Graduate Substance Abuse Counselor Programs

Substance Abuse Counseling Programs prepare students to understand and support those struggling with dependency and addiction. Through a Graduate Substance Abuse Counselor Program, you might take a closer look at various dependencies, like drug and alcohol use, and explore possible treatments and solutions. You may also examine the many factors that might cause or affect substance abuse, while pursuing counseling skills and knowledge that could help patients change their behaviors and live healthier lives.

Types of Substance Abuse Counseling Programs

Addiction counseling and substance abuse counseling graduate programs may be available at variety of degree levels, each with their own potential benefits and goals. While all may cover core topics in counseling and addiction, the requirements and coursework may vary. Consider your goals, experience and areas of interest to determine which Substance Abuse Counselor programs may be perfect for you.

Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling Programs

Earning a Masters in Addiction Counseling degree may be a great way to develop a comprehensive understanding of addiction and the various ways to combat it. It may also be a perfect option for anyone hoping to practice substance abuse counseling in a private practice. That's because a masters degree typically is the minimum requirement for pursuing a state license.i (Check with your state regulating board to learn more). These programs typically require two years of full time study to complete and a bachelors degree for entry.

You may find Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling Programs under a variety of different names. These include Masters in Addiction Counseling, M.S. in Substance Abuse, or Master of Arts in Human Services – Addictions and Recovery. However each may cover similar coursework. Some courses you might take in a Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling program are listed below.

  • Theories of counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Addiction and recovery
  • Psychopathology
  • Clinical diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Stress, grief, and trauma

In addition to coursework, to earn a Masters Degree in Substance Abuse Counseling, you may be required to complete one or more counseling internships, or another form of supervised experience. Check with your preferred programs for details. (And keep in mind that to earn a state license, you’ll need to complete between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of supervised practice!)i

Graduate Certificate in Addiction Counseling Programs

For those in a background other than substance abuse who hope to pursue new professional challenges, earning a Graduate Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling may be the perfect path. Unlike a Masters in Addiction Counseling degree, this credential is not a graduate degree. However, with a shorter completion time, a graduate certificate may be a great way to explore new knowledge areas or pursue continuing education. You could sample substance abuse counseling coursework or, if you are already engaged in the field, gain new skills and knowledge. Graduate certificates may even count towards your continuing education requirement for licensure. Check with you state for details.

Potential courses you could take include the following.

  • Social work intervention
  • Psychology of drug use
  • Addictions rehabilitation
  • Tobacco control and prevention

Programs vary. To see what graduate certificates in substance abuse counseling may be available to you and learn more, check out our directory and contact schools directly.

Doctorate in Substance Abuse Counseling Programs

In some cases, counseling professionals may wish to pursue a doctoral degree, such as a PhD in Addiction Studies or D.S.W. (Doctor of Social Work) in Addictions and Social. A doctoral program may allow you to deepend your knowledge through an emphasis on advanced theory, practice, and research. Both practicums and internships may also be an important part of some programs.

So what might you study in a doctoral program? Here’s a sampling of potential knowledge areas.

  • Ethical and legal issues in counseling
  • Research in rehabilitation
  • Biostatistics
  • Rehabilitation counseling supervision

Most doctorate in addiction counseling programs require 2-4 years of full time study and may have a dissertation requirement. Additionaly, a masters degree may be needed for entry. Programs and schools vary so visit our directory of doctorate degree in substance abuse counseling to learn more and contact schools.

How To Become a Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse counselors typically must meet minimum educational requirements and hold a state license or certification. However the specific requirements might vary depending on the state where you live, the type of practice you hope to potentially work in, and the type of services you plan to offer.

Substance abuse counselors who plan to work in a private practice must hold a state license. To obtain a state license, you must earn at least a masters in substance abuse counseling or another qualifying masters degree, plus perform anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. You must also pass an exam and pursue continuing education every year, among other possible requirements. Check with your state’s regulating board for the specifics!i

If you do not plan to work in a private practice, your state may not have a specific drug and alcohol counseling degree requirement. But many may require certification and the passing of an exam to practice. Employers typically require a bachelors degree for entry level positions. However, counselors with graduate level education may be able to provide a wider range of services to their clients, such as one-on-one counseling.i Attending Substance Abuse Counseling Programs may be a great way to better serve your clients and potentially help more people in need!

Choosing a Graduate Substance Abuse Counseling Program

So, how might you choose from the potential Substance Abuse Graduate programs that could help you prepare for a counseling career path? There are lots of important factors to keep in mind. Here are three big ones.

  • Program Accreditationii– Be sure your school is accredited by an organization that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This may be a good indicator of program quality. Plus, it’s necessary to be eligible for federal financial aid.
  • Program Format – You may be able to choose from potential programs on campus, online, or in a hybrid (blended) format. One possible benefit of pursuing a Graduate Substance Abuse Counselor Degree online or partly-online is that you could potentially study at the times that work best for you. For busy working students, flexibility may make all the difference! Or if you prefer in person interactions and learning, consider on campus programs. This may allow for more hands on learning and access to extended campus facilities.
  • Curriculum and Focus – Be sure to evaluate potential Graduate Substance Abuse Counselor Programs based on your career goals, and what you hope to learn. For example, if you are interested in addiction counseling, perhaps earning an M.S. in Substance Abuse Counseling is the perfect path. If you’d like to explore substance abuse as it pertains to social work, maybe pursuing a D.S.W. (Doctor of Social Work) makes more sense.

Find Substance Abuse Counselor Programs Today

Below, you’ll find some sponsored listings for Graduate Substance Abuse Counselor Programs that may catch your eye! Sort by program level (certificate, masters, or doctorate) and format (campus, online, and hybrid) to customize your list. Then follow the links to learn more and contact schools for more information. Or even start applying to Substance Abuse Counseling Programs today!

Sources: [i] | [ii]

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