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10 reasons to study rehabilitation counselling at the University of Sydney

Thinking about a career in rehabilitation counselling?
Rehabilitation counselling is a dynamic, challenging and rewarding allied health profession that is grounded in social justice, human rights, community inclusion and the value and importance of work. We've put together our top 10 reasons to study rehabilitation counselling at the University of Sydney.

1. Make a real difference to people's lives

As a rehabilitation counsellor, you will assist diverse clientele, including people with physical and mental health conditions, with chronic pain, experiencing homelessness, drug and alcohol issues, and people who are at-risk, such as refugees.

Our postgraduate program in rehabilitation counselling sets you up to provide life-changing support to help people achieve maximum participation in employment and community life through assessment, counselling, service provision and support.

"I have always seen rehabilitation counselling as the most well rounded, and grounded, of the allied health disciplines. It encompasses elements of positive psychology and biopsychosocial models, with a combined focus on vocation, ability, mental health, community engagement and case management." - Louise Bilato, Private Practice

2. You'll be highly employable

As COVID-19 continues to distort our lives, roles in healthcare are even more in demand. Seek recently listed rehabilitation counselling as the 7th most in need profession in Australia, up two places since February 2020. 

We are also ranked no. 1 in Australia and 4th in the world for graduate employability.* Many of our students secure positions in the field while still in the program and the employment rate of our graduates has consistently been 100% for a number of years.

"I obtained employment as a rehabilitation counsellor through my final placement at the University of Sydney and there has never been a shortage of work in this field. It has offered my family security since the day I graduated and it has been easy to transfer from one role to another due the variety of skills learnt from this course." - Sam Antonas, Workplace Injury

3. Open doors to a wide range of career options

Our graduates work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Advocacy and policy
  • Community-based rehabilitation
  • Community mental health
  • Disability management
  • Disability-specific community support services and centres
  • Life insurance and long-term care
  • Private consultant (vocational rehabilitation, career counselling, forensic)
  • Workers' compensation.

"For the past 22 years I have worked as a rehabilitation counsellor in a range of industries. This course has provided me with a set of skills that I could take to occupational rehabilitation, human resources and injury management. I am enjoying being able to choose work that I am interested in and where I can balance work and life." - James Hill, private consultant

4. Gain experience working on real-life problems

As a rehabilitation counselling student at the University of Sydney, you will get to work on real cases, real problems and real solutions from day one of the program.

You will complete a number of clinical and professional fieldwork opportunities across both the public and private sectors, enabling you to apply your knowledge and gain first-hand experience.

The University also has its own skill clinic, providing a physical space for students to practice their counselling skills under peer review and professional supervision.

"It's an exciting time to be associated with the profession, with an opportunity to create some very positive noise in this space. Our skill set has great applicability in areas much broader than what is ever initially realised, and it is only self-limiting if you let it be." - Stuart Wing, Recovre

5. Choose from a diverse range of subjects

Select from a variety of subjects that suit your interests or develop your own in consultation with the course director. Popular topics include psychiatric rehabilitation, forensic assessment, substance abuse, at-risk populations, developmental/cognitive impairment disabilities, and chronic pain.

"Currently I work for Juvenile Justice as the Senior Practice Officer, which means I do a lot of internal consultancy, training and development. I like working with involuntary clients because it brings a whole gamut of challenges and really improves your skill level quickly. The most rewarding part is when an involuntary client almost becomes voluntary and they start engaging in treatment and actually wanting to achieve goals on their case plans." - Tim Warton, Juvenile Justice

6. Engage in international learning opportunities

We recruit and support international students to study in our program and we cultivate international opportunities for Australian students. You will work in international policy and practice and action research projects with our regional partners in Asia and the Pacific Islands. The University of Sydney also offers a study abroad program that our students can pursue.

"My position involves leading the implementation of the community based rehabilitation program for geographically and culturally diverse districts of Nepal in close collaboration with self-help groups, disabled people's organisations, government and non-government structures. I facilitate inclusion of more than 2,500 persons with disabilities and their families based on their needs in health (treatment, rehabilitation and assitive devices), education, livelihood/income generation activities and social empowerment." - Samridhi Rana Thapa, Karuna Foundation Nepal

7. Choose from flexible learning options at a level suited to you

Our courses offer you the flexibility to study on campus or by distance learning modalities, allowing you to shape your learning to suit you. Group projects and tutorials keep learning social and students engaged with the topic, the profession, and each other. Emphasis on experiential learning and reflection personalises your professional journey.

The University of Sydney offers two courses in rehabilitation counselling:

The graduate diploma focuses on the knowledge and skills required to enter the workforce as a strengths-based, solutions-focused case manager in the context of workers' compensation.

The masters course builds on the knowledge and skills gained in the graduate diploma where you will study the science of rehabilitation counselling practice, community-based inclusive development and issues of policy and systems change. You will gain broader experience in specialised applications with the opportunity to move into a management or leadership position.

"The foundational rehabilitation counselling skills that I have learnt are helping me in my role in health. The broad skills of communication, counselling and transferable skills analysis are very relevant to the human resources field. When combined with skills and knowledge of work, health and safety, workers compensation and employment of people with disabilities, rehabilitation counselling is a very transferable skill set." - Raychel Davis, NSW Health

8. Gain professional accreditation

Our rehabilitation counselling courses are accredited programs that enable you to work in a range of settings in Australia. Your professional skills are also often recognised by employers overseas.

"This course has provided me with the skills and qualifications enabling me to live and work in London as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor for the National Health Service and be recognised as a professional member of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association (VRA) in the UK, which has been great to have on my resume."- Stacey Chapman, ANZ OnePath

9. You'll join a diverse community

We actively seek and support a diverse student group where you will enjoy the richness of social learning and learn from other students' experiences. We integrate cultural competency into counselling theory and practice and teach community inclusion by example.

"I currently work for Mission Australia as the Homelessness Programs Specialist. I hope to challenge stigma, and to influence social policy, funding and reporting in service delivery, and ultimately change the way that we address homelessness as a community." - Erin Fearn, Mission Australia

10. Learn from leaders in the field

Our rehabilitation counselling program is based on evidence, excellence and innovation. We teach leadership by example and are at the centre of the international discussion on the global identity of rehabilitation counselling. Our current head of discipline has led efforts to organise rehabilitation counselling educators in Australia as a collective voice for professional advocacy.

*QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2018.

3 October 2017