Substance abuse degree programs are increasingly popular amongst students. But what does it mean to be a substance abuse counselor or a behavioral disorder counselor? These counselors help people who have problems with gambling, alcohol, drugs, substance abuse and eating disorders. They help individuals to identify behaviors and problems related to their addiction. This can be done on an individual basis, but it is frequently done in a group setting. Counselors also conduct programs aimed at preventing addictions. They often work evenings to counsel clients who work during the day.
Substance abuse courses help counselors to understand more about the issues and to assist people with their problems. Most people study substance abuse at the bachelor or master levels, so you might also want to check the substance abuse masters programs. Many prefer to study online because it gives them flexibility and control over their study program. This page will help you to find out more about the field and to locate suitable programs.
What do you study in these programs?
At bachelor’s level the courses typically include the study of the psychopathological behaviors impact on the individual, family, and society; screening and assessment methods at the beginning of treatment; and case management during the treatment phases. Counseling skills courses and a fieldwork/practicum course are also included.
Courses at master’s level would include counseling theories, group counseling, social and cultural issues, psychopharmacology, family issues. In addition, there will often be a supervised internship for students to develop their counseling skills.
What are the career prospects with a substance abuse degree?
Substance abuse and behavior disorder counselors are generally governed by a different State agency or board than other counselors. The criteria for their licensure vary greatly and in some cases, these counselors may only need an associate’s degree, but national certification as a Master Addictions Counselor (MAC) requires a master’s degree in counseling, National Counselor Certification, and three years of clinical experience. Those interested in entering the field should research State requirements to determine what qualifications they must have.
The American Psychological Association says that psychology is the third fastest-growing field in America requiring a college degree. In the US, after 5 years of experience a substance abuse counselor earns on average over $34,000 (PayScales.com).
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