Chapter 5: Counseling and Guidance

(Revised 07/16)

5.1 Overview of Counseling and Guidance

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counseling and guidance is the most important service provided through the vocational rehabilitation program. In some cases, counseling and guidance may be the only substantial service needed to achieve the employment outcome.

VR counseling and guidance is short-term and problem-centered and should not be considered therapy. Refer the consumer who needs more intensive counseling services to an appropriate resource.

Counseling and guidance is provided by the counselor throughout the rehabilitation process to promote a successful consumer-counselor relationship and increase opportunity for a consumer to achieve a successful employment outcome.

Counseling and guidance must be provided by a qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor. For more information see 21048 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 73.

5.2 Definition of Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling

Vocational rehabilitation (VR) counseling is a specialty within the rehabilitation profession, with counseling at its core. The outcome expected from vocational rehabilitation counseling is that the consumer initiates constructive action on his or her own to achieve a realistic vocational goal.

Engage the consumer in a decision-making process in the selection, planning, and achievement of an employment outcome, where the consumer is responsible for, and makes, decisions about the plan and services leading to employment.

The counselor works one-on-one with the consumer to:

VR counselors are professional counselors unique to the field of vocational rehabilitation. While their goals, roles, and skills may be similar to those used by other counselors, VR often poses additional challenges related to disability. Disability related challenges must be identified so that counseling strategies can be incorporated into the counseling relationship to help the consumer.

Counseling and guidance is important to the success of our consumers. The VR counselor's knowledge of disability issues, available services, and the labor market can provide the consumer with information needed to make decisions to overcome barriers that interfere with or prevent the consumer from working.

Counseling and guidance is a core vocational rehabilitation service and the individualized plan for employment must include counseling and guidance as a planned service. See Chapter 4: Assessing and Planning, 4.4 Developing the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) for more information.

Counseling and guidance is an essential component of any case that is closed as successfully rehabilitated and is documented in the case record. Refer to Chapter 1: Foundations, Roles, and Responsibilities, 1.2.8 Reflecting Quality Program Management in Documentation.

5.3 Informed Choice and Counseling and Guidance

Counseling and guidance includes information and support services to help the consumer in exercising informed choice. For more information about informed choice, refer to Chapter 1: Foundations, Roles and Responsibilities, 1.2.6 Applying Principles of Informed Choice.

*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.48(c)

Counseling and guidance is provided to assist the consumer in making informed choices and is applied during the entire rehabilitation process, from application through case closure. Counseling and guidance must be included as a planned service on every consumer's individualized plan for employment.

Informed choice is a decision-making process in which the consumer analyzes relevant information and selects a vocational goal, intermediate rehabilitation objectives, vocational rehabilitation (VR) services and VR service providers. Information about services and programs is provided to the consumer at any decision point where it would be necessary for the consumer to make an informed choice. A partnership between the consumer and the counselor empowers the consumer to make decisions resulting in a successful vocational rehabilitation outcome.

5.4 Ethics of Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling and Guidance

Understanding the principles in the Code of Professional Ethics for Rehabilitation Counselors (the code) is critical to the ethical decision-making process. The code outlines the elements of professional relationships that promote and protect the spirit of caring and respect for individuals with disabilities.

The code comprises the following six basic principles of ethical behavior:

DRS vocational rehabilitation counselors who violate the code are subject to the actions defined by DARS performance management policies. For counselors who are certified through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor certification (CRCC), violations of the code are also subject to CRCC action.

5.5 The Scope of Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling and Guidance

The essential aspects of counseling and guidance are:

Counseling and guidance includes helping the consumer to:

Counseling and guidance helps consumers learn to identify and use their options and resources to handle problems related to their disabilities. Learning to adapt to personal limitations and capitalizing on individual strengths leads to an improvement in self-esteem. The counselor encourages the consumer through establishing a relationship of mutual respect within which the counselor can be both supportive yet challenging in promoting the consumer's development of the skills needed to achieve an employment outcome. The counselor establishes and maintains productive relationships by doing what the counselor says the counselor will do.

5.6 The Frequency of Counseling and Guidance

Base the frequency and extent of counseling and guidance on such factors as:

The effective use of the vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor's time in addressing the barriers identified through assessment will allow the VR counselor to deliver sufficient vocational counseling to meet established goals and objectives. When the consumer appears to have severe thought disturbances or need an unusual amount of counseling, refer the consumer to another agency, such as local a Texas Department of State Health Services center, university psychology clinics, and other resources.

The DRS System for Monitoring Oversight and Internal Controls (MOSAIC) data sets will identify cases that have not had documented counseling and guidance.

5.7 Documenting Counseling and Guidance

Counseling and guidance is documented in a series of case notes throughout the vocational rehabilitation (VR) process. Effective counseling and guidance, and the documentation that follows, helps to tell the consumer's story.

Use a case note titled "counseling and guidance" in ReHabWorks when counseling and guidance is provided. When counseling and guidance is provided in addition to another activity that requires documentation, such as resetting a PIN, it is recommended that the VR counselor document the two activities in separate case notes to ensure that a reviewer can tell that both services were provided.

Review the last case note before contacting the consumer to ensure that all issues are addressed.

5.8 Counseling and Guidance as a Substantial Service

Counseling and guidance must be an essential component of any case closed as successful or federal reporting and documented in the case record.

If counseling and guidance is the only vocational rehabilitation service other than employment assistance, the case can meet the criteria for a successful closure only if the documentation shows that counseling was a substantial service. See Chapter 16: Closure.

Ensuring that counseling was a substantial service may include focusing on topics that: