For individuals seeking a career that fulfills their need to be a integral piece of society, counseling is a field to look into. There are different areas of counseling that can make a profound difference in the lives of individuals.
There is one field, in particular, that goes beyond the call of duty. Substance abuse counselors help those suffering from addiction change their lives so that they can beat the disease that inhibits their ability to be proactive members of society.
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Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees
These counselors work one on one with people suffering from addiction in an attempt to guide them to a better lifestyle.
These professionals can be found in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, or even community outreach centers. As a substance abuse counselor, individuals will find that they work that they do contributes to a better society overall.
Undergraduate Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees
An interesting fact about substance abuse counseling is that some jobs can be obtained at only an associate degree level. Counselors at this level would only provide minimal support to those in need, but would be a priceless asset to those seeking freedom from addiction.
Beginning at the undergraduate level, these students will be introduced to psychology in both scientific and social aspects. Touching on courses such as abnormal psychology, addiction psychology, and social psychology will prepare undergraduate learners for the graduate curriculum that lies ahead.
It is important that future students choose a degree program that is related to their graduate degree program, so that there is maximum exposure to the psychological and social aspects that go into studying substance abuse counseling.
Graduate Level Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees
In all states, those that desire to become licensed substance abuse counselors must first graduate with a graduate level degree from an accredited university.
Length of Graduate Counseling Programs
A Master's degree in Substance Abuse Counseling can be completed in 2-3 years, depending on a student's rate of study. A doctoral degree takes 4-5 years to complete.
For graduate learners, the curriculum is much more major-oriented, introducing students to the different therapeutic aspects of substance abuse counseling in classroom and laboratory settings. The experience gained through graduate studies and supervised practicum provides future professionals with real-world practice in the field.
The Research Project
As a requirement of most licensure programs, students must take part in a certain number of practicum hours, most of the time being 300 hours or more.
At the end of the graduate program, students are required to submit a research project for their master's degree. This project carries heavy weight in the program and tests the abilities of graduates in counseling techniques.
Most professionals choose to stop at the master's degree level, since this is the minimum requirement for each state for licensure.
Gathering Professional Counseling Experience
After completing the appropriate graduate degree program, graduates will continue on to supervised work experience. Students must locate a willing observer through college resources, state departments, or private referral.
These observers will report supervised hours to the state department in order to count towards an individual’s 2 years of on the job training. Once this is completed, applicants are administered a state board exam in their field.
Only when all of the preceding components are complete will a graduate be eligible to be licensed to practice in their state. After licensure, there are continuing educational requirements and license renewal requirements that professionals must keep in mind throughout their career.
What Does a Substance Abuse Counselor Do?
Working as a substance abuse counselor is one of the most rewarding positions available. Watching as individuals grow from struggling addicts to prosperous and productive citizens can provide a great sense of pride within professionals.
Drug and Alcohol Counseling
Drug and alcohol abuse are some of the leading problems in the United States. The more substance abuse counselors that are available to treat people and keep people informed of the dangers of these addictions, the better.
As a substance abuse counselor in the United States, professionals can estimate their earnings to be about $41,870. These wages allow for financial stability in counselors working in this field. The job outlook for this profession is excellent.
Youth Prevention Programs
Substance abuse counselors provide a helping hand in several different settings. In educational settings, these counselors provide important information to the youth.
These programs are designed to help children stay away from a life of addiction. This informative process is an attempt to lower the number of recorded substance abusers per year in the United States.
In rehabilitation settings, substance abuse counselors assist addicts with resources to help them gain control over their lives. They are given the tools and techniques to help those suffering from addiction beat the disease in which they suffer.
Regardless of which sub-field is chosen, the work done plays a large role in the betterment of society as a whole.