The National Rehabilitation Counseling Association
Kirk, Faith, La Forge, Jan, The Journal of Rehabilitation
History and Philosophy
The National Rehabilitation Counseling Association (NRCA) is the oldest and largest professional organization representing rehabilitation counselors. It was founded in 1958 as the first professional division within NRA (NRCA Constitution, 1958). The founding rehabilitation counselors envisioned an organization that would advance rehabilitation counseling as a profession emphasizing the counseling relationship as the basic component of rehabilitation services. This philosophy distinguishes NRCA from other rehabilitation associations.
Entering the 21st century NRCA's membership roots have broadened to reflect the expansion of rehabilitation counseling beyond the state-federal program. Today this membership is comprised of rehabilitation counselors who work in a myriad of settings which include private for profit, private non-profit, public sector, and self employment. Despite this expansion of membership the philosophy that led to the chartering of NRCA still holds true: Rehabilitation counseling is a profession, rather than a particular skill area within the context of general counseling or guidance, that transcends the variety of employment settings, for example, state-federal, mental health, drug, and hospital programs.
While NRCA is proud of its distinguished history, it recognizes that it must also build on that history in order to flourish. This is the continuing challenge to the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association and the basis of its accomplishments.
Purpose and Mission
The Preamble to the original constitution states that the purpose of the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association is to provide standards of professional conduct and performance for its members (NRCA Constitution, 1985). Through the years this role has expanded to meet the changing needs of a maturing profession, and to consolidate accomplishments in meeting the professional agenda. There are four major landmarks in the history of NRCA and the professionalization of rehabilitation counseling: The establishment of (1) the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC), and (2) the Council On Rehabilitation Education (CORE); and the development of (3) the Code of Ethics and (4) the Scope of Practice statement.
CRCC was developed in 1973 as a joint venture between NRCA and the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA) (McAlees, 1993). Their aim was to establish professional standards in order to enhance the quality of service delivery to people with disabilities. CRC certification demonstrates attainment of a specified level of knowledge and supervised work experience relevant to the practice of rehabilitation. Since the founding of CRCC by NRCA and ARCA--the two major organizations representing rehabilitation counselors--a variety of other rehabilitation organizations have joined in support of CRCC and become members of its governing body (McAlees, 1993 & CRCC Certification Guide, 1981).
NRCA was one of five major rehabilitation organizations that provided the impetus for the development of CORE. Established in 1971 and incorporated in 1972, CORE provides accreditation of Rehabilitation Counseling Education Programs (CORE, 1994). NRCA maintains representation on the Council, and affirms its continuing commitment to the policy that graduate preparation be considered prerequisite for entry level positions in the profession of Rehabilitation Counseling. CORE's mission is to ensure that graduates attain the requisite knowledge and skills to deliver quality professional rehabilitation services to people with disabilities, promote programs for professional self-improvement for rehabilitation counselors, and help meet employment needs of public and private rehabilitation agencies through providing graduate training.
NRCA, ARCA, and CRCC jointly established the Rehabilitation Counseling Code of Ethics and Scope of Practice Statement. …