Rehabilitation Counsellor

Rehabilitation counsellors provide counselling and guidance to people who have a psychological, personal, social, physical or vocational crisis.

Counsellors determine the exact nature and impact of the problem, evaluate the client in terms of interests and skills, and provide appropriate services and options to increase the client’s quality of life. After conferring with the client’s physician, psychologist, occupational therapist, employer, or anyone else involved in assisting the client, a suitable rehabilitation programme is decided on and set in motion. The rehabilitation programme may range from one week to several years, depending on the nature of the problem and the needs of the client.

The world of psychopathology is an exciting one. In this field, you have numerous opportunities for career development in various sectors.

Rehabilitation counsellors are a social workers who carry out therapeutic programmes in a rehabilitation centre. They are trained in community work, case work and group work. Group work is a therapeutic learning environment where they meet with a group of patients at specific times, and case work is when they work one-on-one with a patient. Another part of the job as a rehabilitation counsellor involves family therapy, which is extremely important in helping patients with dependencies, and improving their family life as a whole. Report-writing is also a large part of this career.

An average day for a rehabilitation counsellor begins with a panel discussion in the morning, finding out from the nurses what happened during the night, followed by group sessions and, lastly, individual sessions. The actual activities depend on the particular stage in the programme that has been reached. Near the end of the programmes, families come in and group family therapy sessions are conducted. Each week of the programme has specific regular activities, and interesting and unique challenges.

Personal Requirements

  • a good communicator
  • good people-management skills
  • able to work as part of a team
  • able to remain emotionally distanced
  • able to show empathy, not sympathy

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

To become a social worker, you need to obtain a four-year honours degree in Social Work.

Degree: BA (Social Work), BSoc Sc (Social Work) or BA (Social Sciences) - UP, US, UWC, NWU, NMMU, UL, UZ, UJ, UNISA, UCT, UFS, RU, UKZN, Wits.

Once the course is completed, it is necessary to register with the South African Council of Social Service Professions, to be able to practise as a social worker.


  • government departments and provincial and local administration
  • SA National Council for Child and Family Welfare
  • SA Family and Marriage Society (FAMSA)
  • provincial hospitals
  • SA National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependency
  • rehabilitation centres

Further Information

SA Council for Social Service Professions
37 Annie Botha Ave
Riviera, 0084
Tel: (012) 356-9940

Getting Started

  • speak to a rehabilitation counsellor about this career and ask if you can observe him/her at work
  • do research on rehabilitation techniques

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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