UNTWISE Blog Series: The Rehabilitation Professional

Dr. Paul Leung, Ph.D., CRC

Dr. Paul Leung, Ph.D., CRC

Over the years, I have written much but I’ve never done a blog so this invite from Martha is a first for me. With an assigned theme to highlight my journey in becoming a rehabilitation professional, I really didn’t know how to begin. The struggle was I’m not sure what interest someone would have about what I’ve done or not.

So I’ll just start by echoing what others have said in the previous blogs. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a profession that merits the attention of anyone who may be interested in working with people and particularly people with disabilities. There is no question in my mind that the rewards of working in rehabilitation have been far greater than I would have imagined when I began. While my ending up in rehabilitation was not particularly accidental (I needed a job and with a baccalaureate in psychology/sociology/art, employers were not clamoring at my door) it was certainly not planned. But I came in during the era of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and there were plenty of opportunities. This was in many ways truly an age of expansion. I believe it remains true as even today, there is opportunity and plenty of room for folks wanting to make a difference. The bottom line for me is that it has been an incredible run and I truly believe it can be for you who are reading this now. Continue reading

UNTWISE Blog Series: The Rehabilitation Professional

Martha Garber, M.Ed., LPC-s, LMFT

Martha Garber, M.Ed., LPC-S, LMFT

In high school, three professions interested me: law, medicine and counseling. Born in Southeast Missouri in the mid-20th century, these professions were not considered appropriate for a woman much less one with a disability. My vocational rehabilitation counselor and father decided it would be best for me to be trained as a teacher even though I had no interest in public school teaching… and so it was.

After college, I stumbled into a job working as an evaluator/instructor at a state-operated vocational rehabilitation facility. It was there I found my passion of working with people to help them realize their dreams. It seemed like a perfect fit as I have a strong work ethic, love solving puzzles and wanted to provide others with the vocational support that I had craved. The work required planning, determination and a large quantity of creativity… all qualities I thought I possessed. It also required more knowledge and education to provide the consumers all they deserved so within a few months I moved forward to attain that education. Continue reading

UNTWISE Blog Series: The Rehabilitation Professional

Chandra Donnell Carey, Ph.D., CRC

Chandra Donnell Carey, Ph.D., CRC

As an undergraduate, I felt like I had my future all worked out. I would complete my pre-med degree, go to medical school, complete my residency and then move to Paris to practice obstetrics. I had two major influences in that career choice – The Cosby Show (it was the show of my youth) and my French teacher, Madame McCullough who had spent her adolescence and college years in France. Well obviously, I had not shared my entire career outlook with my career and guidance counselor; and with no one to talk me out of it, I was off!

Well, sort of. After major stumbling blocks in the first series of Biology courses (i.e., barely passed), it wasn’t until I took the Biology research course and easily passed it, that I realized a different future might be better suited to my skills.

I landed in Psychology and was fortunate at my small liberal arts school in Ohio to have a very passionate, yet colorful faculty who really awakened a new curiosity in me for understanding human behavior. During my junior year, I worked toward meeting our university’s community service requirement and my advisor located a family in need of behavioral therapists to work in their home, with their 4 yr. old son with Autism. This was an exhilarating experience. We were essentially carrying out non-aversive behavioral modification, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Continue reading

UNTWISE Blog Series: The Rehabilitation Professional

Brandi Darensbourg, Ph.D., CRC

Brandi Darensbourg, Ph.D., CRC

Throughout my life, I had many service providers, including vocational rehabilitation counselors who assisted me in my career path. In particular at the age of 18 years old, I met a rehabilitation professional who was blind and living a very independent life. Growing up in rural, south Louisiana I did not know many people with blindness or visual impairments who were working and actively participating in society. Little did I know at the time, but meeting this professional would lead me to my career in rehabilitation. She was an excellent role model that showed me a person with blindness could be successful in life. She was very proficient in her disability related skills which allowed her to be so independent. This taught me that I really needed to not focus on my education but also on my disability related skills. After meeting her, I became even more comfortable in presenting myself to society as a person with a visual impairment. I knew then that I wanted to change the life of at least one person with a disability in the way she had so graciously done for me.

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UNTWISE Blog Series: The Rehabilitation Professional

Linda Holloway, PhD, CRC

Linda Holloway, PhD, CRC

I’ve often heard that the field of rehabilitation is “one of the best kept secrets.” Unlike professions such as teaching, medicine, etc., most children don’t declare at age 10 – “I want to be rehabilitation professional.”   My personal journey began when my mother was diagnosed with a serious mental illness when I was a child. Luckily, she had a psychiatrist who knew the value of work in helping people through their recovery.   With treatment, medication, and, most importantly, a meaningful job, my mom blossomed.

So, I learned at an early age that “we don’t have to be well to go to work, we often go to work to get well”(quote from Richard Pimentel). I knew that I wanted to help people rebuild their lives and like many of you, I stumbled upon the field. Psychology was too focused on the pathology, Social Work didn’t really look at disability, but rehabilitation… oh, my… it was a perfect fit!

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Do Texans with Disabilities Really Want to Work?

Norine Gill

Norine Gill

Well, apparently they do!  When the Health and Human Services Commission issued a notice for people with disabilities interested in serving on an Employment First Task Force, over 100 applications came in – an impressive response by agency standards.  In fact, the Employment First Task Force is the result of legislation initiated by advocacy groups frustrated with systems issues that create barriers to employment.  The legislation mandated that one-third of the committee membership be people with disabilities – a first for a statewide agency advisory committee.

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