This article provides an overview of the masters in substance abuse counseling degree program, some of the subjects and courses that it requires, and why you may want to decide to complete this degree as part of your career improvement strategy. It will also outline one online masters in substance abuse counseling degree option that is highly acclaimed and you may want to consider.
What Is a Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling?
If you wish to work as a provider of substance abuse counseling, you must complete a graduate degree first. While undertaking this degree program, you will learn about the tools and techniques required to help people overcome addiction disorders.
The focus of the degree is on practical techniques and basic skills that are useful in counseling individuals, and also groups and the families of those who are affected by addictions. Furthermore, you will focus on research and theories relating to substance abuse. Additionally, most programs also enable students to focus on a specialization, for instance in clinical counseling, drug abuse, or alcoholism.
Students learn how to treat substance abuse disorders in adults and children. They will also learn how to encourage sober behaviors, preventing substance abuse in the first place. A clinical internship is generally required, which will ensure that students get the experience they need in real-life situations.
While different schools can set their own curriculum, most of them follow a set core, which includes such courses as:
- Treating Drug and Alcohol Abuse
- Group Counseling Techniques
- Role of the Family in Rehabilitation
- Advanced Individual Counseling, Assessment and Diagnosis
- Preventing Substance Abuse
- Contemporary Issues in Drug and Alcohol Abuse
- Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders
Why Earn a Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that there will be a tremendous growth in demand in substance abuse counselors from 2014 to 2024. This growth projection is 22%, which translates into some 21,200 additional jobs. Hence, it is a position with fantastic prospects.
After obtaining a masters in substance abuse counseling, people can also become licensed and/or certified, depending on the requirements in the state they want to work in. In addition, the master’s is not a terminal degree, and graduates are prepared to continue their education and get a Ph.D. degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and Administration, with concentration on clinical counseling or substance abuse. Holding a doctorate degree means that positions in research or in academia become available.
Anyone wishing to become a substance abuse counselor has to have a master’s degree in a relevant field, and they must also complete a number of clinical hours. Once they have done so, they can become licensed and start to make a difference in the lives of the populations they serve. This also entails a great degree of personal satisfaction.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors had a median salary of $41,070 per year as of May 2016. However, this is at the bachelor’s degree level. Those who hold a master’s degree are more likely to be in one of the top 10% of earners, who earn $65,080 per year or more.
Online Option for Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling
Grand Canyon University
If you wish to study towards a masters in substance abuse counseling degree, and you want to do so online, you could consider the Master of Science in Addiction Counseling offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Grand Canyon University. This degree program prepares students to run their private practices or to work in various clinics and rehab centers across the country. It also prepares students for licensing or certification.
This masters degree program includes supervised field experience or a pre-practicum experience that is mentored by a faculty member. Following this, another internship will be required to ensure that students receive the real-world experience needed to become counselors, and to be able to become licensed or certified.
The focus of the degree is on how to treat problems relating to addictions. Possible topics to focus on include counseling of chemically dependent adolescents; assessment and treatment; diagnostics; drug abuse and alcohol disorders; co-occurring disorders; cultural and social diversity issues in counseling; group counseling theory and practice; counseling theories; professional counseling orientation and ethics; drug classifications; and theories of addiction. The bulk of the curriculum relates to the causes of addiction and how these should be treated. Additionally, there is an emphasis on current counseling techniques, counseling group dynamics, and the role played by the family in recovery.
Essentially, the degree focuses on the treatment of addictions through counseling. This is achieved by studying the trends and issues and how they relate to addiction in a diverse and multicultural society, and also by determining the impact of addiction on the family unit. Furthermore, it looks at the psychopharmacological theories relating to treatment, addiction, and drug abuse. Finally, it provides students with a broad understanding of the legal standards and ethics as they relate to counseling.
Graduates are expected to meet the requirements for becoming a Licensed Associate Substance Abuses Counselor (LASAC) as set in Arizona, as well as the Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC). Because the degree is offered online, those who do not reside or intend to work in Arizona may also take part in the degree program. Naturally, they will be responsible for finding out the licensing requirements in their own state.
The degree is designed to be flexible and convenient, enabling students to complete it in their own time. The faculty are highly trained in academia and practical skills. Despite being offered online, the program does have an intimate environment in which students feel fully supported.
The core courses of the program include:
- Introduction to Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences
- Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethics
- Counseling Theories
- Introduction to Addictions and Substance Use Disorders
- Group Counseling Theory and Practice
- Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling
- Psychopharmacology and Addictions
- Co-Occurring Disorders
- Family Issues and Addictive Disorders
- Diagnostics, Assessment, and Treatment
- Counseling Chemical Dependency Adolescents
It should be clear from the above that completing a masters in substance abuse counseling is an excellent way to advance a career that will allow you to help some of the most vulnerable people in society. The program enables you to become licensed to practice as a counselor, as well as to further target your skills in specific addictions or particular population groups. You will be a leader and an inspiration for others interested in this field, and there will be a high demand for you skills and knowledge.
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- 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 Science in Addiction Counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gcu.edu/degree-programs/master-science-addiction-counseling