Vocational rehabilitation is an allied health profession with a primary goal of assisting individuals who typically have physical and/or mental impairments with successfully integrating into the world of work. This includes individuals seeking initial entry into the labor force as well as those who are attempting to return to work. There are many vocational rehabilitation services that can be provided to individuals to help them better assimilate into a work setting and maximize their employment and earning potential. Common examples of such services include: vocational evaluation, counseling and guidance, case management, school-to-work transition, job-seeking-skills training, job placement, adaptive technology assessment, job coaching, and post-employment monitoring.
Typically, a vocational rehabilitation counselor will have an initial meeting with an individual and, based on the findings of a structured interview and records review, will develop an employment plan outlining a service provision plan designed to lead to gainful employment. While such services are often provided through state-federal (public) vocational rehabilitation agencies, there are also private vocational rehabilitation clinics and practices in which some, if not all, of these types of services are available. Many private rehabilitation practices provide vocational rehabilitation services to injured workers eligible for workers’ compensation and/or long-term disability insurance benefits.
Dr. Hankins’ counseling services are primarily provided to members of the general public as well as to individuals who qualify for vocational rehabilitation benefits as part of their workers’ compensation and disability insurance. Members of the general public who have sought rehabilitation counseling services include individuals who have various physical and/or mental impairments that have adversely affected their employment status and who are seeking to make an adjustment to alternative work. It also includes individuals without any specific impairments impacting their work capacity but who are nevertheless at a crossroads in their careers and seeking counseling and guidance to help identify employment options most consistent with their work interests and values.
Workers’ compensation and long-term disability beneficiaries referred for receipt of vocational rehabilitation services have typically sustained an injury or acquired a condition that has resulted in some degree of permanent medical impairment with resulting functional limitations and restrictions. The rehabilitation plan also includes details about any education and training that is needed to acquire the skills relevant for the occupation(s) of interest along with an estimate of the time and expense associated with vocational rehabilitation service provision ideally culminating in job placement. In such instances, Dr. Hankins must typically assess the individual’s return-to-work potential and, when appropriate, develop a rehabilitation plan that identifies viable employment opportunities in the individual’s local labor market considering factors such as the individual’s age, education, work background and functional capacity.
Dr. Hankins provides rehabilitation services in a manner consistent with person-environment correspondence theory (particularly stemming from the Minnesota Theory of Work Adjustment). This involves careful analysis in identifying employment options most likely to result in adequate correspondence between a workers’ needs and a work environment’s supplies (i.e. needs-supplies fit) as well as a work environment’s demands and a worker’s abilities (i.e. demands-abilities fit). According to the Minnesota Theory of Work Adjustment, higher levels of needs-supplies fit (e.g. with respect to work values such as autonomy, comfort and status) leads to increased job satisfaction on behalf of the employee while higher levels of demands-abilities fit (e.g. with respect to work requirements such as education, skill and reliability) leads to increased job satisfactoriness on behalf of the employer. Both of these desired outcomes typically increase the likelihood of the employee making a successful work adjustment and achieving long-term employment.