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Mental Health and Disabilities

In: Social Issues

Submitted By tbergerday
Words 1258
Pages 6
Theme Paper 4; Mental Health and Disabilities
Tonjia Berger-Day
Brandman University
Dr. Renee DuVerger

Abstract “There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender, or disability” Sharron Angle; American Politician. All individuals with the capabilities and will to work should be offered equal opportunities to do so. Unfortunately, those with disabilities – physical or mental – face not just the condition they are dealing with, they also face a deficit in the world around them; a lack of equal opportunity for many when seeking employment. Career counseling for those who have a disability is an essential task that should include the community as well as the client. Zunker (2012) states, “The overarching counseling goal for persons with disabilities is to maximize each individual’s potential for life and work in the 21st century” (p. 268). This is a task that the counselor should undertake with their clients who have added challenges, as well as advocating to the community to assist with acceptance; “Ideally, a cooperative effort between teachers and counselors promotes an effective school program that is supported and recognized by the community” (p. 269), this further supports all continued efforts and opportunities for our clients.

Mental Health and Disabilities: “There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender, or disability” Sharron Angle; American Politician. All individuals with the capabilities and will to work should be offered equal opportunities to do so. Unfortunately, those with disabilities – physical or mental – face not just the condition they are dealing with, they also face a deficit in the world around them; a lack of equal opportunity for many when seeking employment. Career counseling for those who have a disability is an essential task that should include the community as well as the client. Zunker (2012) states, “The overarching counseling goal for persons with disabilities is to maximize each individual’s potential for life and work in the 21st century” (p. 268). This is a task that the counselor should undertake with their clients who have added challenges, as well as advocating to the community to assist with acceptance; “Ideally, a cooperative effort between teachers and counselors promotes an effective school program that is supported and recognized by the community” (p. 269), this further supports all continued efforts and opportunities for our clients.
Challenging Negativity Negativity and stereotypes are a challenge that must be met, acknowledged, and fought. Zunker (2012) reminds that, “persons with disabilities are a very diverse group that share some common elements of thinking and behaving and yet have unique needs” (p. 269). To me this would be common sense, however many fear those who are outwardly different for a variety of reasons: the unknown, stereotypes, lack of education, and lack of knowledge to name a few. As a career counselor with clients who are challenged outside of the norm it is essential to fight the stereotyping and negativity from the start. The reason this is so vital to establish from the beginning is due to the effect negative thinking and rejection from those in the workplace have on those with the disabilities; the clients. Clients must have a counselor that offers them trustworthy and relevant tools to build up their self-image and know in their hearts that despite their differences they are just as desirable in the work place as others. Whether the client is living with a mental or physical condition doesn’t matter, the focus should always be directed at the client’s (potential candidate’s) talent, skills, and knowledge as it does with others not similarly challenged. As a career counselor efforts should be spent ensuring that stereotypes and labels are not emphasized, what the client can add to the overall value of the organization is much more important. Zunker (2012) eloquently advises, “The focus should be on the unique identity of a person rather than on a label that implies that everyone with that particular label is alike and has a separate status from the general population” (p. 269). Yes there is a potential for special accommodations for the client in the workplace, however this is not something to fear or run from; for the potential client or the potential employer.
Acceptance by Self and Community As a career counselor the first line of defense for the client is to acknowledge that regardless of disability they deserve opportunities on par with those offered to the general population. On the other hand it is important to acknowledge that employers have the need to pick the candidate that best enhances the success and sustainability of the organization based solely on who is best for the position (Zunker, 2012). This means that it is important for the client to understand that all job seekers face rejection, and not all of the rejection they face is connected to the condition they bring with them as an employee; “Employers are to base an individual’s ability to perform on the nature of the work rather than dismissing an individual’s application for a job simply because he or she is “disabled or handicapped” (p. 272). That being said, it is important to acknowledge that there is still an atmosphere of negative associations made with those who have challenges outside of the norm. Counselor’s best serve their clients by assisting them to overcome the negative labels and action of others. These actions of others will/can/have had the ability to derail the motivation a challenged client has to seek work. The first step is to assist them in overcoming a poor self-concept and recognizing what they have to offer an organization. This can be done with counseling the inner self as well as nurturing and encouraging for the whole self and their talents/skills. Evaluation and certification, vocational assessments, service planning, placement, postemployment services, and diagnostic workups are all tools at a career counselor’s disposal to positively impact their client’s goals.
Zunker suggests advocacy for the client, “An advocacy role through personal contact with potential employers is an effective manner for building positive attitudes about people with disabilities” (p. 272). Disability is just another form of diversity in our population and siting past success of similar employee issues/challenges to employers is a positive way to assist a client. By assuming an advocacy role, career counselors open themselves up to advocate to the community as well as the client. Proactive practices that open the eyes of the client and community organizations adds value to all. Community education and training programs are a positive step forward because it is a proven tactic to breach and reduce barriers in employment that currently exist (p. 275).
This holistic approach provides the client with positive interaction as well as positive role models. Career counselors should always strive to increase their knowledge and skills about working with individuals with disabilities through training, supervision, education, and expert consultation in order to be highly effective in their client interactions and professional practice (APA, 2015). Through proper conduct and motivation career counselors are very effective to their client and their communities when they “strive to provide a barrier-free physical and communication environment in which clients with disabilities may access psychological services” (APA, 2015).

APA. (2015). Guidelines for assessment of and intervention with persons with disabilities.
American Psychological Association. Retrieved from
Zunker, V.G. (2012). Career counseling; A holistic approach. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole;
Cengage Learning.

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