My journey into the world of Vocational Rehabilitation – by Amanda Mason
Am I a Vocational Rehabilitation Practitioner? My title at Vitality360 is Career and Employment Consultant and I consider myself primarily a Career Guidance Professional. But what matters most – the job title or the experience we bring and what we actually do to help our clients?
Way back in 1996 I started the process of becoming a qualified Careers Adviser by undertaking the Diploma in Careers Guidance (DipCG), a one year post graduate course with an assessed probationary year in a Further Education College. As a member of the Career Development Institute (CDI – the professional body for all aspects of career development professions) I am committed to adhering to their Code of Ethics which gives the public the confidence of the standards of practice and professional behaviour they can expect from their career development professional. My training and experience have given me the theoretical underpinnings of occupational choice, guidance skills and Labour Market and Job Search knowledge to support people to make informed career choices, whether that is a young person trying to decide what GCSE courses to take and what to do when they leave school, or an adult considering career change or looking/applying for work.
My journey into the world I now recognise as Vocational Rehabilitation began when I had the opportunity to work on the Support, Empower and Employ people with M.E. (SEE M.E.) for Action for M.E. This gave me the amazing chance to be embedded within the North Bristol Trust CSF/ME clinic supporting their patients to gain and retain work, or when appropriate make the best exit from work. I am not a clinician; my focus was on the work aspect of their rehabilitation but working alongside these specialist clinicians helped me understand their clinical approach which enabled me to ensure my approach complemented their rehabilitation work. This led to my work with Vitality360 as a Career and Employment Consultant specialising in supporting people with persistent pain and fatigue around their career and employment needs.
The primary aim of a career guidance professional is to help clients make ‘well informed realistic career decisions’ and I have always found career redirection the most satisfying part of my role. I use my training, experience, and professional practice to encourage clients to tell their ‘career story’ and help them identify their transferable skills, consider what they want and need from their work and suggest an action plan with practical steps to take that goal forward. Using this narrative technique helps me fully tailor the interventions to the individual. This is particularly rewarding when the client has health issues to factor into that decision and they are just getting used to their ‘new normal’, building confidence in what might be possible for them to achieve within work.
Looking back I can see how many of the people I was working with were facing health challenges, from the Deaf young man I supported to ensure he had access to a course in my probationary year at an FE College, to the employment support sessions I ran for Solent Mind, to the huge number of clients that I saw on health related benefits when I was working for the National Careers Service in the Job Centre. Although my job was to support their career goals and find work, it always seemed natural to me that their health was an integral part of that work conversation – what needed to be in place to make their work manageable alongside their health. But I remain a ‘Careers Geek’ and believe passionately in the power of a career guidance intervention to motivate people, build their confidence and give them practical steps forward whatever their circumstances.