Achieving Employment Goals


My family member wants to get professional support for the Vocational Process. Where might we look for help?

The answer is determined in part by what your family member needs and in part by what is available in your area. The most widespread services are the America’s Job Centers workforce training and placement (serve all populations), the Vocational Rehabilitation agencies providing any service needed to achieve employment (serve all disabilities) and the state Departments of Mental Health (serve those with mental health conditions only). Local mental health centers or private rehabilitation agencies can be very helpful in identifying services. Veterans have their own services, federal, state and private, but at times can utilize the state funded programs.

  • America’s Job Centers are located in all states and serve the general population including people with disabilities. They have resources including tests, software, workshops and individual counseling to help customers to choose. They have a small staff in relation to the number of people they serve so someone has to be reasonably independent.
  • The Vocational Rehabilitation and the Dept. of Mental Health and its affiliate agencies typically provide some services of their own and then contract out a majority of their services to nonprofit agencies such as those that provide Supported Employment or Rehabilitation-oriented Clubhouses (ICCD). There are some non publicly supported private rehabilitation agencies that offer vocational services but they are rare. State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies offer the an array of assessment, job development, training and many other supports. They also have a separate program of Supported Employment (not necessarily part of a clinical team although it is in some states). The VR agencies can also provide on the job training and some have well developed employer development services.
  • Supported Employment (IPS model) programs are usually part of a clinical team with a holistic approach but the SE program itself is not equipped to work with people when they are just thinking about working and not really ready to work. They do an excellent job of getting employment very quickly and use the job as a place to determine if the person needs other supports or other options.
  • Clubhouses, on the other hand will work with someone from beginning to end and the employment steps usually begin with part time and temporary employment and then work through to permanent competitive employment. At times the clubhouses may collaborate with another program in order to get the
    choosing resources that someone needs when entering competitive employment. (Clubhouse International)
  • The Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Administration offer employment services in many different programs for veterans both on and off the hospital campuses. In some cases they would have the resources to help individual veterans to explore employment possibilities and types of employment to consider.
  • For career exploration, O-Net Online provides career information across all industries.
  • The Social Security Administration also offers vocational services tailored to the individual through its Ticket to Work program. A list of potential providers is sent to SSI recipients encouraging them to select an employment service provider. They are keyed according to whether they can service persons with mental health conditions. (Employment Networks in the Ticket to Work program)

Once your family member has identified the professional Employment Specialist or other professional that is going to be the primary vocational supporter, the quality of their relationship will be critical. “A rehabilitation alliance occurs when there is mutual respect, trust and seriousness of purpose… for coordinated treatment- rehabilitation programming”. The alliance includes the job seeker, the rehabilitation professional and other members of the team. (McCrory)

PDF Getting to Work: Promoting Employment of People with Mental Illness

A guide published by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. It details the general desire of people with mental illness to enter the workforce, and explains the functions and benefits of supported employment.


Return to List of Questions


How can I help my family member…

Think About Work
Find a Path to Employment
Achieve Employment Goals
Keep a Job

Repository of Employment & Vocational Recovery Resources