Going beyond vocational rehabilitation as a training of skills: return-to-work as an identity issue

L.B.E. van Hal*, A. Meershoek, A. de Rijk, F. Nijhuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In western welfare states, labour participation is increasingly considered a vital aspect of taking part in society. Vocational rehabilitation programmes are intended to support people in the process of returning to work. These programmes pay much attention to the skills that clients need to develop in order to return to work. We argue, however, that vocational rehabilitation is more than the acquirement of skills, and that further attention should be paid to clients' 'identity work' processes. Based on 45 life-stories, we present an analysis of the identity work expressed by people with a work disability in the Netherlands. We describe 'separative', 'integrative', and 'pending' processes of identity work. The presented typology can help vocational rehabilitation professionals become more sensitive to clients' processes, and supports more inclusive vocational rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-93
JournalDisability & Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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