How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor

Working in the field of substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counseling can be difficult and stressful. But the intrinsic rewards of the work outweigh the challenges of the field for many. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks this career number one in “Best Social Services Jobs,” stating that “many professionals in the social service industry said that their job is more of a calling than a choice and that helping people is one of the most rewarding parts.

Moreover, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data projects job growth in substance abuse, behavioral disorder or mental health counseling will be much faster than the average of all occupations for the next decade, making it a practical career choice.

If you are interested in a career in this area, Lamar University offers a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling online. This focused study provides the knowledge, skills and competitive edge needed to pursue and be effective in upper-level positions in this rapidly growing field.

What Areas of Study Can Help Me Be an Effective Substance Abuse Counselor?

Lamar University’s online M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling explores counseling strategies and techniques as well as issues that affect a variety of situations and environments, such as:

  • Individual counseling – Upon completion of initial studies in human growth and development, you will examine individual counseling theories and techniques in progressive levels of depth and application. You will have opportunities to apply these theories as you consider the efficacy of individual techniques during a practicum and two internships.
  • Multicultural counseling – Because cultural perspectives, acceptance and stigma surrounding counseling, substance abuse and mental health have important implications for professional practice, Lamar University’s counseling master’s further emphasizes best practices in multicultural counseling in diverse socioeconomic populations and cultural environments.
  • Prevention and education – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that, while nearly one-fifth of people in America experience mental illness in any given year, many never receive treatment. And because mental illness, behavioral problems and substance abuse are often inextricably intertwined, the CDC along with top mental health organizations emphasizes the importance of prevention and mental health education.Taking a proactive approach to mental health is considered essential to promoting awareness, developing mental and emotional resiliency and reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and treatment.

What Qualifications Do Substance Abuse Counselors Need?

The qualifications and licenses needed for substance abuse counselors vary by job as well as by state. Some may require only work experience and a bachelor’s degree; however, many advanced positions require a postgraduate degree in the field.

Many clinical positions such as private practice assignments as a mental health counselor also require state licensure. Beside educational attainment, clinical work experience is often required and may be satisfied through practicums and internships such as those included in Lamar University’s counseling master’s degree program.

What Are Some Professional Positions Available to Substance Abuse Counselors?

Providing immediate and long-term intervention and rehabilitation services through social service agencies and rehab programs are among the career options available to substance abuse counselors. Given the importance of mental health education, they may also work in schools, community organizations or locally based substance abuse prevention initiatives and programs.

Therapists, school counselors, teachers, psychiatrists, occupational therapists and community health workers are among the professionals substance abuse counselors may collaborate with.

The work of substance abuse counseling can be extremely rewarding for the compassionate practitioner. Earning an M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling online from Lamar University can provide the necessary combination of education and experience, positioning you to be successful in your chosen career path.

Learn more about Lamar University’s Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling online program.


Sources:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

U.S. News & World Report: Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Learn About Mental Health

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