Volume 3, Issue 6, December 2008: Ethics in Vocational Rehabilitation

In this edition of reSearch we explore the topic of ethics in vocational rehabilitation. reSearch was originally created as a vehicle to further explore disability related topics presented by patrons through our information service via phone, mail, email, and our chat-based reference service. In November, NARIC received an email and chat request for information regarding ethics in vocational rehabilitation:

I have a question, I work for the State of Illinois and would like to create a training program for our staff based on ethics. I am looking for sample questions and scenarios that we can use for discussion. These could be based on case work, general work ethics, anything that might apply to workers in a State Rehabilitation agency…. (11/3/08)

I am looking for some sample ethical situations for discussion for an ethics’ training for State Rehabilitation staff. Do you have a file of sample questions? (11/20/08)

This request challenged our information retrieval skills! We were unable to locate sample discussion questions or scenarios in REHABDATA, outside databases, or general Internet searches. We were able to locate additional resources to assist this patron in his/her search, including two specific documents located online by our information specialists:

These and other resources are included in this research brief under the “Quick Looks” section.

The research presented in this issue provides a “snapshot” of ethics in vocational rehabilitation over a 10-year period. Combined search terms included: “ethics and rehabilitation” and “ethics and vocational rehabilitation”. A listing of approximately 30 additional descriptor terms between the NARIC, ERIC, NCRTM, and PubMed databases can be found at the end of this document. A search of the REHABDATA database resulted in eight documents published between 1999 and 2006. The ERIC database search resulted in one document from 2001; and a search of the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials resulted in two documents from 2002. Finally, a search of PubMed resulted in two documents published in 2002 and 2008. The complete citations are included in this research brief.

This edition of reSearch expands on our previous issue in February 2007, Volume 2, Number 1, on Best Practices in Vocational Rehabilitation (www.naric.com/public/reSearch/ReSearchVol2no1.cfm). Best Practice in Vocational Rehabilitation—and previous issues of reSearch—are available for free on our website at www.naric.com/public/reSearch/default.cfm.

NIDRR Funded Projects Related to Ethics in Vocational Rehabilitation

In addition to document searches, we searched our NIDRR Program Database to locate grantees/projects related to ethics in vocational rehabilitation. The search resulted in 14 NIDRR funded projects—6 currently funded and 8 which have completed their research activities. Project information and their publications are offered as additional resources for our patrons.

Advanced Training in Translational and Transformational Research to Improve Vocational Outcomes for Persons with Disabilities.
Project Number: H133P060003
Email: kielhfnr@uic.edu

Employment Service Systems Rehabilitation Research and Training Center.
Project Number: H133B040014

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Policy and Individuals with Disabilities.
Project Number: H133B040013

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Substance Abuse, Disability, and Employment.
Project Number: H133B040012

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Vocational Rehabilitation Research.
Project Number: H133B070001

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Workplace Supports and Job Retention.
Project Number: H133B040011

The following projects have completed their research activities:

Clinical Supervision within the State-Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Program: A Combined Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis.
Project Number: H133F020007

Development of Materials and Methods Needed to Deliver a Proven Job Retention Vocational Rehabilitation Intervention.
Project Number: H133G040216

Effective Consumer-Counselor Interactions in Vocational Rehabilitation.
Project Number: H133A00004

Effects of Client Race on Rehabilitation Counselor Perception and Judgment: A Computerized Replication.
Project Number: H133F010015

Enhancing Consumer-Counselor Working Relationships in Rehabilitation: An Empirical Research Investigation of Counselor Expectancies and Working Alliance as Variables for Optimizing Consumer-Counselor Relationships, Consumer Satisfaction, and Rehabilitation Outcomes.
Project Number: H133G80135

Improving the Efficacy of State Rehabilitation Counselors to Serve Persons with Mental Illness through Education and Technical Assistance.
Project Number: H133G20143

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Persons Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
Project Number: H133B60002 (See also H133B010501)

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on State Systems and Employment.
Project Number: H133B980037 (See also H133B010103)

Documents from NARIC’s REHABDATA search listed are listed below:


Roessler, Richard, T., & Rubin, Stanford, E. (2006). Case management and rehabilitation counseling: Procedures and techniques, fourth edition.
NARIC Accession Number: R08747
ABSTRACT: Text provides information on the skills critical to effective rehabilitation counseling and case management in public and private sector service delivery systems. Chapters focus specifically on the skills of diagnosis, information processing, planning, service arrangement, program monitoring, job placement, accommodation planning, ethical decision making, multicultural counseling, and caseload management. This fourth edition continues to draw on research completed at the Arkansas Research and Training Center in Vocational Rehabilitation at the University of Arkansas with support form the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Smith, Scott. (2006). Confronting the unethical vocational counselor in forensic practice. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 25(2), 133-136.
NARIC Accession Number: J51862
ABSTRACT: Article provides examples of situations in which vocational counselors, when reviewing the opinions of another counselor, may determine that erroneous conclusions were made based on unethical practice. Steps for confronting the unethical colleague are outlined.


Parker, Randall, M., Patterson, Jeanne, B., & Szymanski, Edna, M., (eds.) 2005. Rehabilitation counseling: Basics and beyond, fourth edition.
NARIC Accession Number: R08746
ABSTRACT: Text provides an overview of the profession of rehabilitation counseling and its various subsystems, including the state-federal vocational rehabilitation program. Chapters address: the profession of rehabilitation counseling; philosophical, historical, and legislative aspects of the rehabilitation counseling profession; professional practice in rehabilitation service delivery systems and related system resources; ethics and ethical decision making; rehabilitation counseling theories; practice considerations and interventions; psychosocial impact of disability; an ecological approach to vocational behavior and career development of people with disabilities; people with disabilities in the workplace; psychological assessment, research, and technology in rehabilitation counseling; and the sociopolitical context of rehabilitation counseling practice.

Saunders, Jodi, L. (2005). Understanding ethical decision-making and behaviors: An important prelude to improved service delivery and employment outcomes.
NARIC Accession Number: O16374
Available in PDF — www.naric.com/research/rehab/download.cfm?ID=101451
ABSTRACT: Study examines the ethical decision-making of rehabilitation counseling students and professionals. Quantitative analyses examines the relationship among cognitive complexity, moral development/reasoning, and personality in relation to ethical decision-making behavior and the development of strategies for improving the services and vocational outcomes for people with disabilities. Preliminary results indicates no significant relationship between cognitive complexity and ethical decision-making.


Belcas, E.M., Blackwell, T.L., Burton, K.A., & Strohmer, D.C. (2002). Ethics in rehabilitation counselor supervision. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 45(4), 240-247.
NARIC Accession Number: J43996
ABSTRACT: Article addresses some of the ethical issues facing rehabilitation counselors who provide clinical supervision. Ethical issues related to competence, evaluation and due process, dual relationships, confidentiality, and informed consent are discussed.


Parker, R.M., Patrick, A., & Patterson, J.B. (2000). Choice: Ethical and legal rehabilitation challenges. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 43(4), 203-208.
NARIC Accession Number: J40008
ABSTRACT: Article on ethical and legal issues for rehabilitation counselors in relation to consumer choice within the rehabilitation process. Topics include: legislative requirements in regard to consumer choice in rehabilitation; ethical foundations of choice; barriers to choice as perceived by 17 vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors (the most frequently cited barrier was an unrealistic vocational choice); and how a VR counselor can help a client to make realistic choices.

Riemer-Reiss, M. (2000). Vocational rehabilitation counseling at a distance: Challenges, strategies and ethics to consider. Journal of Rehabilitation, 66(1), 11-17.
NARIC Accession Number: J38806
ABSTRACT: Article on issues related to vocational rehabilitation (VR) distance counseling (telecounseling) through use of telephones, e-mail, or interactive real-time video via television or the Internet. Discusses challenges of telecounseling such as counselors’ technology anxiety, questions of efficacy, inequities in technology access, and client confidentiality. Also discusses advantages of VR telecounseling.


Magee, H. (1999). Ethical issues in vocational expert witness testimony. The Rehabilitation Professional, 7(4), 29-32.
NARIC Accession Number: J37353
ABSTRACT: Article discussing ethical standards for vocational rehabilitation (VR) professionals in relation to the current rules and procedures of the U.S. Social Security Administration. The discussion focuses on the demand that VR professionals appearing as expert witnesses in SSDI and SSI appeal hearings testify about claimants’ eligibility based on a pre-hearing case file review and the claimant’s in-hearing testimony, without a thoroughgoing vocational assessment. The author discusses how this demand conflicts with professional standards, and how it may leave the VR professional vulnerable to lawsuits. The article ends with a recommendation that professional organizations take up this issue.

Full-text copies of many of these documents may be available through NARIC’s document delivery service. To order any of the documents listed above, note the accession number and call an information specialist at 800/346-2742. There is a charge of 5¢/page for copying and shipping with a $5 minimum on all orders.

Documents from the Education Resource Information Center (ERIC) search at www.eric.ed.gov are listed below:


Flach, Frederic, (ed.). (2001). Directions in rehabilitation counseling, 2001. Directions in Rehabilitation Counseling, 2, 1-12.
ERIC #: ED464290
ERIC Full-Text: www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED464290
ABSTRACT: This volume of 12 lessons provides expert information on a variety of medical and psychological issues in rehabilitative counseling. The lessons, which may be applied toward continuing education credits, are: (1) “Integration of Psychiatric Treatment and Rehabilitation” (Jeanne Steiner, Larry Davidson, Michael A. Hoge, and Selby Jacobs); (2) “Addressing the Needs of Clients with Traumatic Injury and Alcoholism” (Charles H. Bombardier); (3) “Recent Developments in Genetic Testing and the Rehabilitation Counselor” (Joseph E. Havranek); (4) “Substance Abuse Treatment for Pregnant and Parenting Women” (Rivka Greenberg, Judith Fry McComish, and Jennifer Kent-Bryant); (5) “Ethical Issue Considerations Working with Multiple Rehabilitation Disciplines” (Irmo Marini and Bruce Reed); (6)”The Psychological Impact on Survivors of Extraordinary, Stressful, and Traumatic Events: Principles and Practices in Critical Incident Response for Rehabilitation Counselors” (Mark A. Stebnicki); (7) “Problem Gambling: The Addiction of the New Millennium” (Brian T. McMahon and Carolyn E. Danczyk-Hawley); (8) “The Vocational Expert: Qualifying and Methodological Approaches to Earning-Capacity Evaluations” (Rodney N. Isom); (9) “Latino Culture and Mental Health in the USA” (Renato Alarcon); (10) “Developing the Case Management Relationship with Seriously Ill Homeless Individuals” (Matthew J. Chinman, Peggy Bailey, Jennifer Frey, and Michael Rowe); (11) “Meeting the Psychosocial Needs of Burn Survivors and Their Families” (Shelley A. Wiechman and David R. Patterson); (12) “Promoting Adaptive Goal-Seeking Strategies in Consumers with Borderline and Related Personality Disorders” (Alan Davis). Each lesson contains references.

Document from the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials (NCRTM) search at http://ncrtm.org are listed below:


(2002). On-Boarding Handbook-General Knowledge Georgia Department of Labor; Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Georgia Department of Labor, Vocational Rehabilitation Program, 2002.
NCRTM #: 923.004
Available in PDF – library.ncrtm.org/pdf/923.004.pdf
ABSTRACT: This handbook is designed for use by the new employee. It contains basic information that will be needed to work within a Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. Some of the topics covered are the VR process, code of ethics, evaluation, assessment, and interpretation and how to use special equipment.

Duffy, Tom, & Oehler, Marie, E. (2002). Fundamentals of rehabilitation. Buffalo, NY: Region II Rehabilitation Continuing Education and Community Rehabilitation Programs, 2002, p. 118.
NCRTM #: 745.034
Available in PDF – library.ncrtm.org/pdf/745.034.pdf
ABSTRACT: This workbook, which is an introductory course, contains sections on history, philosophy of rehabilitation ethics, medical and psychosocial aspects, vocational issues, and theory of change.

Documents from the National Library of Medicine PubMed search at www.pubmed.com are listed below:


Henderson, A. (2008). Workforce: Benefit from a help hand. Health Service Journal, 2008 Oct., 9:30-1.
PMID #: 18975413
No abstract available.


Nielsen, M. (2002). How ethical principles affect case management: A real-life example. Case Manager, 13(3), 68-71.
PMID #: 12011841
No abstract available.

Quick Looks

ADA & IT Technical Assistance Program (ADATA) – Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers
Training: www.adata.org/training/index.html#searchadacourse

ADA Training Resource Center

Ethical Practice in Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Charles D. Palmer, Ph.D., C.R.C.
Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education Mississippi State University

Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
Free consulting service to increase the employability of people with disabilities.
Toll Free: 800/526-7234 (V/TTY)
Training: janweb.icdi.wvu.edu/training/index.htm

National Rehabilitation Association (NRA)
NRA is a member organization whose mission is to promote ethical and excellent practice in rehabilitation.
Phone: 703/836-0850 (V), 703/836-0849 (TTY)
Training and Conferences: nationalrehab.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=24&Itemid=65

RRTC on Workplace Supports
VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Workplace Supports and Job Retention
Phone: 804/828-1851 (V), 804/828-2494 (TTY)
Training: www.worksupport.com/training/index.cfm

Quick Looks Google and Google Scholar Search Results

Google Scholar Search Results (approximately 11,900) for Ethics and Vocational Rehabilitation snipurl.com/718k3

Google Search Results (approximately 226,000) for Ethics and Vocational rehabilitation

Google Scholar Search Results (approximately 2,690) for Ethics Training for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors

Google Search Results (approximately 27,000) for Ethics Training for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors

Search Terms for Ethics in Vocational Rehabilitation

  • Accommodation
  • Assistive Technology
  • Case Management/Administration/Organization
  • Client Counselor Relations/Records
  • Continuing Education
  • Counseling/Evaluation/Techniques
  • Counselor/Training
  • Disability Determination
  • Eligibility
  • Employment/Supported/Legislation
  • Ethics/Principle-based
  • Family-Centered Care
  • Internet
  • Legal Concerns
  • Legislation
  • Needs Assessment
  • Personality Disorders
  • Philosophy
  • Placement
  • Planning
  • Prejudice
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychiatric Services
  • Psychological Evaluation
  • Psychosocial Factors
  • Rehabilitation/Counseling
  • Service Delivery
  • SSDI
  • SSI
  • Supervisors
  • Testimony
  • Treatment Refusal
  • Vocational Case Management/Evaluation/Rehabilitation

About reSearch:

reSearch is a new information product from the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC). Each issue is based on real-world queries received by our information specialists from researchers, educators, and rehabilitation professionals around the world.

We search several sources both in-house and online, to fill these requests including:

We hope you find these reSearch briefs informative in your own research.

- NARIC Information and Media Team