​​Chapter 8.03 Contents:

[REVISED: 3/16/23]

  1. Guidance means the counselor gives information and acts as a coordinator and advocate or mediator.

  2. Vocational rehabilitation counseling means assisting the client through appropriate modes of communication to deal effectively with important issues or concerns related to vocational rehabilitation, which differentiates it from other types of counseling.

  3. Counseling techniques may vary based on client needs and counselor approach.

  4. To enable the client (and custodial parents or legal guardians) to comprehend and respond to information being communicated, and make informed VR decisions, in all VR counseling and guidance sessions and planned communications, the counselor shall: 

    1. Use client mode of communication and supplement written information as needed
    1. Use the native language of client with limited English proficiency (to authorize this service, see Chapter 8.07, INTERPRETER, Policy 2)
    1. Use a qualified interpreter for the deaf for client who uses sign language (per P.L. 101-336 Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), unless the counselor is a DRS regional counselor for the deaf (to authorize this service, see Chapter 8.07, INTERPRETER, Policy 1)
    1. Provide support and assistance (for suggestions, see Chapter 1.6, CHOICE, Policy 1) needed by client with a cognitive disability (such as intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, head injury, stroke, etc. or disability as a result of organic brain damage or mental illness or medications, etc.), or client with no experience in making decisions for him or her self, or client with significant impairment in communication skills

  5. All casework communications or contact with, or assistance rendered to, the client should be documented in the case record to give an accurate and complete picture of client-agency staff interaction.  If professional opinions and subjective conclusions are necessary to understand the case, they must be supported by objective data, information from vendor reports or other third parties, client behaviors observed, client spoken words heard, etc. 

  6. At the end of each VR counseling and guidance session, the counselor shall document in a case note in AWARE, at least: the date, counseling issue addressed, any required client or counselor follow-up, and impact of the session on client vocational rehabilitation. If client contact involves service planning, include the opportunity for client informed choice (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.52). From Service status and beyond, include the impact on removing or substantially reducing an impediment to employment or achieving the employment outcome (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.47 (a) (14)) to demonstrate how services provided under the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) substantially contributed to achieving the employment outcome.

  7. VR counseling and guidance issues may include: the vocational rehabilitation (VR) process; roles and responsibilities and expectations of client and counselor; confidentiality and signed informed consent; order of selection; explanation of agency policies, procedures, forms requiring client signature, and counselor decisions affecting the case; consumer right to appeal and avenues; comparable benefits available; assessment of client real and perceived disabilities, functional abilities and limitations and other impediments to employment; client vocational knowledge, skills, and abilities; resources; family support; VR services needed for eligibility assessment and employment goal; client motivation level; planning the client job search or placement; self-disclosure; employer expectations; client salary expectations; job or workplace modification and attitudinal barriers; local job market and occupational growth trends; client relocation, criminal history, and other factors affecting client employment; transportation needed to access VR services; client job performance; accessible primary living quarters; availability of support services and referral to other agencies and programs; client self-advocacy skills; understanding and following medical advice; personal adjustment counseling; progress in job training or work adjustment training, school training grades and graduation requirements; and other issues appropriate to client vocational rehabilitation.  For client legal issues, see Policy 2 of this chapter.

  8. If an individual discloses that they are using a substance, the counselor shall provide counseling and guidance to educate the client so they understand the implications regarding the substance use as it pertains to employment. For example, the individual may disclose that they are using marijuana. The counselor will want to advise the individual that marijuana use remains illegal at the federal level; therefore, the counselor will want to discuss the impact of marijuana use upon federal employment. In addition, employers are permitted to maintain policies and hiring practices that prohibit marijuana use, even when the employee is away from the workplace. Counseling and guidance would include information on Virginia’s occupational and regulatory requirements regarding substance/marijuana use that could affect the denial, revocation, suspension, or restriction of a license, certificate, or registration. For information about Alcohol and Substance Abuse Assessment during Eligibility, See Chapter 4.01 Eligibility, Policy 2: Section A10. For client legal issues, see Policy 2 of this chapter.​

  9. The client may appeal the quality of VR counseling and guidance and assigned counselor (see Chapter 15, APPEALS, Policy 2).

  10. The counselor and client (and custodial parents or legal guardians) shall (per RSA Manual Transmittal (RSA-MT-92-27) maintain a VR counseling and guidance relationship from the Intake and onset of the eligibility assessment throughout the planning and implementation of the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) - except: Delayed status (see 14 below) and Service – I status (see 16 below). The client shall be responsible for:

    1. Working with the counselor to develop a good working relationship
    1. Keeping and being on time for all appointments with the counselor, and notifying the counselor right away if the client cannot keep an appointment
    1. Notifying the counselor about changes that could affect client vocational rehabilitation (such as a change in address, family size, personal injury legal action, other benefits and funding sources, job status, disability or general health, financial situation, support network, etc.)
    1. Asking questions to understand information being communicated and make informed  VR decisions
    1. Being honest about the disability, service needs, and feelings

  11. The client may bring a family member, friend, or advocate to VR meetings. The counselor may require client informed signed consent for anyone other than the custodial parent or legal guardian to participate in a VR meeting.  See Chapter 1.1, CONFIDENTIALITY, Policy 1, Section A2 confidentiality in other situations.

  12. When an issue needs immediate attention, an unplanned VR counseling and guidance session may occur.

  13. During Intake/Onset of Eligibility Assessment.
    The counselor and applicant (and custodial parents or legal guardians) shall (per Federal Register, Vol. 66, No. 11, January 17, 2001 pp 4426 - 4427) be together in one room for a VR counseling and guidance meeting at least once (preferably at Intake) before the eligibility decision is made – to begin eligibility assessment and assist the counselor to determine if the applicant is present in the state and assess whether the applicant requires VR services to achieve an employment outcome. Under special circumstances when identity can be established and eligibility can be determined without an in-person meeting, the counselor may postpone meeting the client until Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) development begins.   VR counseling and guidance at Intake and Application shall include:  voter registration opportunity (per National Voter Registration Act), confidentiality of personal information and conditions for accessing and releasing it (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.38), avenues of appeal (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.57), and opportunities to exercise consumer informed choice (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.52). 

  14. During Eligibility Assessment.
    In Application, Application – E (exceptional circumstances requir​e extra time to obtain documentation) and Application - T (Trial Work Experiences Plan) statuses, VR counseling and guidance shall (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.52) be provided as needed to determine eligibility and service needs and assign Order of Selection priority category. Also, topics may include information not needed to apply or determine client eligibility but will be needed to determine the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) goal and services (such as desired employment goal, medically contraindicated employment goals, student financial aid, Medicaid waivers, criminal background check, felony pre-sentence report/ crime/length of sentence information, etc.); however, this information shall not (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.42 (c)) be used to determine eligibility and the counselor shall not delay the eligibility decision waiting for it.

  15. During Delayed Status. 
    The counselor shall (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.37) provide information and referral to the Workforce Investment System One-Stop (is in OOS Waiting List letter and local One-Stop list attachment), referral to federal and state programs best suited to address client specific employment needs, and limited guidance that does not interfere with staff ability to serve applicants and those clients being served under Order Of Selection (OOS) (for status of whether DARS is on OOS or not, see Chapter 2.2, ORDER, Policy 1).

  16. During IPE Planning and Service statuses.

    1. Upon certifying eligibility, the counselor shall begin or continue VR counseling and guidance and assistance needed to make informed choices in selecting an appropriate IPE goal, vocationally-necessary services, service duration, and providers (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.52). Information shall (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.45) include: providing the Consumer Information on Development of the Employment Plan (RS-4b form), financial policies (such as methods available to procure a VR service, consumer financial participation, comparable benefits, maximum allowances, etc.), and additional information the client requests or the counselor deems necessary. If DRS is operating under Order Of Selection, the counselor provides the Consumer Information on Development of the Employment Plan (RS-4b form) to clients assigned to an open category. The Consumer Information on Development of the Employment Plan (RS-4b form) complies with the client written notification requirement in 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.45(c) and describes the option to develop the IPE with assistance from the DARS VR counselor or other entity set forth in the federal regulation, required IPE elements, availability of assistance to complete the DARS IPE form, consumer rights to appeal, and other mandatory procedures.

    1. All Individualized Plans for Employment shall include VR counseling and guidance. Counselors and clients shall schedule and participate in vocational counseling and guidance sessions at least every 90 days if the primary service is C&G, at least twice a year (preferably at the end of every term) for school training, and as often as needed for other IPEs.

    1. When VR counseling and guidance is the primary IPE service needed, planned sessions should be face-to-face (in-person or via technology at counselor discretion) with date, location and time convenient to both client and counselor. The counselor may offer individual sessions, group sessions, or both.

    1. When training (such as vocational training, work adjustment training (WAT), Supported Employment (SE), Job Coach Training Services (JCTS), On-the-Job Training (OJT), post secondary school, etc.) is the primary IPE service needed, IPE Progress Measures shall include training graduation/completion requirements. VR counseling and guidance shall include emphasis on training-related issues and client responsibilities. For school training cases, VR counseling and guidance shall include attendance, grades, progress towards graduation requirements, financial status, next semester schedule, and other issues such as classroom accommodation, referral to campus disability services office, etc.

    1. When rehabilitation technology or physical or mental restoration service is the primary IPE service needed, VR counseling and guidance shall include issues such as following medical advice and treatment or recovery program, length of treatment, projected date of return to work, work restrictions, information available on service provider, comparable benefits, billing procedures, and other issues such as necessary child care and housekeeping arrangements.

    1. All Individualized Plans for Employment shall (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.46(a)(5)) include criteria used to evaluate progress towards achieving the employment goal. When VR counseling and guidance is the primary IPE service needed, progress measures shall include specific counseling issues that remove or substantially reduce the impediments to employment and the expected changes.

      Examples of VR Counseling and Guidance Progress Measures (measurable, attainable, SFL-related, specific):

      Example 1 - SFL: self-care, Progress measure: Learn effective job interview skills measured in mock interviews by demonstrating appropriate eye contact and responses to common interview questions.

      Example 2  - SFL: self-care, Progress measure: Improve personal hygiene and appearance at job interviews.  This will be measured through client self-report, counselor observation, and feedback to counselor from employer interviewers and job placement counselor.

      Example 3 - SFL: interpersonal skills, Progress measure: Acquire understanding and acceptance of functional limitations of disability, know what accommodations are needed and why, become an effective self-advocate. This will be measured through client self-report, counselor observations, and feedback to counselor from service provider regarding demonstrated positive attitude about abilities.

      Example 4 - SFL: interpersonal skills, Progress measure: Interact appropriately with service providers, supervisor, and co-workers in one-on-one and group situations. This will be measured through feedback to counselor from job coach and employer.

      Example 5 - SFL: self-direction, Progress measure: Learn how to use checklists, alarm watch, and other compensatory strategies to assist in satisfactory completion of job-related duties. This will be measured through vendor reporting to counselor on completion of required job tasks within an acceptable time frame.

      Example 6 - SFL: self-direction,
      Progress Measure: Abstain from alcohol or drugs or any substances not currently prescribed by a physician familiar with the alcohol/substance abuse diagnosis. No services subject to consumer financial participation will be authorized until client has demonstrated abstention for at least [enter appropriate time period]. This will be measured through the treatment records or consulting with the case manager on an ongoing basis [use if individual is involved in treatment] and counselor observations of arrival time for appointments [add other behaviors consistent with abstinence].
      Progress measure: Client agrees to voluntarily participate in a treatment program or support group (however, DRS shall not pay for treatment). This will be measured through attendance.
      Progress measure: Client agrees to meet with the counselor at least twice a month for VR counseling sessions during the first [enter appropriate time period] consecutive days of this IPE. This will be measured through attendance at scheduled VR counseling sessions. 

      Progress Measure (Participating in an Individual Placement and Support Program): I will work with my treatment team and IPS Employment Specialist to develop a plan to be sober at work.  I will utilize this plan and follow recommendations of my treatment team, utilize healthy coping strategies to manage triggers and cravings. I will be open and honest with my team about progress and make changes to my plan as needed to improve success/progress. This will be measured through self-report, treatment team report, IPS Employment Specialist report, case staffing and continued employment.

      Progress Measure (Participating in an Individual Placement and Support Program): I will work with my case manager, VR Counselor and/or Benefits Counselor to develop and utilize a plan to manage extra income once I start working to reduce temptation for drug use/alcohol consumption. This will be evidenced by self-report, review of budget/plan and treatment team report.

  17. During Service – I status.
    For scope of services, see Chapter 5, PLAN, Policy 1.  For case progress note requirement, see Policy 3 of this chapter.  

  18. During Employed status.
    The counselor shall continue to provide VR counseling and guidance. At least one VR counseling and guidance interaction with the client (or representative with a signed consent form) shall occur during the ten day period preceding the Closed - Rehabilitated Date in order to (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.56(c)): reach agreement that the employment outcome is satisfactory and the client is performing well in the employment, to discuss case closure, and to inform the client of the availability of post employment services (PES). If the counselor is not able to maintain contact with the client following job placement, the counselor must document in the case record the reason(s) and attempts. For supported employment (SE) cases, the counselor must ensure that the entity that will fund the long term follow along support services after VR case closure is aware of the pending case closure and discontinuation of VR time-limited SE services. For clients needing personal assistance services (PAS) after VR case closure, during Employed status a referral to state-funded PAS may be appropriate (see Chapter 8.13, PAS).

  19. Addressing Abusive or Threatening Behaviors by Individuals
    The Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) is committed to the prevention of workplace violence and harassment and maintaining civility in the workplace. DARS will comply with the Department of Human Resource Management's Policy 2.35 - Civility in the Workplace, which applies not only to employees, applicants, and contractors but also to customers, clients, and other third parties in the workplace. Third parties include customers, clients, students, interns, vendors, contractors, volunteers, applicants for employment or services, and the public. 

    Per DHRM Policy 2.35, workplace violence is any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse occurring in the workplace by third parties. Threatening behaviors create a reasonable fear of injury to another person or damage to property or subject another individual to extreme emotional distress. 

    DRS is committed to promoting and maintaining a safe workplace and service-delivery environment. When DRS staff believe that a third party poses a clear and immediate threat of serious violence, they should notify law enforcement immediately. See Chapter 1.1 Confidentiality, Policy 1: A2 Disclosure to Third Parties​, regarding the release of confidential client data to third parties.  Workplace violence, including profane, abusive, or threatening verbal or written statements or behaviors, could result in delay or termination of VR services. Applicants or clients shall receive counseling and guidance about their responsibilities to act appropriately during the vocational rehabilitation process. When the individual is an applicant or client, the threat or act of workplace violence shall be documented in the case record. 

    ​​Guidance – Applicants and clients shall be provided counseling and guidance about acceptable workplace behaviors and interpersonal skills being critical for employment success and the requirement for acting appropriately with their counselors, DARS staff, service providers, employers, and other consumers. 

    Guidance – If appropriate, accommodations may be considered if the applicant or client has exhibited workplace violence. Examples may include having additional staff present when the applicant or client is present in the office or utilizing virtual service delivery.  It is always appropriate to provide the client or applicant information about the Client Assistance Program (CAP).

[REVISED: 4/1/14]

Counselors assigned to Workers Compensation cases must meet qualifications in the Workers Compensation Act. See Chapter 2.1, APPLICATION, Policy 1, Section A1.

  1. When DARS is not a party in the legal dispute, it may be appropriate to discuss the impact of the legal issues (such as personal injury law suit, felony conviction as an adult, denial of state occupational certification, ineligibility for student financial aid, revoked driver license, eligibility to work in the U.S., etc.) on client vocational rehabilitation with the client (or custodial parents, legal guardians, or client representative with client informed signed consent).

  2. Consult the supervisor or Policy and Planning staff in DARS Central Office when in doubt about the propriety of discussing the impact of other legal issues on client (such as child support, custody, bankruptcy, housing eviction, etc.).

  3. DRS staff shall not discuss a legal case if DARS is a party in the legal dispute (including but not limited to court case to appeal final VR hearing decision; claims with DDS for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Medicaid benefits; discrimination complaints; client injury or property damage involving DARS or the service provider, adult protective services investigation, etc.)

  4. For response to subpoena, judicial order, or law enforcement, see Chapter 1.1, CONFIDENTIALITY, Policy 1, Section A2.

[REVISED: 9/16/21]

  1. All DRS staff casework efforts should be documented in the client case record to give a complete and accurate picture of the comparable benefits search, service coordination activities, information and referral services, services and assistance rendered by DRS staff, etc.

  2. As often as necessary, but at least every 90 days (per agency)  the case remains in Application - T (Trial Work Experiences), the counselor shall (per 2016 Federal egulation 34 CFR § 361.47(a)(5)) review the assessment results and document the results in the case record, and shall (per agency) justify in a case note why the eligibility decision has not been made.

  3. To ensure the client is receiving services appropriately, once the counselor certifies eligibility the counselor shall justify in a case note every 90 days why keeping the case in the same status (including Service – I and PES statuses) is appropriate. This does not apply to:

    1. Cases in Delayed status; for casework see Chapter 2.2, ORDER, Policy 2

    2. School training cases in Service status; a copy of the school term grades is sufficient to track progress. 

    3. Self employment enterprises (SEEs) in Employed status; the business progress review schedule is established case-by-case (see Chapter 8.17, SELF EMPLOYMENT, Policy 1).

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4. School IEP Meetings

[REVISED: 10/1/13]

The VR Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) for a student receiving special education services shall (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.46 (d)) be coordinated with the secondary (junior high or high) school Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals, objectives, and services. The counselor is not required to attend school IEP meetings until the school or custodial parent or legal guardian invites the counselor to attend a meeting to develop the Transition Plan component of the IEP for a student (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR 361.48(a)(4)).