Helping others as a rehabilitation counsellor

13 November 2018
Discover what a rehabilitation counsellor does
Palma Carfi found employment after doing a placement in the final year of her degree. She is now helping people with physical and psychological injuries regain their confidence, improve their quality of life and return to work.
Palma Carfi

What did you like most about your degree?

I enjoyed and have benefited from the variety of rehabilitation subjects provided ranging from disability to public offenders. The Master of Rehabilitation Counselling degree has enabled me as a student and now as a rehabilitation counsellor to grasp the issues of rehabilitation required for people from all backgrounds and disabilities.

Can you describe your career path to where you are now?

I started working as a High Risk Case Manager with Allianz WorkCover Melbourne after completing placement with Allianz in my final year. My role as a case manager involved assisting injured individuals with medical management, case management and with returning to work. The case manager position was a stepping stone into my next roles working within occupational rehabilitation which provided an advantage in understanding the VIC Workcover legislation and processes and how my role as a Rehabilitation Consultant could assist injured people further. Within my roles working in occupational rehabilitation, I have worked with people with physical and psychological injuries from various injury frameworks including Workcover, Comcare, ORAMS and Seacare. My role involves vocational assessments for court proceedings, facilitated discussions and mediation, counselling and being the senior contact for vocational and new employer services.

What is the most exciting or motivating part about working in rehab counselling/your industry?

A great motivating factor for me working in occupational rehabilitation has been working alongside individuals who are significantly unwell and impaired, and watching them develop the confidence to improve their quality of life and return to work.

What does your day-to-day look like in your current role?

At present, my day-to-day is never the same. I provide services across metropolitan Melbourne and occasionally to regional areas. One day I could be travelling to Ballarat and the next I could be consulting with clients in the head Melbourne office. A typical week involves meeting clients for appointments at various office locations, writing reports, conducting assessments, counselling and liaising with various parties over the phone and email.

What advice would you give someone considering your degree or considering moving into the field of rehabilitation counselling?

Obtain as much experience as possible working with people from all kinds of backgrounds e.g. mental health, homelessness, physical disability, drug and alcohol, insurance. Volunteer with different organisations, get as much exposure to all aspects of rehabilitation as possible. Rehabilitation counselling has good job prospects and opportunities can be found working in return to work services for an insurance company, self-insured employer, community services or in occupational rehabilitation.

What are your career goals?

My career goals are to move into providing vocational counselling services to people within a clinical setting such as a hospital or rehabilitation centre.

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