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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:
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.
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Substance Abuse Counselor
Top Careers After Substance Abuse Counselor
Hispanic or Latino11.4%
Black or African American0.6%
Substance Abuse Counselor
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University of Phoenix12.1%
Grand Canyon University10.0%
Florida State University5.0%
Nova Southeastern University3.8%
Southern Illinois University Carbondale2.8%
Valdosta State University2.4%
East Carolina University2.4%
New York University2.3%
Lindsey Wilson College2.3%
University of Alabama2.3%
Virginia Commonwealth University2.2%
Substance Abuse Counselor
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||A.C. Rao P.C.||New York, NY||Dec 01, 2009||$60,000|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||People Encouraging People Inc.||Baltimore, MD||Aug 19, 2008||$55,890|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Hazelden Foundation||Center City, MN||Nov 08, 2012||$52,881|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||Texas Community Supervision Alternatives, LLC||Austin, TX||Jan 01, 2016||$52,175 -
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||Camillus Health Concern, Inc.||Miami, FL||Dec 16, 2009||$50,000|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||HHC Poplar Springs Inc.||Petersburg, VA||Sep 18, 2011||$50,000|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Teen Challenge of East Bay, Inc.||Oakland, CA||May 28, 2013||$48,339|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||Services for The Underserved, Inc.||New York, NY||Apr 04, 2011||$48,000|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Healthmark of Walton, Inc.||De Funiak Springs, FL||Mar 17, 2014||$48,000|
|Mental Health & Substance Abuse Counselor||Doug Uhlig Psychological Serrvices PLLC||NY||May 19, 2016||$47,278|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||TOX Integrated Guidance Inc.||Oklahoma City, OK||Nov 05, 2007||$45,600|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||Crisis Management Services, Inc.||Philadelphia, PA||Apr 25, 2012||$45,351|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Immanuel Church of America||Los Angeles, CA||Mar 25, 2008||$45,017|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Akeela Inc.||Anchorage, AK||Mar 23, 2010||$41,740 -
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||Crisis Management Services, Inc.||Philadelphia, PA||Apr 18, 2008||$40,446|
|Counselor and Coordinator: Hispanic Substance Abus||Council On Alcohol and Drug Abuse||New Orleans, LA||Sep 22, 2016||$40,000|
|Counselor and Coordinator: Hispanic Substance Abus||Council On Alcohol and Drug Abuse||Hahnville, LA||Dec 09, 2016||$40,000|
|Latino Substance Abuse Counselor||Positive Impact Inc.||Atlanta, GA||Nov 01, 2010||$39,500|
|Substance Abuse Counselors||Hope Homes Inc.||Smyrna, GA||Feb 11, 2011||$39,229|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||DR. Attaman, PLLC||Seattle, WA||Sep 24, 2014||$39,000|
|Substance Abuse & Behavioral Disorder Counselor (Clinician)||The Devereux Foundation||Rutland, MA||Aug 19, 2016||$38,979 -
|Substance Abuse Counselor||Wabash Valley Alliance, Inc.||Lafayette, IN||Jul 01, 2010||$36,335|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||Wabash Valley Hospital, Inc.||Lafayette, IN||Jul 01, 2010||$36,335|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc.||Lincoln, NE||Aug 07, 2012||$36,300|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Substance Abuse Center of Kansas, Inc.||Wichita, KS||Aug 01, 2012||$36,000|
|Bilingual Substance Abuse Counselor||Peer Services Inc.||Evanston, IL||May 18, 2012||$36,000|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Burrell, Inc.||Springfield, MO||Feb 28, 2014||$36,000 -
|Substance Abuse & Behavioral Disorder Counselor||People Encouraging People, Inc.||Baltimore, MD||Jan 07, 2012||$35,917|
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A Day in the Life - Drug/Alcohol Counselor