There are millions of people in the world who need someone who can listen to them. This isn’t some sort of get-rich-quick, motivational speaker ploy. Before I tell you about this, just know that it’s not easy, but it can be rewarding. Know that you truly must be motivated to help those who need help. Know that it can change your life and how you look at the world, for good.
I’m talking about Psychosocial (or Psychiatric) Rehabilitation. This is a job very few people really can do well. Your primary task is to listen to people and help them achieve their goals, which seems like it should be easy. Yet working with people who have been diagnosed with mental health issues takes mental strength, patience, problem-solving skills, empathy, organizational skills, communication skills, and motivational skills. If you have even one of these skills, and want to help people, read on.
Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR)
First, a disclaimer: If you go into this field, it’s more than likely you will have clients who, at one point or another, are suicidal. Many of your clients will be young, and suicide disproportionately affects young people. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-24, and the second leading cause of death for people ages 25-34. Perhaps the reason for this is that mental health is fragile for the young, who are still working on finding their identity and making their way in the world.
That being the case, be prepared to take on young clients with parents that haven’t been able to figure out how to help their kids adapt to society. There is a sense in which the parents are also your clients.
The majority of your clients will need to learn coping skills. They don’t know what to do when they feel frustrated and angry, depressed, and anxious. They’ll need to learn social skills and how to identify healthy relationships. They’ll need to learn how to organize their lives, do homework, and get jobs. They’ll need to learn how to apply what their counselor is teaching them to their everyday lives.
Here’s the great thing about this: when I was a PSR specialist, I did stuff with clients like go to the rec center after school, play Dungeons and Dragons with a community group, go to the park, make art, play music, sit in the coffee shop, play cards, and chat about life. You’re not rehabilitating clients in a boring and stifling atmosphere, you’re doing it in the real world. There are some practicalities to consider:
To get a PSR job, it helps a great deal to have a BS in psychology, sociology, or social work. Psychology is the most common degree in the field. However, If you don’t have such a degree, it’s not necessarily a barrier to entry. I became a PSR specialist with an English degree.
You’re going to be doing a lot of driving. Find out ways to save money on your car. Keep track of mileage as if you’re self-employed, because plenty of agencies you’ll work for won’t reimburse you for gas. You can, however, write off fuel expenses on your taxes. You’ll have to prove your car insurance and registration are always up to date.
This job requires a lot of paperwork as you regularly update client treatment plans. And, in my state, every 90 days I had a to submit an application for more client hours to the insurance company.
Location and Certification
Each state differs when it comes to PSR. Some states require you to get a CPRP certification at some point in the process, either before you get the job, or after you’ve had it for a while. Look into your state’s policies on PSR.
To continue working in the PSR field, you have to get continuing education units (CEUs). You can get these simply by reading qualifying materials online or by attending qualifying events your agency will tell you about.
Like the state-by-state variation for certification requirements, the rate of pay varies per agency. Check out the job listings to get a good idea.
No matter what the pay, psychosocial rehab is well worth it. You’ll work hand in hand with therapists to help people achieve their goals. Whether the goal is to make more friends, get a job, or cope with anger, you learn a great deal as you concentrate on other people’s problems and forget your own. In the end, your perspective on life grows deeper, broader, and more colorful, because you get to know some of the most interesting and genuine people on Earth.