Social Work

Substance Abuse Counseling Program and Requirements

Substance abuse counseling is a rewarding career option. However, it often takes more than a bachelor’s degree to work as a counselor. Even so, the field is vast, and there are many supportive roles which require different levels of education.

When your dream job is to be a substance abuse counselor, you may need to continue your education and earn a masters in social work. However, this does not mean you can’t get started in the field and work in a collaborative role in a substance abuse center. Where do you start? If you want to find employment in this field, even if it is not as a counselor, you’ll need to start with one of the substance abuse social worker programs. Most community colleges or online universities offer these beginner substance abuse degree programs to get you started:

1. Substance abuse social worker programs
Substance abuse counseling certificates are offered by community colleges and other technical schools. This kind of certificate by giving you an introductory overview and certain skills to obtain experience in the field. These programs offer some preparation before you enroll in an associate degree or bachelor’s degree program.

2. Associate’s degree in drug counseling
Earning an associates degree helps introduce you to the career. It also helps show employers you are interested in the field and willing to collaborate as an assistant in this counseling field. An associates degree gives you an idea of what working with patients and their loved ones is like. The program includes counseling studies but also liberal arts coursework. Even so, before you enroll in an associate’s program, you should contact your state to find out what the state regulations are to enter the drug counseling field with an associate’s degree. Some states require you have a higher degree.

3. Bachelor’s degree
A bachelor of science in psychology covers interesting aspects of psychology, human behavior and habits. Some colleges or universities allow you to specialize in fields such as substance abuse counseling. An example of courses you may find in psychology bachelor’s major include:

  • An introduction to psychology
  • History of the social work field
  • Biology
  • Substance abuse prevention
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Personality traits
  • Clinical psychology
  • Case management

4. Master’s in social work
Becoming certified as a substance abuse counselor takes some work. You will need a Masters in social work; however, some people become counselors with a masters in substance abuse. This upper education option includes an MS, MSW or MA.

5. Professional certificate in substance abuse counselling
Some universities offer programs allowing you to specialize in substance abuse counseling. If a full fledged master’s degree is not what you have in mind just yet, you can take a professional certificate program after obtaining your bachelor’s degree to qualify to work in some capacity as a substance abuse counselor. These programs focus on different counseling approaches and certain types of field work. You’ll focus your studies on different counseling approaches, research methods and field work.

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