Rehabilitation Counseling Program Gets $1.5 Million

Dr. Randall M. Parker, a special education professor at The University of Texas at Austin, has received two grants totaling $1.5 million that will support graduate students in the College of Education's rehabilitation counseling program.

The grants were awarded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Education and are in effect from September 2009 through 2014. They complement a $500,000 grant, also from the U.S. Department of Education, that's now in its second year. The $500,000 grant is helping master's degree rehabilitation counseling specialists who will work with blind individuals.

The University of Texas at Austin's master's degree program in rehabilitation counseling requires 48 hours of course work over four semesters and the doctoral program requires 75 hours. The graduate programs prepare students to counsel youth and adults who have disabilities and who are experiencing difficulties related to personal, social and vocational adjustment. The range of individual needs and conditions with which the counselors assist include neurological, intellectual, behavioral, emotional, orthopedic, sensory and learning disabilities.

"Career prospects for students who are hoping to become rehabilitation counselors are extremely good," says Parker, the Melissa Elizabeth Stuart Centennial Professor of Education and director of the Rehabilitation Counselor Education Program in the College of Education's Department of Special Education. "Whether a patient has a spinal injury or has a chronic illness, the counselor assesses information from the patient's family, medical and school records and employers' reports to create a rehabilitation program that will help the person reach his full potential and build his capacity to live independently. Right now, there are many more clients out there than there are counselors. Job openings are exceeding the number of qualified professionals."

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that jobs for rehabilitation counselors are expected to grow by around 23 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The number of people who will need rehabilitation counseling is expected to expand as advances in medical technology allow more people to survive injury or illness and live independently again. In addition, legislation requiring equal employment rights for people with disabilities is increasing demand for counselors, who not only help these individuals make a transition to the workforce but also help companies comply with the law.

Read more about The University of Texas at Austin's Rehabilitation Counselor Education Program.