Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Relationship of Rehabilitation Client Outcome to Level of Rehabilitation Counselor Education

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Relationship of Rehabilitation Client Outcome to Level of Rehabilitation Counselor Education

Article excerpt

The relationship between rehabilitation client outcome and level of rehabilitation counselor education was examined in a state VR agency. Outcomes were examined separately for clients with severe disabilities and those whose disabilities were not severe. For clients with severe disabilities, master's degree rehabilitation counselors (MRCS) achieved significantly better outcomes than their counterparts with bachelor's and unrelated master's degrees (B-UM). No significant group differences were found between MRCs and counselors with related master's degrees (RMs) although outcomes for the RM group were consistently between those of the MRC and B-UM groups. For clients with non-severe disabilities, there were no significant outcome differences among the counselor education levels.

Section 101(a)(7)(B) of the Rehabilitation Act was amended to require delivery of rehabilitation services by qualified personnel" Rehabilitation Act Amendments, 1986), however, debate continues regarding the definition of the term qualified" (Graves, Coffee, Habeck, & Stude, 1987; Walker & Myers, 1988). Presently, state vocational rehabilitation agencies typically hire individuals with varied types and levels of college degrees and work experience as rehabilitation counselors (Hershenson, 1988; Kuehn, Crystal, & Ursprung, 1988).

The variation in rehabilitation counselor hiring criteria may reflect the fact that although the rehabilitation counselor has been recognized as the major agent of the state-federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) program (Bolton, 1987), little research has shown a positive relationship between rehabilitation counselor competence and service outcomes for rehabilitation clients (Rubin & Beardsley, 1987). Some early studies did demonstrate connections between counselor characteristics or behaviors and client perceptions or outcomes (e.g., Ayer, Wright, & Butler, 1968; Jenkins, West, & Anderson, 1975; Rubin, Bolton, Krauft, Bozarth, & Richardson, 1974), however, more recent studies have been unable to establish relationships between counselor education and client outcome in state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies (e.g., Danek, 1978; Emener, 1980; Giesen & McBroom, 1986). Although these studies provided the foundation for the current study, the relative paucity of empirical evidence relating rehabilitation counselor education to rehabilitation client outcome may be more from methodological limitations rather than the actual absence of such a relationship. Potential limitations may have arisen from: (a) inadequacy of outcome measures, (b) different outcome patterns for clients with severe disabilities as opposed to those whose disabilities are classified as non-severe, and (c) failure to account for the potential interactive relationship of counselor education with counselor work experience in relation to client outcome.

The traditional 26 closure" criterion, although often used in previous research, has been criticized as a limited outcome measure (Bolton, 1987; Walls & Tseng, 1987), which does not include the following available VR information: (a) type of employment at closure (i.e., competitive employment, sheltered employment, homemaking) (Cook & Cooper, 1979), b) relative probability of rehabilitation (i.e., rehabilitation rate), and (c) cost of service delivery. Consideration of such additional information reveals different outcome patterns for persons with severe disabilities as contrasted with their peers whose disabilities are classified as non-severe. In 1985, only 73.3% of rehabilitated persons meeting the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) definition for severe disability entered competitive employment as compared with 89.7% of rehabilitants with non-severe disabilities. In addition persons with severe disabilities were less likely to be rehabilitated than their counterparts with non-severe disabilities (overall rehabilitation rates of 62. …

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