In the modern world, we recognize that many people who have a great deal to offer as individuals require added assistance in certain areas integral to functioning in society, sometimes on a day-to-day basis. A professional athlete might require mobility assistance; a teacher might require a wheelchair. A world-famous physicist might need assistance with tasks as simple, for the rest of us, as eating. Many institutions and government agencies provide a wide range of support services for Americans with disabilities, allowing them to live life to their fullest possible potential while contributing to society with their unique talents and gifts. Disability support is offered by organizations and institutions such as colleges and universities, public health agencies, medical facilities, a variety of large employers, and the US government.
A disability support counselor is a highly qualified professional who works with people with chronic illness and disability. They assist with the identification of aspects of life which require assistance, with the development of personally tailored strategies and coping skills to help improve quality of life, and with the direct administration of support, according to the American Psychological Association.
What Does a Disability Support Counselor Do?
A disability assistance counselor might do any number of things, based upon their expertise, the focus of their particular job, and the needs of those they are helping. This qualified professional might work one-on-one with someone requiring residential assistance on a daily basis. They might provide support as-needed for a larger population of individuals, such as the people living in a residential facility. Or, they might provide assistance to an organization, through expert analysis and professional advice given as part of the process of developing an overall plan to help students, employees or clientele with particular disabilities.
Are All Disability Support Professionals the Same?
The title of “disability support counselor” is a catch-all phrase, and many variations of this name are used. This reflects a tremendous variety of specialized service available within the overall profession. A direct support professional, for example, offers one-on-one support to one or more people with disabilities, whether in their own homes or in an assisted living environment. A residential counselor is someone who typically provides a wide range of supportive advice and coping skills, to help manage everything from chores around the house to issues with forming personal relationships. At a college or university, a disability support counselor will be someone who assists with every aspect of college life, from selecting courses, to finding an internship, to developing healthy study habits.
What Are the Qualifications of a Disability Support Counselor?
A broad range of qualifications are called for, depending upon the specific thrust of an intended career path, but there are a few basic qualifications. A bachelor’s degree in a psychological specialty is a frequent basic requisite, with a graduate-level program allowing one to stand out above the rest. Applicable specialties might include various types of therapy, developmental psychology, behavioral psychology, or something else entirely, depending upon the particular needs that one would like to help address. Additional skills that are useful in working with people with a range of disabilities include business administration, for helping them develop strategies to manage their affairs, as well as education, communications and data analysis.
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By providing suppport to Americans with disabilities, the disability support counselor ensures the highest possible level of function for these individuals within our society as a whole. This allows them to lead more satisfying and fulfilling lives, while contributing to the world at large, and it provides the counselor themselves with a deeply fulfilling and rewarding professional experience. Many people choose to remain in this profession for the duration of their careers, though career advancement opportunities are certainly available.