associated with disabilities and can also work to prevent discrimination and other prejudices.
Ultimately, all rehabilitation counselors have the same goal. That is to help their patients and those who matter to the patient to cope and heal by altering their focus in life and understanding that although things may have altered dramatically, deep down, the person is still the same – a human with unique fantasies and fears, hopes and dreams, achievements and disappointments. By working together to come to an understanding of the patient’s abilities and limitations, counselors are able to help them work through the various stages of loss and emerge on the other side with a fresh outlook on life and the determination to make it through whatever challenges the disability may throw their way.
Rehabilitation Counselors Build Bridges
In the process of leading patients toward becoming increasingly self-sufficient, rehabilitation counselors are effectively building bridges that span feelings of loss and isolation. They offer sufferers of disabilities the hope of reconnecting with the communities around them and the opportunity to once again contribute to the world at large with newfound potential and independence. If you or a loved one is suffering from a chronic illness or disability, don’t try to do it alone – seek rehabilitation counseling.