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How To Become An Addiction Therapist

What Is A Substance Abuse Counselor

What is Addiction Counseling? How to Become an Addiction Counselor.

A substance abuse counselor is vital when it comes to recovering from addiction. They support recovery in a variety of ways.

Counselors can work in lots of places, including hospitals, clinics, prisons, and rehabilitation centers. Some also choose to work privately.

Counseling is an essential part of recovery from addiction. There are many different ways to approach it, and all counselors have the same goal: to help you on your path to recovery.

One of the key areas they focus on is changing patterns in the addicts behavior. This is vital for anyone trying to break the cycle of addiction.

They teach patients essential coping strategies and life skills to use when recovering. In this way, they offer their patients practical support and give them someone to talk to.

This is a highly challenging role, as breaking free from addiction is often a stressful and emotional journey. This impacts both the patient and their counselor throughout the process. So anyone working as a substance abuse counselor has to process these emotions healthy and proactively.

Do I Need A Masters To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor

Most states offer options for certification or licensure as a substance abuse counselor at the associates and bachelors degree levels, meaning that a masters degree is not strictly required. However, with a masters degree, you will typically qualify for a higher level of licensure due to the higher level of substance abuse counselor training that this degree represents, which can expand your career opportunities as well as increase your earnings potential.

What Is An Addiction Psychiatrist

An addiction psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating people with addictive and mental health issues primarily with medicines such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and medications that help to treat underlying mental health conditions and comorbid issues. While there are many psychiatrists who dont prescribe medications much and focus primarily on therapy instead, most psychiatrists manage medications and work closely with psychologists and other therapists who will provide the talk therapy treatment. Subsequent psychiatric appointments following an evaluation tend to be short, about 20- to 25-minute med checks they are mostly concerned with how a person is adjusting to a drug regimen, minimizing side effects, and gauging effectiveness.

Most importantly, an addiction psychiatrist has special training in prescribing medications to help individuals who are struggling with their substance use. It is important to work with an addiction psychiatrist and not just a general psychiatrist when you are trying to determine the nature of your relationship with drugs and alcohol and considering making behavioral changes. An addiction psychiatrist can prescribe medications to help you detox or withdraw from drug and alcohol use, and they can also prescribe medications to help you with cravings, which could avert relapse.

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How Can You Become An Addiction Counselor

To become an addiction counselor, you usually need a degree in mental health or addiction counseling. Depending on the state and the employer, you may need to have an addiction counselor certification after high school in lieu of a bachelors degree.

But some states and employers may require a bachelors and masters degree in addiction counseling or a related field. Addiction counselors working in private practice must have a masters degree. .

Art Therapy Education As A Marriage And Family Therapist

Importance of Addiction Counseling in Treatment

Becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist requires earning a masters in marriage and family therapy. Just as with the counseling path, a specialty accreditation is important, but youll need one from COAMFTE, the Commission on Accreditation in Marriage and Family Therapy Education instead.

LMFTs view mental health issues through the lens of social and relationship connections. They work on tracing trauma and disruption through a patients relationships, and may work with both the patient and their family members to improve those relationships and the clients overall mental health.

Not all LMFT degrees offer art therapist concentrations, so finding those that do will narrow your choices quickly. In those that do, youll find coursework such as:

  • Family origins
  • Counseling individuals in the family system
  • Group therapy techniques
  • Psychodiagnostics and treatment planning

Should you consider online MFT programs or online LPC programs for your art therapy career? Thats entirely up to you! Online education is becoming more and more common, and you will find plenty of degree options in both counseling and therapy.

These degrees are more challenging for art therapy than more traditional therapy programs, however. So if the flexibility of an online degree sounds appealing, definitely check out the provisions for your required arts courses on top of the more mainstream classes on your schedule.

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What Is A Certified Addiction Counselor

Well, generally-speaking, a certified addiction counselor is a mental health professional that provides counseling services, and support to recovering alcoholics and addicts . The primary goals of a certified addiction counselor is to help addicts work through their issues so they can attain and maintain a drug-free existence.

Certified addiction counselors work in a: group home, hospital, treatment facility, clinic, private doctors office, prison, and half-way house. They may work with clients individually, and in group settings. It is important to note that some substance abuse and addiction treatment facilities hire former addicts, who have maintained sobriety for a certain amount of time, to counsel active addicts through the withdrawal and treatment process.

These addiction counselors are not really counselors because they have not received formal training or experience in the counseling field, however, they are considered addiction coaches and addiction mentors, that provide a safe, place for addicts to work out their problems, and talk with someone, who has experienced the throes of addiction.

Both certified addiction counselors and addiction coaches/mentors can make a tremendous difference in the life of someone, who is suffering from an addiction. To become a certified addiction counselor, you will need to earn a bachelor degree and a masters degree in addiction counseling or a related field, and obtain a license and/or certified in the field.

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Where Does An Addiction Therapist Work

Addiction therapists work in many environments including hospitals, residential treatment centers, prisons, probation offices, and juvenile detention centers. Patients can be a challenge as they struggle, many times unsuccessfully, with their addictions. Addiction therapists must be ready to work with return patients while creating a safe, non-threatening environment for their patients.

Do I Need A Masters In Order To Earn A Phd In Counseling

Understanding Addiction Counselor Certification

The degree required for admission to a PhD program varies. Some programs only admit those who already have a masters in a counseling-related discipline or equivalent formal substance abuse counselor training these programs tend to focus more heavily on research and theory. Other programs will consider applicants who have a bachelors degree these programs will likely include a deeper focus on counseling practice and may qualify the graduate for first-time counseling licensure.

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Graduate From High School Or Complete A Ged

All substance abuse counselor certificates and licenses require applicants to graduate high school . Students who want to pursue this career can start their education while still in high school by focusing on classes such as psychology, social sciences, biology, English, and math. Work experience can be gained as well by volunteering in the substance abuse counseling field.

How To Become An Addiction Counselor Helping Patients

Drug and alcohol abuse are not going away. In fact, this public health scourge is only getting worse as we struggle through the midst of the Opioid epidemic, which has brought narcotic addiction to even the most rural areas. To add to the problem, many turned or are turning to alcohol to help them cope with anxieties related to recent quarantines and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Sadly, these problems are not likely to go away any time soon. To combat addiction, substance abuse counselors are hearing the call.

For those who wish to become substance abuse counselors, there are more and more opportunities to train and become licensed. States are licensing professionals with two-year degrees all the way through to those with a doctoral diploma. Thus, for those who wish to answer the call to help heal the millions trapped in the morass of addiction, keep reading and learn how to become a substance abuse counselor.

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Personality Traits Of An Addiction Therapist

The attitude of a client is closely related with how they have arrived at a treatment facility. It has been found that patients that are placed in recovery due to a court order may be more difficult to invoke change. The best results have been found with patients that come on their own free will. To change ones attitude and perspective on life can be a very lonely, painful process, and requires complete dedication on an addicts part. In order to recover, an addict must be willing to share their most personal thoughts and feelings with a counselor. It is not uncommon for a patient to develop a strong affinity for a counselor that might be interpreted as love. This is a psychological phenomenon known as transference. Transference is defined as, the displacement of parental love to a maternal or paternal figure. Substance abuse counselors are bound by ethical laws to maintain a professional relationship with their clients. This job requires a professional to be assertive and compassionate while setting healthy boundaries and limits. It also requires self management and motivation.

What Does A Substance Abuse Counselor Degree Involve

Become a Substance Abuse Counselor

Training as a substance abuse counselor combines education with on-the-job or clinical experience. After all, you need to know how to put your skills into practice.

You will learn the fundamentals of counseling. These include understanding counseling ethics, professionalism, and patient confidentiality laws. This also involves learning how counseling works in different settings, such as in prison, recovery centers, or private practice.

The program will also teach you about how addiction works. To understand this, you will study influencing factors in addiction, such as socioeconomic status. And you will learn about the relationship between substance abuse and the brain.

In addition to this, youll also learn vital practical skills for being a counselor. These include:

  • Communication techniques to use with patients and their families or friends
  • Crisis response procedures
  • Different types of addiction treatment
  • Strategies for preventing relapse
  • Different types of counseling
  • How to develop your personal and professional skills
  • Understanding counseling services

Bringing together and combining these skills makes a successful and effective substance abuse counselor. You will need to identify different types of addiction in people who dont understand them and offer the appropriate treatment.

Learning effective communication techniques is critical. Its something youll get the opportunity to observe and then apply into practice yourself regularly.

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Substance Abuse Counselor Job Outlook

Employment for substance abuse counselors is projected to rise by 23 percent, or 23,800 new jobs, through 2026, the BLS reports. Several factors will contribute to the increased demand:

  • More states are making a push to provide counseling and treatment to drug offenders rather than sentence them to jail time or prison.
  • The continued fight against prescription pain relievers and other drugs, including heroin and fentanyl. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the economic burden of prescription opioid abuse is more than $78.5 billionannually.
  • Improved access to treatment centers and recovery services for drug abusers.

Job prospects are expected to be best for substance abuse counselors with bachelors and masters degrees, the BLS notes. Although advances in pain management practices, new research into pain and addiction, and the production of non-addictive medications and technologies could eventually ease demand for substance abuse counselors, these developments are in their early stages and have not had any significant impact on the nations need for trained substance abusecounselors.

Cacrep Accredited Online Certification

Two types of substance abuse counselor accreditation are recognized in the United States institutional substance abuse counseling and specialized substance abuse counseling. Institutional substance abuse counseling accreditation takes the entire institution into account while the specialized substance abuse counseling focus on professional preparation programs. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs is a specialized accreditation that focuses on masters and doctoral degree programs in counseling at colleges and universities worldwide. Only already-accredited institutions are eligible for CACREP review. The review for accreditation will center on programs offering graduate degrees in counseling.

Choosing a CACREP-accredited program ensures that the program meets the highest of quality standards. Many counseling specialties are accredited bythe CACREP, including addiction counseling. Accredited addiction counseling programs prepare individuals to work with those affected by addictive behavior and their families. Addictive behaviors include alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, and anything else that negatively affects your personal or work life by creating addiction behaviors.

Board of professional substance abuse counselors

Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Social Workers Advisory Committee


  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor

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How To Find And Choose The Right Addiction Therapist

Congratulations! Youve made one of the best decisions you can make: asking for help. Whether youve decided to get help to control or moderate your use of alcohol or substances, or whether youve decided you want to be entirely abstinent, or whether you just want to explore the role that addiction might play in connection to an underlying depression, anxiety, stress, or self-esteem issue, you are being proactive in trying to find someone who can help you. Acknowledging that you need help is never easy, but its one of the best things you can do for yourself. Finding the right addiction therapist is just as important as making the decision to get help.

Before determining whether the treatment provider is expert enough, you have to decide what type of practitioner you would like to consult. Addiction treatment often involves working with a combination of professionals. Probably the most comprehensive place to start would be to meet with an addiction psychologist for a complete evaluation. However, there are several other types of therapists with the necessary and sufficient experience to get you on your way. It is important to know the differences between these sorts of treatment providers.

Doctorate Degree In Addiction Counseling

How to become an addiction counselor in Georgia

Some substance abuse professionals choose to earn a doctoral degree. Typically, a masters degree is the minimum educational requirement for taking clinical licensure exams, but you could also qualify with a doctorate.

In fact, to become a professionalpsychologist, you must earn a doctoral degree. In settings like hospitals, medical clinics, rehabilitation centers, and private practices, psychologists can provide drug counseling services for people who have addictions.

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Having a doctorate can also open the door for other opportunities in this field. You might become a researcher who studies addiction science and treatment methods, or you might teach students who want to become substance abuse counselors.

Your doctorate may also make you an outstanding candidate for leadership positions in treatment facilities and non-profit organizations.

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Online Addiction Counselor Degrees

The more education you earn, the more tools youll have at your disposal to help people with addictions.

To get started in this field, its a good idea to earn a bachelors degree and then advance further with masters and even doctoral studies.

A number of universities also offer accelerated degrees in counseling online.

Whats Next To Pursue This Career

To start you on your path towards becoming a substance abuse counselor it is advisable to get a Bachelors degree in Psychology, Sociology, Social Work or a related field. It is also wise to learn a foreign language as bilingual and multilingual employees are highly coveted. Here are some schools in your area that have degree programs in the field. Get started today on your exciting career as a substance abuse counselor!

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Complete Supervised Work Experience

Depending on the level of certification or license, applicants can be required to complete supervised work experience. Trainee, intern, and associate licenses and certifications are often required to begin earning these hours. Requirements vary by state but can be as few as 1,000 hours or six months and as many as 6,000 hours and three years. The number of hours required varies based on the level of certificate or license pursued.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description What They Can And Cannot Do

How to Become an Addiction Counselor

Substance abuse counselors are not able to prescribe medicine or give medical or psychological therapy. Rather they work with the client in an advocacy and mentoring capacity. The substance abuse counselor becomes a key figure in the life of the addict. From helping the client to see clearly the emotional underpinnings of their dependency to helping with more mundane tasks such as helping the client find or maintain employment, the substance abuse counselor works with the client to help them become self-sufficient in life.

Some of the duties of a substance abuse counselor might include:

  • Working with the client to gain or maintain employment
  • Helping the client understand the nature of their addiction
  • Helping the client to have the support networks they need to break free of addiction
  • Helping the client create concrete plans to improve their life
  • Working with the clients family to help them heal from the trauma inflicted by addiction

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