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Become An Addiction Therapist

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Working As An Addiction Therapist

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $48,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Addiction Therapist Do

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

Duties

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors typically do the following:

  • Evaluate clients’ mental and physical health, addiction, or problem behavior and assess their readiness for treatment
  • Help clients develop treatment goals and plans
  • Review and recommend treatment options with clients and their families
  • Help clients develop skills and behaviors necessary to recover from their addiction or modify their behavior
  • Work with clients to identify behaviors or situations that interfere with their recovery
  • Teach families about addiction or behavior disorders and help them develop strategies to cope with those problems
  • Refer clients to other resources and services, such as job placement services and support groups
  • Conduct outreach programs to help people identify the signs of addiction and other destructive behavior, as well as steps to take to avoid such behavior

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, also called addiction counselors, work with clients individually and in group sessions. Many incorporate the principles of 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to guide their practice. They teach clients how to cope with stress and life’s problems in ways that help them recover. Furthermore, they help clients rebuild professional relationships and, if necessary, reestablish their career. They also help clients improve their personal relationships and find ways to discuss their addiction or other problems with family and friends.

Some addiction counselors work in facilities that employ many types of healthcare and mental health professionals. Addiction counselors may work with psychiatrists, social workers, physicians, and registered nurses to develop treatment plans and coordinate care for patients.

Some counselors work with clients who have been ordered by a judge to receive treatment for addiction. Others work with specific populations, such as teenagers, veterans, or people with disabilities. Some specialize in crisis intervention; these counselors step in when someone is endangering his or her own life or the lives of others. Other counselors specialize in noncrisis interventions, which encourage a person with addictions or other issues to get help. Noncrisis interventions often are performed at the request of friends and family.

Some substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work in private practice, where they work alone or with a group of counselors or other professionals. These counselors manage their practice as a business. This includes working with clients and insurance companies to receive payment for their services. In addition, they market their practice to bring in new clients.

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How To Become An Addiction Therapist

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on the employer, educational requirements can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree.

Education

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on the employer, educational requirements can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree. Workers with more education are able to 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.

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 a master’s 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 or certification criteria for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors outside of private practice vary from state to state. For example, not all states require a specific degree, but many require applicants to pass an exam. Contact information for your state’s licensing board can be found through the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must be able to work with different types of people. They spend most of their time working directly with clients or other professionals and must be able to develop and nurture good relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. They need to give their full attention to a client to be able to understand that client’s problems and values.

Patience. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must be able to remain calm when working with all types of clients, including those who may be distressed or angry.

Speaking skills. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors need to be able to effectively communicate with clients. They must express ideas and information in a way that their clients easily understand.

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Addiction Therapist Career Paths

Addiction Therapist
Case Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager Nursing Director
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Program Manager Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Psychotherapist Clinical Supervisor Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Psychotherapist Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Psychotherapist Senior Social Worker Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Adjunct Instructor Registered Nurse Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Clinical Social Worker
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Clinical Social Worker Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Coordinator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinician Program Manager Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinician Office Manager House Manager
Housing Director
6 Yearsyrs
Licensed Professional Counselor Adjunct Professor Nurse Manager
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Licensed Professional Counselor Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Licensed Professional Counselor Therapist And Program Manager Clinical Director
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Clinical Therapist Clinical Social Worker
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Therapist Marriage And Family Therapist Mental Health Clinician
Mental Health Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Therapist Program Supervisor Center Director
Director Of Family Service Center
9 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Therapist 3.8 years
Clinical Therapist 2.9 years
Therapist 2.7 years
Primary Counselor 2.5 years
Health Therapist 2.4 years
Group Therapist 2.4 years
Primary Therapist 2.3 years
Intake Counselor 2.1 years
Sex Therapist 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Addiction Therapist
Therapist 11.4%
Internship 9.4%
Counselor 7.1%
Clinician 3.8%
Specialist 2.5%
Teacher 2.3%
Top Careers After Addiction Therapist
Therapist 15.2%
Counselor 5.8%
Clinician 4.6%
Internship 2.6%

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Top Skills for An Addiction Therapist

  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Addictions Therapist
  3. Group Therapy Sessions
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepare progress notes and evaluations and develop/implement effective treatment plans.
  • Served as a PRN addictions therapist * Conducted assessments, individual and group treatment services
  • Conduced individual and group therapy sessions.
  • Conducted presentations, and delivered education and training using a variety of techniques and methods on alcohol/substance abuse prevention.
  • Provided intensive, in-patient individual and group counseling, along with crisis intervention services for adult substance abuse populations.

Addiction Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

57.4%

Male

29.9%

Unknown

12.7%
Ethnicity

White

64.4%

Hispanic or Latino

13.8%

Black or African American

12.4%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

3.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

71.4%

Russian

14.3%

Portuguese

14.3%

Addiction Therapist Education

Schools

Capella University

12.2%

Grand Canyon University

9.4%

Liberty University

5.8%

West Virginia University

5.8%

Roberts Wesleyan College

5.8%

State University of New York College at Brockport

5.0%

Webster University

5.0%

State University of New York Buffalo

5.0%

Eastern Illinois University

5.0%

Illinois State University

4.3%

Nova Southeastern University

4.3%

Medaille College

4.3%

Walden University

4.3%

Springfield College

4.3%

University of South Florida

3.6%

Marywood University

3.6%

University of Phoenix

3.6%

Marshall University

2.9%

Chestnut Hill College

2.9%

Wayne State University

2.9%
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Majors

Social Work

21.4%

Counseling Psychology

13.9%

School Counseling

12.1%

Mental Health Counseling

12.1%

Psychology

7.9%

Clinical Psychology

5.7%

Human Services

5.3%

Business

3.4%

Family Therapy

2.8%

Rehabilitation Science

2.2%

Criminal Justice

2.0%

Education

2.0%

Sociology

1.8%

Nursing

1.4%

Chemical Engineering

1.2%

English

1.2%

Pastoral Counseling And Specialized Ministries

1.0%

Human Development

1.0%

Pharmacy

1.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.8%
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Degrees

Masters

64.6%

Bachelors

11.0%

Other

9.0%

Doctorate

7.7%

Certificate

3.8%

Associate

3.3%

License

0.5%
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