Substance Abuse And Behavioral Disorder Counselor

Best Online Addiction Counseling Programs Of 2022

Practice Demonstration – Substance Abuse Counseling

Many online substance abuse counseling programs offer an asynchronous course structure. This can allow you to pursue a degree while gaining clinical experience. Here are our 10 favorite programs. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Job Outlook For Substance Abuse Behavioral Disorder And Mental Health Counselors

Employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to grow 23 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 41,000 openings for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

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Education For Substance Abuse Behavioral Disorder And Mental Health Counselors

Most substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on the state and employer, educational requirements for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree. Workers with psychology, clinical social work, mental health counseling, and similar master’s degrees can provide more services to their clients, such as private one-on-one counseling sessions, and they require less supervision than those with less education. Those interested should research their state’s educational requirements.

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How To Become A Counselor

A substance abuse counselor holds a position of power and trust in their patients lives. So becoming one requires rigorous training and qualifications. This involves getting your addiction counseling certificate.

There are several different boards to get your certification from in California. These include:

  • The Addiction Counselors Certification Board of California
  • The California Association of DUI Treatment Programs
  • The California Association for Drug/Alcohol Educators

In order to start your training, you need to meet a bunch of requirements. This includes your educational background and personal background, but the requirements vary depending on which state you want to practice in.

You must have graduated from high school before enrolling in a college degree scheme. From here, you will receive the appropriate training and certification. Different certificates or colleges may also ask for specific grades or subjects.

If you already have a bachelors or masters degree, you still need certificate training to become a counselor. This involves further training in a certification arena, which will provide you with specific skills for the job.

Anyone who wants to work in private practice counseling must have a masters degree. Working in private practice means you will have less supervision over your work, so you require more education. Masters degrees in mental health or psychology can be beneficial for counselors.

Licenses Certifications And Registrations

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in private practice must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require these counselors to have a masters degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors must pass a state-issued exam and complete continuing education every year. Contact information for your state’s regulating board can be found through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

The licensure criteria for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors outside of private practice vary from state to state. For example, not all states require applicants to have a specific degree, but many require them to pass an exam. Contact information for individual states licensing boards can be found through the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network.

All states require mental health counselors to be licensed, after completing a period of postdegree supervised clinical work under the supervision of a licensed counselor.

Obtain An Associates Or Bachelors Degree

While a degree is not required in every state for a career as a substance abuse counselor, it can help aspiring professionals obtain more advanced certification or licensure and with job advancement. The most commonly earned degree for this field is addiction counseling, although degrees such as psychology, counseling, chemical dependency counseling, and other behavioral sciences can suffice. Some states require specific coursework, so students should check with their local board to learn the requirements.

Students should ensure the program they attend is accredited, as most states wont accept degrees from unaccredited institutions. The program should be regionally accredited by an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education . Completing a program accredited by an entity such as the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission is required in some states.

Qualities Of A Good Substance Abuse Counselor

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Withstanding the emotional burden of substance abuse counseling isnt the only quality you need.

Any good counselor needs to be able to listen patiently to their patients. They should take the time to think and speak constructively in response to their patients.

This requires a lot of compassion and empathy. Addiction can sometimes feel like a foreign land for some people, and reasoning doesnt always work.

This means that the work can often be frustrating. Empathizing with someone going through addiction recovery is essential. This usually requires a good helping of patience.

Substance abuse counselors work with patients to help them with their addiction, but theyre also responsible for a lot of administrative work. Maintaining accurate records is a part of the role.

Finally, anyone becoming a counselor should be aware that this isnt your standard nine to five job. You dont always clock off when you leave the office at the end of the day.

Not only can the emotional stress of the day come with you, but you might also have to work evenings or weekends. After all, people suffering from addiction dont just shut it off at the end of the day!

Most counselors work with multiple patients. And working at a rehabilitation center or in your private practice often requires you to be on call for patients.

That said, being a substance abuse counselor is a gratifying role for anyone who does it. You get the opportunity to change lives for the better or to save them entirely!

What Substance Abuse Behavioral Disorder And Mental Health Counselors Do

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.

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Substance Abuse And Behavioral Disorder Counselor Work Environment

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors often work in a normal mental health care environment such as a hospital or clinic. They often work individually with patients and in groups, and rely heavily on their communicative skills throughout the course of their day. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors might work regular hours during business days or they might work variable hours or evenings depending on the type of facility they work for. Private practice counselors often work in an office of their own choosing, and might set their own hours as well.

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Substance Abuse And Behavioral Disorder Counselors

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  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor
  • Chemical Dependency Counselor
  • Chemical Dependency Professional
  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist
  • Prevention Specialist
  • Act as liaisons between clients and medical staff.
  • Assess individuals’ degree of drug dependency by collecting and analyzing urine samples.
  • Attend training sessions to increase knowledge and skills.
  • Complete and maintain accurate records or reports regarding the patients’ histories and progress, services provided, or other required information.
  • Conduct chemical dependency program orientation sessions.
  • Advocate for individual or community needs.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to assess client needs or plan treatments.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to develop education or assistance programs.
  • Confer with family members to discuss client treatment plans or progress.
  • Behavioral Health Specialist
  • Behavioral Health Technician
  • Drug and Alcohol Counselor Intern
  • Medical Service Corps Officer

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Prepare Your Cover Letter And Resume

Using the information you find in listings for open jobs, develop a resume and cover letter that highlight your most compelling qualifications. Be sure to use keywords from each position you apply for, because many employers use software technology to screen applications before they are seen by a hiring manager. Try to tailor your materials to each position you apply for to show interest in the role and attention to detail.

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Apply For Certificate Or Licensure

Once degree, education, work experience, and examination requirements have been met, candidates may apply to their local board for certification or licensure. Processing time can vary widely and applicants must wait to practice as a substance abuse counselor until they have received notification of approval.

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Do You Have A Substance Abuse Issue

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What Do Counselors Do

These mental health professionals help clients navigate a wide range of behavioral disorders and substance abuse issues and often obtain specialized certification to do so. Dual certification in behavioral disorders and substance abuse allows for a wide range of flexibility when searching for job opportunities. However, the demand is high for counselors with any state accepted certification.

In general, counselors work with their clients to:

  • Evaluate treatment needs
  • Identify behaviors standing in the way of successful treatment
  • Learn techniques to better adapt to stressful situations
  • Develop treatment plans
  • Set obtainable goals

Behavioral disorder, substance abuse, and mental health counselors may work either one-on-one with clients or in group settings. In order to best treat their clients, counselors may work closely with psychiatrists, physicians, nurse practitioners, or social workers. Counselors may also refer patients to more intensive inpatient facilities or monitored outpatient programs if a patient is in crisis. They do not prescribe or recommend medications.

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Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

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Important Skills For Substance Abuse Counselors

Substance abuse counseling can be a challenging field that requires patience and compassion. Some important qualities that a substance abuse counselor should have include:

  • Listening skills: Active listening is an important ability for anyone in the mental health field. People may not always be forthcoming, so knowing how to listen and put yourself in their position can be helpful. Listening without judgment can help clients feel heard, understood, and supported.
  • Empathy: Those struggling with addiction often cope with a lack of social support, particularly if their substance use has played a role in alienating friends and family. Empathizing and offering support can play an important part in addiction recovery.
  • Patience: Recovery from substance use rarely follows a straight path, so counselors must be ready to support clients as they deal with setbacks, obstacles, and relapses.

All of these qualities play a role in developing what is known as the therapeutic relationship or the working alliance between a mental health professional and a client. This relationship, which involves a bond of respect, trust, and mutual collaboration, can play an important part in successful substance use disorder treatment.

What Can I Expect From An Online Bachelor’s In Addiction Counseling Program

During online bachelor’s in addiction counseling programs, students gain foundational knowledge in addiction treatments, case management, and psychopharmacology. They also develop soft skills like listening, communication, and empathy.

Most bachelor’s in addiction and substance use disorder counseling programs require students to complete around 120 credits. Learners can graduate in four years of full-time study. However, online students can take longer if they enroll part time. Most programs blend core coursework with research and internship opportunities to gain experience in the field.

Most bachelor’s in addiction programs are concentrations within broader programs in fields like counseling, sociology, or psychology. As such, these programs usually do not offer further specialization options.

Work Environment About This Section

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors held about 327,500 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors were as follows:

Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 18%
Government 9

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors work in a wide variety of settings, including mental health centers, prisons, probation or parole agencies, and juvenile detention facilities. They also work in halfway houses, detox centers, or in employee assistance programs . EAPs are mental health programs provided by some employers to help employees deal with personal problems.

Some addiction counselors work in residential treatment centers, where clients live in the facility for a fixed period of time. Others work with clients in outpatient treatment centers. Some counselors work in private practice, where they may work alone or with a group of counselors or other professionals.

Although rewarding, the work of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is often stressful. Many counselors have to deal with large workloads. They do not always have enough resources to meet the demand for their services. Also, they may have to intervene in crisis situations or work with agitated clients, which can be difficult.

Substance Abuse And Behavioral Disorder Counselor Salary

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Depending on the context, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors can earn a successful living and enjoy stable job prospects. Substance abuse counselors, for example, earn a national average salary of $59,007 per year. General behavioral health professionals earn a national average salary of $44,760 per year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , a government agency that compiles and analyzes employment data, the substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counseling profession is projected to grow by 25% between 2019 and 2029 and add 79,000 jobs.

Salary and career search outcomes are likely to vary depending on factors such as location, facility type and provider specialty. Be sure to research specific information for the location where you plan to work as part of your career search preparation process.

Meet With Family Members To Provide Guidance

For family and friends of patients in recovery, addressing the addiction is one of the most difficult aspects of helping loved ones recover. Inadvertently, daily interactions with loved ones can enable the addict, and many family members choose to ignore the problem out of fear that their loved ones will be pushed away by the confrontation.

As such, during addiction therapy treatment, its important that family be well informed of how to handle their family members addiction moving forward. Counselors can help patients families in a variety of ways, from mediating family therapy sessions, to helping them locate a support group.5

The support of friends and family plays an integral role in recovering from addiction. Since recovery is a lifelong journey, having supportive family members who understand the process is of profound importance. Family members who are informed about addiction recovery can greatly increase chances of success throughout the recovery process, and in some cases can help keep addicts accountable. Substance abuse counselors can help families understand the complex road to recovery, and offer support for the difficult journey ahead.

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