Skills for Success

To succeed in graduate programs within the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling, it is important not only to succeed in academic courses, but to learn from experience as well. Success requires an ability to learn.

Students are encouraged to reach beyond what is expected. Pervasive throughout the program is the expectation of excellence. Theoretical knowledge and practical skills in counseling are basic expectations. Students are encouraged to explore the profession through professional growth opportunities and professional/student organizations. Students should actively engage in ongoing conversation with faculty, including their faculty adviser, throughout their course of study. All students are continually evaluated throughout their program on personal and professional standards.

In addition to the basic skills necessary for success in a graduate program, it is important for prospective student to be aware of other skills needed to be an effective counselor. As described in the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET OnLine, the following skills and abilities are necessary. ‌independently, think critically and integrate ideas, rather than just memorizing facts. Similarly, students in our programs must be able to learn from their clinical experiences and respond effectively to supervisory feedback.


  • Active listening – Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate and not interrupting at inappropriate times
  • Social perceptiveness – Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do
  • Critical thinking – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems
  • Service orientation – Actively looking for ways to help people
  • Active learning – Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem solving and decision making
  • Learning strategies – Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things
  • Speaking – Talking to others to convey information effectively
  • Time management – Managing one’s own time and the time of others
  • Reading comprehension – Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents
  • Monitoring – Monitoring/assessing performance of yourself, other individuals or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action


  • Oral expression – The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand
  • Oral comprehension – The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences
  • Problem sensitivity – The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong; it does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem
  • Speech clarity – The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you
  • Inductive reasoning – The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events)
  • Deductive reasoning – The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense
  • Speech recognition – The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person
  • Written comprehension – The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing
  • Written expression – The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand
  • Near vision – The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer)

Note: For some of these skills and abilities, reasonable accommodations may be used to enable people with disabilities to achieve them. For example, a deaf counselor may actively “listen” through the use of sign language; a person who is blind may use assistive technology to “see” written details.