This article presents an overview of the masters in addiction counseling degree program, some of the subjects and courses that make up its curriculum, and why you may want to consider this degree as part of your career move. It will also present a high-quality online masters in addiction counseling program that you may want to consider.
What Is a Masters in Addiction Counseling?
While addiction counseling is often focused on addiction to drugs, alcohol, or other similar substances, there are many other forms of addiction as well. These include food, sex, gambling, and more. As part of a masters in addiction counseling program, you will gain a greater understanding of the behaviors and risk factors that can lead to someone developing an addiction.
This degree program has also been designed to prepare you to play an important role in the counseling process. This means working with individuals, with groups, or with families to discuss the impact of the addictive behavior, and how it is possible to move forward from there. There are many positions that someone with this degree can take up, and it is relevant for people with a range of backgrounds, including social services workers, human services employees, nurses, psychologists, and so on.
Why Earn a Masters in Addiction Counseling?
By obtaining a masters in addiction counseling, you will be able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people who suffer from an addiction or substance abuse disorder. You will work with these individuals to help them overcome their problems and to identify the root of the problem. The goal is to encourage them to live sober, healthy lifestyles, through the help of rehabilitation programs, sober houses, 12 step programs, and more.
Graduates are able to offer counseling and treatment to those with addictions. The treatment process includes motivating and supporting them to turn their lives around. You will empower patients to fight the addiction by providing them with different tools and strategies that can help them remain sober. A strong focus would be on behavioral treatment, which will also enable you to work with the patient to identify the behavioral, psychological, cultural, and environmental issues that have contributed to the development of the addiction.
It is very common for patients to have co-occurring disorders, which means that they received a dual diagnosis of both an addiction disorder and a mental health issue. Hence, someone with a masters in addiction counseling also often ventures into the realm of psychology, working with other professionals to address these issues together with the addiction problem. This has been demonstrated to be crucial to help patients achieve sobriety.
The degree program enables you to work not just with patients, but also with their family members. This helps family members develop coping mechanisms that allow them to facilitate the recovery process of their loved ones, without becoming co-dependent themselves. Furthermore, you will place a strong focus on community education and on abuse prevention so that fewer people become addicted in the first place.
Lastly, someone with a master’s degree in addiction counseling often becomes an advocate for the mental health of people with addictive disorders. Specialists now recognize addictions as mental illnesses and work hard at decriminalizing addictive behaviors, fighting for treatment instead of incarceration. As a result, some graduates end up working within the criminal justice system, where they feel they can make the greatest difference. That being said, there are also many employment opportunities in both inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities, as well as in private practices and for nonprofit organizations. Here, you will be expected to counsel patients individually and as part of a group, encouraging them to share their story and gain a greater insight into their life choices and how to move on from there.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned a median salary of $41,070 per year as of May 2016. However, this is at the bachelor’s degree level and those with a more advanced degree are more likely to find themselves in the top 10% of earners, whose annual salary is $65,080 per year or more.
Online Option for Masters in Addiction Counseling
If you are considering a masters in addiction counseling, then the Master of Arts (MA) in Addiction Counseling offered by Liberty University may be a good option. This online program has been designed to provide students with the training and education that they need to become licensed or certified as addiction or substance abuse counselors, which is required in every state in the country. The degree program exceeds the requirements of all national and state boards, which causes graduates to be in incredibly high demand for their advanced counseling skills and tools. Thus, they are able to work in a variety of settings.
Graduates are known for their in-depth understanding of the legal and ethical issues in counseling; the link between psychopathology and counseling, trauma, grief, and acute stress; and their awareness of assessment techniques used in counseling. The program is delivered fully online and takes 48 credit hours to complete. The university, meanwhile, is ranked as one of the 20 best in the country for the masters in addicition counseling degree. Furthermore, Liberty University has won numerous other awards, including:
- The Best Online Programs Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling 2017 from TheBestSchools.org
- Best online programs Christian counseling 2017 from BestColleges.com
- Top Online Colleges – Best Value Human Services 2017 from the SR Education Group
- Most Affordable Colleges Substance Abuse Counseling 2017 from the SR Education Group
The core curriculum of the degree includes:
- Ethical And Legal Issues in Counseling
- Multicultural Counseling
- Counseling Techniques and the Helping Relationship
- Integration of Spirituality and Counseling
- Theories of Counseling
- Group Counseling
- Research and Program Evaluation
- Assessment Techniques in Counseling
- Marriage and Family Counseling
- Psychopathology and Counseling
- Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
- Addiction and the Recovery Process
- Biological Aspects of Addiction and Recovery
- Treatment and the Recovery Process
Those who complete the degree have a number of potential career options, including:
- Clinical case manager
- Managed care specialist
- Mental health services
- Non-licensed counselor
- Rehabilitation counselor
- Substance abuse counselor
Clearly, earning a masters in addiction counseling degree offers a fantastic opportunity to advance your career and make a meaningful difference in the lives of many people. You can choose to work in a variety of settings, providing direct counseling, working in advocacy, or focusing on prevention. Mainly, you will set yourself apart as an expert in your field.
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm
- Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.liberty.edu/online/masters/addiction-counseling/