Researchers Can Help VR Counselors Use Evidence-Based Practices

What do vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors need to help them better find, understand, and use evidence-based practices (EBP) when helping people with disabilities meet their employment goals?

Defining VR Counselor Needs

In 2012, the Rehabilitation Research & Training Center on Evidence-Based Practices in Vocational Rehabilitation (RRTC-EBP VR) conducted a study to learn what VR counselors need to better implement EBP into their rehabilitation plans. More than 900 VR Counselors participated in the study and responded to the following questions:

  • In what areas related to EBP in Vocational Rehabilitation do you believe you would benefit from receiving more information and training?
  • In which areas do you believe training in EBP could help you perform your job differently?
  • What challenges do you face when using online resources?
  • How can information provided be of value?

The researchers found this information helpful, but wanted to learn if VR Counselors who acquired new knowledge about EBPs applied and shared their knowledge with others. Their goal was to learn how to best facilitate implementation of EBPs and services within the state-federal VR program.

A Roadmap for Researchers

Not surprisingly, counselors working in the state-federal VR system reported a strong interest in acquiring, applying, and sharing new knowledge related to EBP, and understood that using  EBPs can help improve the number and quality of employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.  The research team concluded that to facilitate counselors’ use of EBP, researchers must:

  • Continue to work closely with VR administrators in identifying and developing EBP relevant to the profession.
  • Work with training professionals to develop training, technical assistance, and supports for VR agency staff that fit with the demands and challenges in the field.
  • Actively engage with practitioners and administrators to ensure that a clear and bi-directional approach to knowledge development is in place.

More About the Results

Both studies were conducted in collaboration with the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR). You can learn more about the study results here:

John Lui and Cayte Anderson, two leading researchers for these studies,  talked about this research at the RRTC-EBP VR’s Symposium on “Evidence-Based Practices in Rehabilitation Counseling: Findings from the Field” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on February 4, 2015.  You can access the presentation materials and listen to the presentation here:

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