U.S. News and World Report announced that PSU’s Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program in the Graduate School of Education (GSE) is ranked 18th in the country (out of 88 schools), a significant advance from last year’s ranking of 24th. PSU’s program is the only rehabilitation program ranked in the top 20 in Region 10 (the Northwest).
All U.S. News rankings are based solely on the results of peer assessment surveys sent to deans, other administrators, and/or faculty at accredited degree programs or schools in each discipline. Respondents rated the academic quality of programs on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding.)
“This indicates that we have a lot of respect from our peers in the industry,” said Program Coordinator Tina Anctil. “We are the only counseling specialization serving both mental health and the vocational careers of people with disabilities or chronic illness.”
In Oregon, 14 percent of the population has some kind of disability. In Multnomah County alone, more than 65,000 people of working age (18–59) identify with a disability.* According to Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services (OVRS), there is a growing gap in the vocational rehabilitation counselor field. OVRS projects a need for dozens of qualified hires to fill imminent vacancies at its agency, and more professionals are needed for vacancies in OVRS-affiliated agencies.
About the program
The PSU Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program began in 1988 and produces approximately 13 counselors per year, 140 to date. It is fully accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). Of the 37 current students, about 45 percent have identified as having a disability, and about 40 percent have identified as having a culturally diverse background, which will contribute to a field in urgent need of more diversity. Students are supported with a Long-Term Training Grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, which provides full and partial tuition scholarships. Through internships, PSU’s program contributed over 7,800 hours of volunteer clinical rehabilitation counseling services to the community last year. Graduates of the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program have a 90 percent employment rate. Clinical rehabilitation counselors’ average salaries are the highest of all of the counseling specialty areas.
GSE Rehabilitation Counseling Graduates frequently find employment opportunities with organizations serving veterans. “My master’s degree through Portland State University prepared me well to assist people to overcome disability related barriers to employment,” said Jonathan Berreth, ’00, MS, NCC, CRC. “I have served clients in the State of Oregon VR system and Veterans for the Department of Veterans Affairs. PSU’s emphasis on the clinical aspects of making therapeutically effective connections with clients prepares counselors with the required interpersonal skills for success in a variety of rehabilitation settings.”
In 2011, the GSE received a five-year $1.2 million grant for a unique project that paired students in the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program with students in special education to work with transitional youth. These are young people with disabilities, ages 18–21, who have graduated high school with a modified diploma or have aged out of the foster care system. The Merging Transition, Special, and Secondary Education Project (MTSS) was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, and was designed to provide long-term person-centered planning to help transition participating youth into successful careers and lives.
A unique feature of the PSU counseling program is an on-campus counseling clinic that is open to the general public at minimal cost for service. Its purpose is two-fold: it provides low-cost counseling services to clients throughout the Portland area, and it also provides a supervised counseling lab for practicum students, interns, and post-master’s Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) interns. To become an LPC or Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor (LMFT) in Oregon, graduates must complete 2,400 hours of practice after program completion.
PSU clinical rehabilitation counselors treat patients with physical, mental, emotional, and developmental disabilities. Counselors are employed in a variety of treatment and rehabilitation agencies throughout Oregon and southwest Washington. Job opportunities are abundant and may be found in many different settings. Rehabilitation counselors help people with disabilities find employment that is appropriate for their interests, skills, and abilities and to live independent, rewarding, and productive lives.
*2013 American Community Survey, Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, Population Research Center