Transcript: Best things about being a Rehabilitation Counsellor

Core issues discussed:

  • Core advantages of working in the industry including:
    • Autonomy
    • Opportunity for work in diverse settings
    • Opportunity to direct a career pathway to own interests
    • Seeing people reach full potential
    • Perspectives of a student: what she found enjoyable about studying Rehabilitation Counselling

Paul: Ok, so we have heard about some of the settings that Rehabilitation Counsellors work in and some of potential challenges you have to face when dealing with all these different stakeholders etc but what do you consider to be some of the best things about the profession of Rehabilitation Counselling?

Michael: Well, I think that we have touched on it in the discussion to date, is that there isn’t one best thing about it. I think it’s the combination of all the different facets of Rehabilitation Counselling - the direct counselling involvement with the client, the liaison role, the negotiation role, the visiting of different workplaces, the interaction with the Doctors and the allied health professionals, with the claims side of it. It’s such a diverse role with so many arms to it, that in fact, you can launch from this role - a Rehabilitation Counsellor role - to so many different areas related areas like Human Resources, Management, running your own business. I do a bit of EAP (Employee Assistant Program) work as well. I love the counselling side of it but I also like rolling up my sleeves and getting out there in the factories. I’ve been to chicken farms in the middle of nowhere, I’ve been to military installations with people on tanks, I’ve kind of done a lot of things that are exciting and interesting and you wouldn’t get that in any other industry where you get that kind of diverse range of experiences in a professional setting and it’s all so great fun. That’s the other part of it. I found it was always interesting and varied and a lot of fun. I enjoyed doing it. There is travel as well which is important. You’re not in the one place at the one time all the time. You’re not administratively burdened all the time. Yes, you have to do reports as Greg mentioned but that’s just part of your role – it’s not everything. Also, the phone calls, the meeting people, the going out to work places and seeing people sometimes at their home or within the Allied health practice. So I don’t think there is any easy answer to say that there is any one aspect of the job that really is most rewarding or exciting – I think every aspect is good. As I said earlier, I commend it to everyone. I notice that there is more women in the audience than there are men. I don’t know if that is what that industry is like.  I’ve got a feeling that it’s a bit more evenly spread than it is in the audience today. But I certainly encourage men who are considering this profession to really step up and give it a go because I found it so rewarding and exciting. I have grown through the profession if you like, and gone in so many different directions as a result of it. It’s given me the confidence in a number of areas, which I probably wouldn’t have had, had I not experienced all the different aspects of the role.  Learning all the medical jargon, being able to talk to Physios and Doctors at their level without feeling intimidated. So, it’s given me this level of confidence I suppose. And in my own medical management, in helping family members – it’s got a lot of pluses to it.  So, I’d highly commend it, I really would.

Paul: So there is no stagnation – you are constantly learning, constantly developing, constantly experiencing?

Michael: Exactly, exactly.

Paul: Would anyone else like to say something?

Regina: You have a lot of autonomy. I think that’s the other thing. When you initially start, you would be mentored, particularly under the new framework - it’s important that everyone is mentored into the role - that you are writing your reports correctly, liaising properly etc. But you have a lot of autonomy, a lot of influence as well – to positively impact on someone’s life and I think that’s a great aspect of the job.

Janette: Absolutely. I love the transformational aspects of the work that we do. There is so much diversity as Michael said. The workplaces that I have been to, I couldn’t tell you them all – they are absolutely fascinating. If you are at all a curious person, then this is the profession for you because you get to go and do the most amazing things in the quest to solve problems and create pathways and work with people. And, it still touches me very deeply, the human interaction. We work with people who are at the lowest ebb of their life and they cannot see a future and we work with them through those periods and it’s incredibly rewarding and humbling to be part of that. Even just yesterday, a young fellow that I am working with told me that he finally engaged with a Psychologist and I felt tears come to the back of my eyes. It was just an emotional reaction to – that is a breakthrough. That still gets me after many many years.

Paul: He’s on the pathway to recovery?

Janette: Absolutely. That told me that he had engaged, for himself and I think that’s the best thing.

Paul: Greg, what do you think is the best thing about the profession?

Greg: You can create your own role and everyone is different. I really love going out to workplaces, talking to supervisors, talking to co-workers, they can solve all the problems – not the Doctor. The Return to Work plan had to work in the actual workplace and that’s what I like. Going to the workplaces and talking to the supervisor and the co-workers and the person who is coming back and they would work out “Greg we can do this, we can do that”.  Australian workplaces are pretty fair - they are not as fair as they used to be but they are still very fair. If you are a regular worker they will help you get back to work. They will change the job to suit you. So that’s very good.

Paul: Thanks Greg. Carly, I won’t ask you to reflect too much on the profession as you are just a student, but what attracted you to Rehabilitation Counselling?

Carly: I think that it was that it complemented the Psychology that I had already learnt and definitely the human interaction with other people. One of the subject that we had to learn – Motivational interviewing and Paul and Greg ran it – that was fantastic, apart from the fact that we had to do simulated role modelling, I hated that. But, it was really beneficial and really fantastic because instead of just reading and reading and reading all of the material we had to work together and pretend that someone was the client and motivate them to come to the goals that they wanted to achieve as we’ve all mentioned earlier – the goals that they wish to achieve and what’s going to best for them in the long run and working with them to get that goal at the end or suggesting things along the way. But I think also from a course perspective, the course is organised really well. All the Lecturers are really really interesting and have a lot of background behind them and most of the subjects are taught in block mode so it allows you to still be able to have a casual or part time job which I think is really important as we have been talking about work as well. So it’s really important to have that and study and not feel like you’re totally run down. Also, obviously having the placement as requirement has definitely been beneficial. Also, one more thing – in the second year you can choose thesis or a different kind of study but that allows you to choose something that’s really interests you so you can take the path you’re interested in. So I’m interested in transition and once you’re interested a s Professional Dancer – once your injured you can no longer be a dancer anymore if your legs are no longer working for you. So what happens? For Dancers especially, that’s their identity. Not even for Dancers, but for everybody in the workplace - that becomes your identity when you go there every day and that becomes who you are. So when you can no longer be there anymore, I think it’s really important to work with people and see what other skills they do have - what’s transferable to a different kind of workplace and working with them to find that.