Common questions about Rehabilitation: Part 4

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  1. What if I have difficulty getting on with my rehabilitation consultant?

Mutual respect and a sense of partnership can help a vocational rehabilitation plan become successful. This is also called a rehabilitation alliance. If you think this alliance could be better, it is important to try and identify why you feel you are not getting on with your rehabilitation consultant. You may need to discuss this with an advocate or family member to see if there is anything specific that can be raised in a constructive way. Just because you disagree with your rehabilitation consultant’s personality, lifestyle or personal values does not mean the rehabilitation plan will not work. Most rehabilitation consultants would be very keen to discuss such problems with the hope of strengthening the alliance and improving the chances of success. In addition, most rehabilitation providers will have a feedback process, which you are encouraged to access in order to come to a resolution quickly and move forward.


  1. What if I don’t get enough help, or get too much help of the wrong type?

You should have the opportunity to provide regular feedback about this to your rehabilitation consultant. These discussions can be very important to optimise the help that you receive, which also helps improve the prospects of success. Most rehabilitation consultants will be keen to match the assistance available to your specific needs, even if these change over time.


  1. Are there any guarantees that vocational rehabilitation will work for me?

Unfortunately there are no guarantees. However, an active participant partnered with a competent and professional rehabilitation consultant, rarely fail. The availability of employment opportunities is rarely a limitation even in the most challenging labour markets. This means that if you give it a good try and remain persistent and provide feedback and seek help when needed, success is most likely.


  1. What information about me will be shared with my new employer?

Some medical conditions are sensitive or personal. Some also have the potential to damage our reputations as a decent person, or a valued and respected worker. This is called stigma when this happens. Any sensitive information which could influence an employer towards excluding a person from their workforce needs to be treated with extra care. This is an important topic for discussion with your rehabilitation consultant. Your control of the detail of this type of information can be critical to the success of the plan.


  1. What if my previous vocational rehabilitation plan was not successful even though I participated to the best of my ability?

If this has happened to you previously you can discuss this with your rehabilitation consultant. If you get another chance to participate in a second rehabilitation plan, or to continue receiving assistance under the same plan, it will help to try and understand why the previous plan was not successful. Discussing this with your rehabilitation consultant will be an important next step. Sometimes vocational rehabilitation is only available once, or can only be provided in a time limited way. If that is the case then you need to know that in advance so you can get the most from the assistance provided. Another way to get the most benefits from a time limited plan, is to learn all you can about vocational rehabilitation and about the assistance that works best for you. Then if your plan ends before you have secured a suitable job, you will have some clear strategies in mind about how to advance your career goals.



Dr Geoff Waghorn, Brisbane, ORS

Dr Waghorn has 24 years’ experience as a Registered Psychologist and 23 years in research. He is one of the leading experts on vocational rehabilitation including Individual Placement and Support (evidence-based supported employment) within Australia and internationally. To date Dr Waghorn has contributed to over 120 peer reviewed research publications. Most of his research has focussed on improving the recovery and social inclusion of individuals living with disabilities and health conditions.

In 2014 Dr Waghorn entered into the Disability Employment Australia Hall of Fame for his significant contribution to improving the lives and experiences of people with mental illness seeking employment. Dr Waghorn’s expertise includes an ability to simplify complex information and research to ensure that it can be practically applied in the real world. Geoff is a passionate advocate of open employment for people living with disabilities and severe mental illnesses who want to work. He has challenged low expectations in society with questions such as “show me the evidence that this person cannot work given the right support and a suitable job match

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