Becoming a substance abuse counselor can be a very gratifying and rewarding career path. You get to help and change the lives of many people. However, before embarking on the journey to this career path, you must realize that you need to be genuinely committed and dedicated. Ultimately, you need to be compassionate, an active listener and have excellent problem-solving skills. This article will help you find out how you can become a substance abuse counselor by providing some essential tips.
Get a Bachelor’s Degree
Becoming a successful substance abuse counselor requires practitioners to receive postgraduate education. For this reason, potential counselors start their journey by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program. While it isn’t necessary, it’s highly recommended that they earn their degree in a related field such as social work, counseling, or psychology. You may be able to find masters programs that accept students who have graduated from different fields. If you want to gain an edge, you may benefit from partaking in volunteer work at a substance abuse counseling center.
Get a Master’s Degree
Although mental health, behavioral disorder, and substance abuse counselors only need a Bachelor’s degree to receive entry-level positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some states require practitioners to acquire a master’s degree in counseling or a related field to obtain a license. You can benefit from applying to several master’s programs, as the applicant pool is often very competitive. You can also explore a 1 year associate’s degree online as an alternative. It is typically faster to complete and would provide just about the same benefits as a master’s degree. Online degrees are a lot more convenient than on-campus programs.
Get an Internship
You can’t obtain a license without partaking in supervised hours through practicums or internships. You can search for internship opportunities at private clinics or rehabilitation centers. If you’re enrolled in an online program, you may be able to complete your required supervised hours where you live. Besides getting licensed, you can benefit significantly from the experiences that internships provide. Some people prefer to learn hands-on rather than by relying on observation, which is often the case with practicums. Regardless of your choice, both opportunities can teach you how the knowledge you’ve acquired throughout your degrees can be applied in real life.
Depending on your program, your instructors may encourage you to explore other areas of counseling in order to settle on a specialization. Some degrees offer courses that provide thorough information regarding the various areas of counseling, such as childhood psychology and family counseling. You may also acquire this knowledge through concentration courses, typically requiring 12 to 21 credit hours. You may also be required to complete another practicum. Most people who throve to become substance abuse counselors select addiction recovery concentration courses.
Get a Doctoral Degree
If you still want to expand your knowledge of substance abuse counseling or establish your own clinic or practice, you may want to consider earning a doctoral degree in the field of counseling. You will get the opportunity to analyze theories and contribute to research regarding substance abuse counseling treatments. You will also have to complete a dissertation project on a topic related to the field.
Becoming a substance abuse counselor takes plenty of time and effort. However, many career options will open up once you acquire the necessary degrees and complete all the required practices. The counseling industry is growing rapidly in comparison to other fields.