Rehabilitation Psychology
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Rehabilitation Psychology

Rehabilitation psychology is a specialty area in psychology. Rehabilitation psychology takes all the studies and applications of psychology and focuses it on people who have disabilities and/or health conditions, usually chronic. This is a way to make sure that an individual's health and welfare, independence and choice, functional abilities, and social roles are at the individual's highest capabilities. 4

Rehabilitation psychologists can work in a variety of settings. They can work in acute-care hospitals, agencies that assist with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and other diseases of the nervous system, assisted living centers, long-term care facilities, health clinics, hospitals, drug rehabilitation centers, or physical therapy centers.

Populations Served

Rehabilitation psychologist work with a wide variety of people. Clients may have a variety of physical, sensory, neurocognitive, behavioral, emotional, and/or developmental disabilities. They may also work with people who have been diagnosed with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, strokes and other problems that can come along with aging, amputations, neuromuscular disorders, chronic pain, cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and limb weakness. Some work with people who have developmental disorders such as mental retardation or autism. Psychiatric disability, substance abuse, impairments in sensory functions might also be something a rehabilitation psychologist might work with.

Treatment Techniques

Clinical Practice - Clinical practice focuses on trying to help individuals and their support systems with, and adapting to, the effect of injury or illness. Depending on what the client's needs are now and as they change in the future, the rehabilitation psychologist would recognize the implications of the client's injury or illness and relate it to the client's life. Sometimes the rehabilitation psychologist is part of a multidisciplinary team to maximize the clients functioning level. Another part of clinical practice of a rehabilitation psychologist is maximizing the client's social participation, their participation in activities, recreation, education, and employment. 4

Consultation 5 According to the study Psychological Consultation in Rehabilitation by Jihong Park and Alan Nasypany, there are four steps of consulting strategies in rehabilitation psychology.

1. In which stage of change is the client?

1. Pre-contemplation - Clients have no intention of changing their behavior, mainly because they do not think that there is a problem 2. Contemplation - Clients are aware of the problem, but they can't seem to make a commitment to fix it 3. Preparation- Clients can find out what options are available for them and what they think will work best 4. Action - Clients actively change their behavior 5. Maintenance - Clients continue to progress with their actions

It is very important for clinicians to realize what stage their clients identify with in order to fully be able to help them through the rehabilitation process.

2. Does the clinician know the clients personality?

This question focuses on the client's locus of control. Does the client have an extrinsic locus of control or an intrinsic locus of control? Also, does the client have an introverted personality or extroverted? Another thing to take into consideration when assessing a client would be how they manage stress, like when there is an injury. Men and women have different ways of generally dealing with stressors.

3. What are the client's goals and the clinician's goals? To start off, generally rehabilitation psychologists use the acronym IM SMART to set goals. The clinician listens to the goals of the client and then integrates his or her goals into the client's goals.

Individual Mutal

Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely

4. Does the client adhere and stay motived? Social and environmental support should be considered when figured out how and if clients are adhering to their rehabilitation program. Making sure the client is staying motivated is a huge step in this process.

Core Strengths 6 In the study, Prospects for a Positive Psychology of Rehabilitation, conducted by Dana S. Dunn and Sarah B. Doughtery, they explored factors that make life worth living and the human strengths that enable people to overcome challenges, appreciate others, and regard daily experiences as meaningful.

Somato-psychological relation - how physique affects an individual's self-image, activities, and interactions with others

Individualization - rehabilitation psychology focuses on the individual and not groups.

The insider-outsider distinction - a way of accounting for the divergent but psychologically powerful perspectives perceivers have toward disability.

Existing or potential assets - The three other strengths point to the fourth - the realization that someone with a disability, no matter how severe, in no way diminishes or eliminates people's other assets.

Research Just like any other field in psychology, rehabilitation psychology has psychologist who focus on researching the topic.

Other Treatment Techniques Program development, service provision, teaching and education, training, administration, development of public policy and advocacy, service ability and political.

Education and Training 1 Typically a doctorate degree is required to become a rehabilitation psychologist. It can take between five and seven years to earn a degree and graduate students have to have original research. If someone was interested in clinical work an additional one year internship is required. There are a few schools that offer minors in rehabilitation psychology. After you graduate and are ready to be a rehabilitation psychologist, there is more training involved before you can practice professionally.

Persons looking for work experience should consider completing a supervised clinical internship. Experience can also be acquired by volunteering at a mental health clinic, participate in research projects, or becoming a research assistant.

The median salary for rehabilitation psychologists in 2010 according to is $69,150 for a person working in a substance abuse clinics and $109,600 for a person working in a physicians' office in that same year.

American Board of Rehabilitation Psychology (ABRP) 2 The ABRP was incorporated as the certifying board for competence in Rehabilitation Psychology in 1995. It has been a member of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) since 1997. Applying for the board certification in Rehabilitation Psychology is like most other ABPP specialties. There is a mentoring process to help and guide candidate through the entire process of application, practice and oral examination.


Rehabilitation Psychology Careers. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

Rehabilitation Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

Rehabilitation Psychologist. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

What is Rehabilitation Psychology? (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

Park, J., & Nasypany, A. (n.d.). Psychological Consultation in Rehabilitation. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice, 10(1). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

Dunn, Dana S., and Sarah B. Dougherty. "Prospects for a Positive Psychology of Rehabilitation." Rehabilitation Psychology 50.3 (2005): 305-11. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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