Substance Abuse Counselor Certification and Training Programs

Substance abuse counselors are licensed mental health professionals who help individuals struggling with addictions. Learn the education requirements and certification options for this profession. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Training Will I Need To Work as a Substance Abuse Counselor?

In order to become a substance abuse counselor, you first need to earn your bachelor's degree in counseling; however, a master's degree is a common requirement for licensure. Substance abuse and addiction counseling are specialty areas that generally require certification once you have completed the required training through your undergraduate or graduate degree program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) substance abuse counselors may not be ruled by the same government agencies as other counselors, which means educational requirements vary and you may only need certification and a high school diploma.

Program Levels Master's degree
Common Courses Addiction counseling, counseling history, group counseling techniques, medical training related to addiction
Job Duties Leading discussion groups, patient meetings, uncovering the causes of addiction, counseling family members of patients, teaching addiction mitigation strategies
Certification Options CRCC and NBCC certification is available

What Courses Would I Take In A Degree Program?

Most degree programs for potential or existing substance abuse counselors combine the history, treatment and prevention of drug and alcohol abuse into the curriculum. Basic counseling practices, such as group counseling techniques, are paired with psychological and medical training regarding addiction.

For example, a class such as contemporary drug abuse issues may be offered at the same time as a psychiatric rehabilitation class. Students may also be required to log experience hours outside the classroom or make a certain area, such as alcoholism, their focus of study. Classes will vary for you at both the master's and doctoral degree levels as well.

What Does a Substance Abuse Counselor Do?

Your job duties as a substance abuse counselors may change daily, but can include meetings with patients, counseling family members and leading prevention discussion groups. Meetings are typically held daily or weekly and you may work one-on-one with your clients or in a group. In addition to helping your clients with their addiction or behavioral disorder, you will also be responsible for helping them learn new ways to handle problems and stress, as well as help uncover the root causes of their addiction.

How Do I Earn Certification?

You can find certification options for substance abuse counselors through several organizations, such as the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). The NBCC offers a Master Addictions Counselor certification that can be earned if you meet all educational and training requirements, while the CRCC offers the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor designation.

While exact requirements vary depending on the program you choose, both programs require that you are currently enrolled in or have completed a master's degree program in rehabilitation counseling, substance abuse counseling or a similar counseling area. You may also need proof of supervised employment hours or logged hours in a supervisory position.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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