Are you planning to pursue a career in counseling psychology as a substance counselor and you are not sure where to begin? This step-by-step guide is aimed at helping you understand the responsibilities and certification requirements of a substance abuse counselor. Let’s first see what’s expected of a substance abuse or addiction counselor.
Responsibilities of substance Abuse Counselor
The term substance abuse counselor refers to a mental health professional, whose main responsibility is helping or treating patients faced with addiction problems. His or her duties border on working with individual patients or families in supporting their mental health as well as treating their mental or emotional disorders.
As a mental health professional, a substance abuse counselor is trained in various therapeutic fields, such as dealing with substance abuse, addiction, depression, suicidal impulses and other problems such as those related with stress, grief and self-esteem. These mental health professionals, who are also referred to as drug and alcohol counselors, usually work with individuals or groups, based on the needs of the patient or a group of patients and the nature of treatment required.
The drug or substance abuse counselor has the responsibility to help his or her patient understand the circumstances that may worsen their situation or even affect their way to recovery. In some situations the therapist may help or advise their recovering patients on how to find new employment opportunities, and where necessary refer them to useful services and resources, including social organizations and support groups.
Substance Abuse Counselor Work Environment
A substance abuse counselor services are required in different institutions, such as those providing health care or probation services. These include government and private health institutions, prisons and juvenile detention facilities, probation organizations, detox facilities and halfway centers. As a drug or substance abuse counselor, you’ll be required to work closely with other health professionals, such as psychiatrists or psychiatric nurses, psychologists and social workers. Some of the responsibilities you may be required to carry out include assessing and interviewing clients, report writing and evaluations, maintaining clients’ records and working in partnership with other professional
Due to the exigent setting and demanding environment under which substance abuse counselors operate, it’s good to be prepared to work flexible hours. This is because your services may be needed during late and odd hours, especially in situations where you’d have to attend to families with emergencies or serve clients who may only be available during weekends.
Qualification Requirements to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor
There are many ways of becoming a substance abuse counselor. While there may be several educational paths that can lead to counseling career, it’s worthy to note, like in any other professions that there’s a connection between educational or training achievement and remuneration, job autonomy and the type of responsibilities one can handle.
Certification requirements for a substance abuse counselor may vary from state to state. Nonetheless, the following are some of the basic requirements and steps towards becoming a certified professional in substance abuse counseling.
- Attain an accredited degree in counseling
- Serve as a counselor and obtain supervised clinical experience or practical hours
- Pass a background check on felony and child Abuse
- Pass a licensing or certification post-degree exam (national or State)
When it comes to education, training and certification requirements, it’s important that you try to find the guidelines set out by the relevant governing boards or state licensing agencies.