Coordinator: Denise Thew Hackett
Prepare rehabilitation and mental health professionals who are skilled in advocating for and with persons who are deaf or have disabilities and who are competent counselors knowledgeable about the development and dissemination of innovative and culturally sensitive rehabilitation practices and policies.
- Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of the rehabilitation counseling related theories and policies.
- Demonstrate competency in facilitating employment, independent living, community integration and personal adjustment for individuals who are deaf or have disabilities and come from diverse cultural backgrounds.
- Show commitment to professional excellence and leadership through the practice of ethical behavior and integrity.
The Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling (RMHC) program at WOU was established on the belief that individuals who are deaf and/or have disabilities have a right to lead fulfilling, independent and productive lives. Trained professionals are an important component to the realization of this right.
Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling is offered at the graduate level only. Preparation consists of a two-year sequential program that integrates academic knowledge and theory with closely supervised counseling practice. The primary focus of this program is to train rehabilitation counselors to assist people who are deaf or who have physical or mental disabilities to become independent and self-sufficient. Graduates are prepared for positions in a variety of agencies where the counselor is part of a team of specialists providing comprehensive services to persons who have a disability.
Employment opportunities that are within the scope of training include: vocational rehabilitation counselor, case manager with a vendor who serves vocational rehabilitation clients, youth transition specialist, community services coordinator for adults with disabilities, student disability services, client advocate and group or supported living coordinator and mental health counselor in community and higher education settings.
The program emphasizes five major academic components:
- Individual and group counseling theory and technique;
- The influence of career acquisition and personal independence on the daily lives of people with disabilities;
- The social and psychological impact of disability on an individual and family;
- The federal, state and private service delivery systems for persons with disabilities; and,
- Self-awareness on the part of the counselors-in-training.
Students in the MHC track are required to take 9 additional credits focusing on assessment and treatment of individual who experience mental health disabilities.
The program offers three tracks:
- Rehabilitation counseling (RC) track: Graduates of this option provide counseling and consultative services to the general population of persons who have disabilities.
- Rehabilitation counseling for the deaf (RCD) track: This is one of three deaf specialty programs in the United States. Students in this program plan to seek employment as counselors or consultants for culturally deaf people, deafened individuals and to persons who are hard of hearing.
- Mental health counseling (MHC) track: Graduates of this track are eligible to seek licensure as a licensed professional counselor in mental health settings.
Students in all three tracks share core classes. However, those students specializing in deafness are assigned to specifically focused practicum and internship experiences working with deaf or hard of hearing. All RCD students must demonstrate American Sign Language proficiency. The MHC track has an additional 9 graduate credits in the following three courses: PSY 561 Psychopharmacology , PSY 525 Drug and Alcohol Assessment and PSY 527 Crisis Assessment and Intervention .
Program core course requirements for the RC track begins the fall term each year and requires a minimum of seven sequential terms, including one summer term. The RCD and MHC tracks are required to take additional courses in the summer. In addition, the RCD track are required to attend the Rehabilitation Counseling with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adults (RCDHHA) certificate program the summer prior to the first fall term. Most full-time RC and RCD students complete the program by June of their second year.
The program is certified by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs (CACREP) through July 31, 2025. The RCD track has been selected by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) as an exemplary program in the 15 cooperating states that are part of this commission.