Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Achieving Employment Goals

Frequently Asked Questions

What about family support when a person has supportive vocational services?

The family can remind the member and/or the vocational services program that they are available to provide moral or tangible support throughout the process. Families can offer to be part of the vocational team. Families can also keep up to date with the employment trends, and vocationally related resources in case their job seeking family member needs more or different services. When the person who is receiving services allows other family members to participate in the planning, to be part of them, there are some ways in which this can be especially valuable.

Family members who know the job seeker best can let the treatment team or the Employment Specialist know their strengths, limitations and best ways to communicate. Emotional support and encouragement are important, even when the family member receiving services does not believe in him or herself. Emotional support and encouragement are also helpful when families are not allowed to be part of the employment services planning. Family members at times know a prospective employer and can help to make the connections or provide the information to the Employment Specialist.

There are creative approaches that family members can help to foster employment goals. One program in New Hampshire developed a team of family members to educate other families about the role of employment, the myths and facts, the resources and the benefits of employment. (NAMI)

What do we do when the family member does not want family involvement in employment services?

When the individual does not want family involvement in treatment or employment plan, the family can simply ask, “What would be helpful?”

Learning the boundaries between underwhelming or overwhelming is a process that takes trial and error and some intuition.

What if my family member gets stuck on the road to employment?

A family member could “park” anywhere along the way because they have lost confidence, lost interest, are depressed, do not know what to do next, or any number of reasons. One particular challenge occurs when the family member has made significant progress such as graduating from an education or training program, then getting “stuck” – unable to move forward into employment.

Family members might be able to provide information about potential resources such as internships without trying to “fix” the situation. Another source of help in moving forward is a peer or a peer group. Good relationship/s that can challenge and also support might be part of the getting unstuck. It could also be a time to focus on wellness activities and feeling better about oneself rather than just having negative thoughts about being “stuck.” (Houde)

What can we do if the necessary services are not available in our area or region?

On an individual basis, you might see if the service is available at a nearby area that your family member can reach and apply for services in that area. You can explore the possibility of the funding agency providing access in another area.

If there is nothing similar or accessible, join other families and advocates to approach the decision-makers about the needed vocational services. Be persistent and carry your message to administrators and legislators. Your family member deserves the supports that are needed to get employment.

What do we do if our family member has completed college but is at a plateau, not moving forward?

Sometimes people in recovery put a great deal of time and effort into an education or training program and then hit a plateau. They are not moving forward to find a job that has meaning to them or that uses the knowledge they have acquired. They may have attended college for 6 or more years, celebrated this accomplishment with friends and family and then hit a “block”.

In the general population of college graduates there is a similar phenomenon. One of the things that seems to help is to have an internship which provides a reference and a real world experience. (Adams)

Career counseling and job placement are services of most college and vocational training programs. It works best if the student is working with those services long before graduation.

State vocational rehabilitation programs may also have their own or contracted job services that can be tapped. If your family member is going to apply for those services, it is best that they apply for services about 6 months before graduation. There may be waiting lists.

Your family member may also want to enroll in one or more of the online job websites which provide daily lists of available jobs (e.g. Indeed or Monster). At this stage information about sources of job leads, help with applications, cover letters and interviews may be needed. Sometimes those supports were in place at a much earlier time but by the time of graduation, a refresher may be needed.

The world of work changes frequently so the job seeker may need to update information and rehearse some of the important skills. During this time of waiting, be patient and try to listen.

Job Search Sites

If your family member needs more direction on where to look, we have compiled this list of job search sites.