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How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor In New York

What Sort Of Person Becomes An Addictions Counselor

What is Mental Health Counseling?

Addiction mental health counselors are a diverse group. As you begin to practice, you’ll see that this diversity is a great strength in the field. That’s because substance use addicts are likewise diverse. There is not one single set of characteristics that will fit every substance abuse sufferer. Therefore, in order to connect with an addict, there needs to be a counselor that they can relate to. Your unique story and approach will surely be a great benefit to an addict and his family.

While many addicts appreciate counselors who have been through the wringer of substance abuse, a lack of a alcohol and drug addiction shouldn’t hold you back from pursuing the profession. In fact, you can bring a more objective view to the table. This can be of great help in a clinical setting, where a rehab center wants to have a diversified staff.

  • Objectivity
  • Open-mindedness

While diversity is something of a rule in this field, alcohol and drug addiction counselors need to be dedicated to helping people with substance abuse find a solution to a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. This condition frequently involves relapse and it is nobody’s fault when this happens. Neither modern science nor ancient wisdom traditions have discovered a silver-bullet solution that works for everybody after a single treatment. Therefore, you will need to have patience not only with your clients, but with yourself and with the entire process of getting sober.

Choosing A Graduate Substance Abuse Counseling Program

So, how might you choose from the potential Substance Abuse Graduate programs that could help you prepare for a counseling career path? There are lots of important factors to keep in mind. Here are three big ones.

  • Program Accreditation Be sure your school is accredited by an organization that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This may be a good indicator of program quality. Plus, its necessary to be eligible for federal financial aid.
  • Program Format You may be able to choose from potential programs on campus, online, or in a hybrid format. One possible benefit of pursuing a Graduate Substance Abuse Counselor Degree online or partly-online is that you could potentially study at the times that work best for you. For busy working students, flexibility may make all the difference! Or if you prefer in person interactions and learning, consider on campus programs. This may allow for more hands on learning and access to extended campus facilities.
  • Curriculum and Focus Be sure to evaluate potential Graduate Substance Abuse Counselor Programs based on your career goals, and what you hope to learn. For example, if you are interested in addiction counseling, perhaps earning an M.S. in Substance Abuse Counseling is the perfect path. If youd like to explore substance abuse as it pertains to social work, maybe pursuing a D.S.W. makes more sense.
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Earn The Degree Required For Your Counseling Practice Area

Most New York counselor licenses require a university degree before beginning the licensure process. The requirements vary as school counselors are only required to have a bachelors degree, while LMHCs and LMFTs must have a graduate degree at either the masters or doctoral level. Those wishing to become Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselors can start this process with a high school degree and may choose to complete a degree while working towards full licensure.

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Do Schools Offer Online Programs With A Counseling Specialty

Yes. Schools offer fully online undergraduate and graduate degrees with a counseling speciality. Programs incorporate counseling, social work, and psychology into coursework.

The curriculum focuses on diagnostics processes, clinical assessments, and how to facilitate groups. Students take online courses, but they must complete clinical experiences in person.

Licensed Marriage And Family Therapist

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In New York, LMFTs must be at least 21 years old and complete various education and training requirements. An approved graduate degree in marriage and family therapy or an allied health field with significant training in marriage and family therapy is required. Licenses are issued by the NYSED Office of the Professions and the licensure fee as of July 2019 is $371. LMFTs provide assessment and treatment services to individuals, partners, and families experiencing dysfunctional relationships or mental health issues.

The LMFT licensure process requires candidates to:

  • Apply for an LMFT limited permit.
  • Accrue 1,500 hours of supervised direct clinical experience.
  • Submit an LMFT application and request permission to sit for the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards National Examination.
  • Receive your LMFT license.

More information about careers in marriage and family therapy can be found in our LMFT career guide.

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National Certification Commission For Addiction Professionals

Thisorganization offers three levels of certification: national certified addiction counselor, level I national certified addiction counselor, level II and master addiction counselor. Each level hasits own set of eligibility requirements.

NCCAP also offers specialized certifications, such as nicotine dependence, adolescent addiction, or peer recovery support. NCCAP requires a $235 application fee and a $200 application renewal fee.

What Do Substance Abuse Behavioral Disorder And Mental Health Counselors Do

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors advise people who have alcoholism or other types of addiction , eating disorders, mental health issues or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide support and treatments to help the client recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors by helping them identify behaviors and issues related to their addiction. They may also teach clients how to cope with stress and lifes problems in ways that help them recover. Many times, they help clients rebuild professional relationships and reestablish their careers. They may also help clients improve their personal relationships and find ways to discuss their addiction or other problems with family and friends.

Many substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors work with other health and mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, social workers, doctors, and nurses. Counseling sessions may be one-on-one, with families, or with groups of people.

For more information about substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, click here.

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Professor Prepares Students For Real

Helping someone recover from addiction requires more than just book learning.

As an adjunct psychology instructor, Bryan Flowers works with students in SUNY Adirondacks Substance Abuse Services program to think beyond the textbook.

It helps for people to practice the skills they are learning. They need to learn how to build rapport. My job is to help people turn the information they learn into practice so when someone is sitting in front of them, they will know what to say to open up a conversation, said Flowers.

Flowers is licensed in New York state as a Mental Health Counselor and as a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor. He also holds certification nationally as a Certified Counselor and as a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor.

The colleges program is intensive. Theres quite a bit of information that they have to learn, Flowers said.

Flowers encourages his students to think beyond the addiction.

Substance abuse isnt necessarily the core issue. Its one of the symptoms. We need to become aware of trauma and provide support. People are often self medicating, he said.

The program prepares students to qualify as a CASAC-T and to sit for the CASAC examination offered by the states Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Service.

DID YOU KNOW?According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for substance abuse counselors is expected to grow 23 percent through the next decade, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Im A Certified Counselor From Another State

CUNY Kingsborough Chemical Dependency Counseling

Through interstate reciprocity agreements, those who hold a school counseling certification from a participating state may be granted a similar certification in New York. In order to be a New York school counselor certification prospect, you will need to have either completed an approved out-of-state school counseling preparation program or currently possess a valid, advanced-level certification with 3 years of service. 2 of the 3 years must have been served as a school counselor.

For more information, browse the following New York Department of Education webpage for Interstate Certification Agreement Applicants.

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S To Become A Licensed Addiction Counselor

Once you decide the role of substance abuse counselor is your ideal career you’ll need a working plan in order to reach your goal. While there are various paths you might take to earn this title, it is vital you have a clear idea of what you need to do and learn in order to qualify for the role. Here are the most accepted steps you’ll need to follow in order to become a substance abuse counselor:

  • Step 1: Check your state requirements for licensure

  • Step 2: Earn your degree

  • Step 3: Complete the minimum number of hours of counseling work experience required

  • Step 4: Complete your state application process

  • Step 5: Pass your state counseling exam

  • Step 6: Maintain your license by meeting state continuing education requirements

Get Licensed To Practice Counseling In New York

After completing the necessary education, you can apply to the appropriate licensing body to begin the licensure process. For LMHCs and LMFTs, licensure is issued by the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions. School counselors follow a different path to certification via the New York State Education Department Office of Teaching Initiatives. Professional counselors working in the area of substance abuse are certified by the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services as Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors . Other types of counseling professionals may be licensed through other state organizations.

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Continue Your Education And Stay Up To Date On Substance Abuse And Addiction Counseling Trends And Changes

Continuing education is imperative to maintaining professional counseling licensure/certification and keeping up-to-date with any updates to the substance abuse and addictions field.


Bachelor’s holders can prepare to become a licensed professional counselor online. With no GRE scores required to apply, the 24 month online MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine allows you to advance your career and be a catalyst of change.


Depending on the setting and state in which they practice, the educational requirements for a substance abuse/addiction counselor vary. However, as is the case with any counselor, a masters degree in counseling or related fields such as social work or psychology is highly recommended and often required.

Certification demonstrates your experience, education and level of counseling skills. The American Institute of Health Care Professionals offers the Substance Abuse Practitioner Certification Program. The Association for Addiction Professionals offers certification programs specific to addiction and recovery. Many counselors become credentialed after having worked with an institution for a period of time. Some employers will pay fees associated with attaining counseling credentials.

How To Become A Counselor In New York

How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor

To become a licensed counselor in New York, you will likely need a graduate degree in counseling and extensive clinical training. There are many counseling schools in New York offering masters degrees and above that meet the states specific licensure requirements. Many common counseling career paths, such as Licensed Mental Health Counselors and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists , require licensure that is issued by state bodies. To learn more about the various licensure processes for New York counselors, continue reading the guide below.

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Courses In Substance Abuse Counselor Programs

A substance abuse counselor program teaches students about diverse perspectives in the field. Master’s programs require 35-50 credits depending on the school and take 2-4 years to complete.

In their courses, students examine substance abuse warning signs and effects, prevention and intervention, and various counseling forms and philosophies. Many programs include internships, requiring students to complete supervised working hours and providing hands-on experience. Find potential course examples for substance abuse counselor programs below, but keep in mind not all schools hold these class offerings.

Graduates entering substance abuse counseling need to know the leading theories in their field. This course gives students the tools to develop their own counseling philosophies and provide effective care to future patients. Common theories include existential psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and rational behavioral therapy.

Substance abuse counselors help patients with diverse backgrounds daily. In this course, students obtain a firm understanding regarding social and multicultural issues experienced in their field to better inform their practice. This course treats topics like race, gender, and disabilities. Instructors also address historical diversity issues in counseling and modern trends in the profession.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor Licensing Process

In New York, Licensed Mental Health Counselors can assess and provide treatment to individuals or groups suffering from psychological, behavioral, developmental, or emotional issues. This includes providing psychotherapy and other interventions and services. You can read more about what professional counselors do on our mental health counselor career guide. In New York, the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions issues licenses for LMHCs. To become an LMHC, you must be at least 21 years old, have an approved graduate degree in counseling, and complete necessary training, such as child abuse reporting. The Department also offers a checklist to help applicants understand licensure requirements.

1. Apply for an LMHC limited permit.

After you have completed the necessary education, the next step in achieving full licensure is to submit your application for an LMHC limited permit. It is necessary to apply for a limited permit so you can complete the remaining required clinical training. As of July 2019, the fee for a limited permit is $70. Application forms are available online.

2. Accrue supervised experience.

3. Apply for LMHC licensure and permission to test.

4. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination .

5. Receive your LMHC license.

Once you receive your LMHC license, you are able to use the title of Licensed Mental Health Counselor and provide independent services.

Professional Counselor Licensure by Endorsement in New York

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Substance Abuse Counselor In New York Ny Jobs

Job Title
Spring Hill Wellness New York, LLC Brooklyn, NY
Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst Brooklyn, NY
Interborough Developmental and Consultation Center Brooklyn, NY
Bridging Access To Care Inc Brooklyn, NY
Goodwill Industries Of Greater New York New York, NY
Anchor House Inc. Brooklyn, NY
Phoenix Houses of NY|LI Long Island City, NY
Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities, Inc Corona, NY
Northwest Essex Community Healthcare Network Belleville, NJ
Phoenix Houses of NY|LI Astoria, NY
Bridging Access To Care Inc United States

What Is Substance Abuse And Addiction Counseling

Sheila Torres, LCSW-R | Therapist in New York

People who have a chemical dependency on drugs or alcohol can turn to substance abuse and addiction counselors for mental health and social services, such as therapy, housing, and employment. These professionals apply their knowledge of addiction and treatment to their counseling practice.

Substance abuse and addiction counselors not only help individuals, but they also make valuable contributions to society by potentially decreasing overdoses. Inpatient and outpatient substance abuse and addiction counseling services help individuals change maladaptive behaviors, build support networks, and recognize unhealthy patterns of behavior.

The profession combines psychology and counseling theories and practices to provide psychotherapy and behavioral counseling although substance abuse and addiction counselors cannot give medication.

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Getting The Undergraduate Certificate For Alcohol And Drug Abuse Counseling

The majority of coursework in National Universitys undergraduate certificate is online through live-streaming classrooms. During the last class in the program, the practicum, students are assigned to work with clients on-site in the community, and they participate in a seminar where they go over their fieldwork.

Preparation for on-site work begins almost as soon as students begin the certificate program. In our program, we start helping students develop relationships with their local addiction community very early in the program through assignments integrated into the program, says Dr. Posson. By the last class, they have relationships and an idea of where they would like to do their practicum. Then we help them get a signed agreement with that agency for six months of practicum totaling 255 hours, a minimum in all states.

The undergraduate certificate at National University combines training in psychology, physiology, law and ethics, case management, and counseling. Students learn to correctly diagnose dependence issues and develop unique treatment plans based on individual client needs. Developing relationships with other counselors and professionals is an important part of the program students go out in the field to learn first-hand from experts already working in the profession.

Apply For Substance Abuse Counselor Certification

Once you have received enough education and supervised training hour credits, you can apply for state certification to become an actual substance abuse counselor. You will most likely be required to submit to a background check, drug screening, criminal history review and other such measures that correlate to strength of moral character.

Other requirements may include:

  • Completion of additional supervised training hours
  • Payment of application fee
  • Submitting ID requirements such as fingerprints and a license photo
  • Signing an ethical standards agreement

You will then need to satisfy the requirements for licensure or certification, which can include passing a state-facilitated exam. After being approved for certification or licensure, you can become a full-fledged substance abuse counselor.

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