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Rehabilitation Psychologist: Education and Career Information

Certain disabilities make it difficult to function on a day-to-day basis. A rehabilitation psychologist is the person healthcare professionals turn to for assistance in helping those people cope with their disabilities. A lucrative position, this can be a rewarding career path for someone who is concerned with helping others. This position is wide in scope in regards to type of work and clientele they serve.

What does a rehabilitation psychologist do?

A rehabilitation psychologist helps patients who have chronic diseases or disabilities deal with the mental and physical strain of their disabilities. They work with the general populations, and treat people with varied problems relating to their overall mental or physical health. This role also specializes in this field, and only works with clients that fall into certain criteria. This includes veterans or victims of domestic violence.

Rehabilitation psychologists assess patients to determine the cause and nature of their difficulties, and make recommendations for optimal function. They utilize a number of techniques and tactics, such as observing clients as they go through their daily routine, conduct interviews with the patient or their family and friends, and administer exams to test for certain disorders that may impact their emotional, cognitive, mental and social functions.

Once they have assessed and diagnosed the patient, they work to create a course of treatment that will be effective. There are a number of treatments that may be utilized:

Counseling: Individual or group therapy may be used to help the patient build social or emotional skills, address unresolved mental health issues, and facilitate personal growth.
Substance abuse treatment: Inpatient or outpatient services may be recommended in order to help a patient overcome their addiction, and begin to repair damaged relationships.
Coordination of services:The rehabilitation psychologist works with physical and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, vocational counselors and other service providers to help bring all the services a client needs together in one place to add value and help the patient make positive steps forward.

You will find them working in community centers, acute care hospitals, health care centers, in-and outpatient clinics, assisted living facilities and Veteran Administration hospitals. You may also find them working in pain and sports injury centers, or in academic settings.

How much does a rehabilitation psychologist earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sets the salary range for a rehabilitation psychologist at between $33,570 and $56,970 annually. This salary is contingent on experience and advanced education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that nearly 120,000 people worked in the field in 2014 and that the number of available jobs increased at a faster rate than those in other fields.

What types of skills are needed to become a rehabilitation psychologist?

There are a number of skills needed to be successful as a rehabilitation psychologist:

Active listening: Being able to give full attention to what others are saying, and taking the time to fully comprehend points being made. Being able to ask questions to extract the right information.

Social perceptiveness: Being aware of the reaction of others and understanding why the patient is reacting certain ways.

Service orientation: Looking for ways to assist others with a calm and helpful demeanor.

Critical thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Speaking: Speaking clearly and effectively to convey information.

Coordination: Being able to coordinate processes and procedures; adjusting actions in relation to others.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Judgment and Decision Making: Using judgment to assess resources and patient care, and making informed decisions to help improve quality of life and personal healthcare.

Time Management: Being able to juggle a number of things at one time; coordinating healthcare and keeping patients on a regular schedule.

Writing: Being able to communicate and convey information in written form; keeping the patient chart up-to-date.

Internship Requirements

Internship requirements vary based on school, state and program. There are a number of clinical hours required to complete the degree, and in gaining experience from the field. The master’s degree program internship is up to 1,000 hours.

Educational Requirements

This role takes a number of years and dedication in order to become a psychologist. The first step is to obtain a degree at the undergraduate level. This is a four-year degree program, preferably in psychology. Coursework in this program includes psychology, statistical methods in psychology, research methods, mental health & interventions, and mathematics.

Once this degree has been obtained, the student must prepare to move forward towards an advanced degree. This requires enrolling into a master’s level psychology or counseling program. This is an additional three to five years, as an internship is also required for this program. Once the master’s degree has been obtained, students are eligible to become licensed as a rehabilitation counselor following a period of supervised work experience.

Once the student completes the master’s level program, they must prepare to enter into the doctoral program, as a psychologist is a licensed doctor. This program may take another five to seven years to complete, along with a year of formal internship, and a year of supervised professional practice after receiving the degree. In order for a psychologist to work directly with individuals who have impairments that limit their functions, they must hold a license. Once the student has completed the doctoral program, they must pass the certification test to become certified. They must meet all the criteria outlined by the American Board of Professional Psychology, which are:

•Three years of experience in rehabilitation psychology, with two of those three years being supervised.
•Must be a doctoral program graduate.

The certification must be maintained with ongoing professional development. For the right person interested in psychology, this can be a very lucrative and rewarding career. Caring for others and making sure they are safe and can work toward improving their quality of life is key.

Psychology Scholarships

American Psychological Foundation Scholarships Association of Black Psychologists Epilepsy Foundation
Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship Future Counselors of America Scholarship Gallagher Koster Health Careers Scholarship
Kay Wilson Presidential Leadership Award NIH Undergraduate Scholarship NAJA Graduate Scholarship
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Psi Chi Awards and Grants Wayne F. Placek Grants
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