When people talk about rehab and recovery facilities, they often picture the detoxification process. Detox is the first phase to a long process of consequent treatments that aid addicts in managing cravings and avoiding relapse. However, unknown to the majority of people, counseling is a mainstay of addiction treatment for many recovering addicts.
Behind every successful recovery from addiction, is a therapist that worked toe and nail to see his or her patients receive the best kind of treatment. But who is a therapist, what experience do they have and what are their qualifications?
Who is a therapist?
Also known as a counselor, is an expert in charge of therapy at the rehab facility. Therapy aims at treating individuals struggling with addiction and their families through various techniques. Therapists are trained to treat a wide range of emotional disorders such as substance abuse, depression, stress, anxiety, hopelessness, suicidal impulses, and overall issues that suggest grief and low self-esteem.
The goal of a therapist is to pinpoint underlying problems that an addict could be struggling with. In gaining a better understanding of the trigger issues that force an individual into substance abuse, the expert will help prepare them for recovery. The therapeutic intervention has far been waved as the most critical part of running a rehab facility.
How do you become a substance abuse counselor?
Complete a bachelor’s degree
You are required to attend school to attain a bachelor’s degree in addiction counseling or other related fields. This should set up the necessary groundwork for counseling students. It takes typically four years to complete with in-depth studies in various areas such as theories of personality, human development, counseling foundation, and psychology. In some states, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient enough to warrant certification in counseling.
A master’s degree in addiction counseling raises the bar for you to earn a license. You may need to complete two years of supervised clinical experience during your time while pursuing your master’s degree in counseling. At this point, you could specialize in:
- Drug abuse counseling.
- Clinical counseling.
- Alcohol abuse counseling.
Choose a path that will help you get closer to your career dreams and goals. For instance, if you wish to work in social environments, consider rehabilitation counseling. If you want to work in medical settings, the clinical counseling section might be your best bet.
Pass all your substance counseling exams for licensing
Earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in counseling or clinical psychology accrues to only half of the battle. Mental health counseling has been getting the attention it deserves in recent times. Consider sitting exams for the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor for clinical counseling or the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for family therapy.
Most states require therapists to take state board licensing exams such as the National Counseling Exam. You must also complete a specific number of hours while counseling under supervision from a licensed therapist. Additionally, you must pass both oral and written exams. The National Certification Commission of Addiction Professionals could be critical if you are looking to specialize and work with addicts and the rehab facilities. These certificates should boost your knowledge, skills, and portfolio among other candidates.
They say learning never ends. As a therapist, continuing education is imperative in keeping your licenses valid as well as updating your resources and knowledge on substance abuse and addiction topics.
The period taken to complete your bachelor’s degree sets apart some time for a residency where you will practically engage with addicts and learn how to transfer your knowledge. Residency periods are crucial in giving you first-hand experience on what it’s like to deal with patients struggling with addiction.
After completion of studies, you may decide to take up an internship and gain more exposure. Once you are fully accredited and licensed to practice therapy, you could look for a job at treatment centers, hospitals, and rehabs. Certain families and individuals also look for personal therapy sessions that you could deliver in private practice. According to statistics, with the growing rise in mental awareness, therapy fields have witnessed a rising demand. Counselor jobs are expected to grow at a faster rate than other average occupations in the medical field.