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The range of requirements for becoming a drug and alcohol counselor is wide and depends on the standards of the group that certifies the training. There are two basic types of counselor training the recovering addict model and the formal training model.

Recovered Addict Counselors

The recovering addict model was used by certain self-help organizations that relied upon recovered addicts to help those in treatment. This model uses the wisdom and experience gained by trial and error as the tools for teaching others. Self-help organizations led many early efforts to treat addictions in the US.

Formal Training Model

The formal training model used by most organizations has a core education requirement followed by periods of clinical experience in which supervised trainees counsel recovering addicts. The core education is often a college degree, but more institutions accept coursework without a degree. These organizations are private groups that set standards for their employees. The government can also set standards and require licenses for counselors.

Government Requirements

Many states license substance abuse counselors and only hire licensed counselors to deliver services directly to the government or in certified treatment facilities. The highest levels of private practice professionals typically require a Master’s degree in counseling or psychology, passing a licensing exam, and between 2,000 to 3,000 hours of clinical experience.

Formal Training Models

Many organizations request that counselors have a strong educational background. Their model consists of formal education in the form of an Associate or Bachelor’s degree with a focus in counseling or a related field like psychology. Some organizations accept a high school degree and add training course work, training, and supervised counseling experience. In addition to the formal education requirement, most organizations require hours of training and supervised counseling. The number of hours of training and supervised counseling will vary with the organization.

Call Us, We Can Help

When you or a loved one needs to enter into a treatment program for alcohol or drug addiction, call us. We have resources that can meet the needs of addiction as well as the life circumstances of the addict. One size of treatment does not fit all addiction, and successful treatment begins with a detailed assessment of the circumstances. The decision to enter treatment is a valuable opportunity to transform a life and travel the demanding path to recovery. Call us, we can help get recovery off to a strong start.