Why Become a Certified Addiction Counselor?

So, what is the Certified Addiction Counselor credential?   And would Christian recovery program staff members benefit from attaining it?   I think there are some compelling reasons to pursue credentialing for anyone considering a career in the field of addiction.

A.               Introducing the CAC – The CAC is the professional credential that is the standard for individuals working with addicts and alcoholics in hospitals, treatment centers, and other agencies.   It is awarded through a peer-review process and is administered by independent agencies in all fifty states of the US.   The CAC is based on experience and the ability to demonstrate the most important skills of addiction counseling.   No specific college degree is required.

B.               Benefits for the Worker — Pursuing of the CAC can be a rewarding professional development experience.   Besides displaying competence in the Twelve Core Functions of the Substance Abuse Counselor (which we will discuss in more detail), credentialing bodies also require a certain number of hours in formal education in the substance abuse and counseling fields.   Participation in AGRM-sponsored training events and certain City Vision University courses can be used toward picking up these required educational hours.     Additionally, the process requires a specified number of supervised hours, where the individual works with an experienced addictions professional.

C                 Benefits for the Program  —The key to an effective program is staffing it with qualified people.   Rescue missions tend to hire people with biblical and theological training.   A growing number have also recognized the importance of having staff members who are competent in the area of substance abuse counseling.   Hiring individuals who possess the CAC means bringing in people with a combination of experience and demonstrated competence in the additions field.   It can also help when seeking financial support from private foundations and government funding sources.   Other agencies and ministries that recognize the value of the CAC are also more likely to refer clients to the program.   Having current staff members become involved in the pursuit of the CAC is a great way to equip them by obtaining useful skills and a professional approach to their work.

C                 The Twelve Core Functions — Though administered by different bodies in the various states, there is movement in the area of reciprocity; allowing the credential granted by one state to be transferred to another if the counselor moves.   This has been accomplished because of the near-universal acceptance of the “Twelve Core Functions” in which the counselor seeking the CACA must be able to demonstrate competence. These are:   *

I.             Screening:   Determining whether the client is appropriate and eligible for admission to the program.

II.         Intake:   Completing admission, assessment, and other program forms,   releases of information, and assigning a primary counselor to the client.

III.       Orientation:   Describing to the client the goals of the program; rules of conduct and infractions that can lead to disciplinary action or discharge from the program.

IV.       Assessment:     Identifying and evaluating an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, problems, and needs in order to develop a treatment plan.   This usually results from a combination of focused interviews, testing, and/or record reviews.

V.         Treatment Planning: Identifying and ranking problems needing resolution; establish agreed upon immediate and long-term goals; and deciding upon a treatment process and the resources to be utilized.     A written treatment contract (or recovery plan) is based on the assessment and is a product of a negotiation between the client and the counselor to assure that the plan is tailored to the individual’s needs.

VI.       Counseling: Basically, the relationship in which the counselor helps the client mobilize resources to resolve his or her problem and/or modify attitudes and values.

VII.   Case Management:   Knowing how to bring outside services, agencies, and resources to assist the client to recovery and attain other goals of the treatment plan.

VIII. Crisis Intervention: Knowing how to respond to an alcohol and/or other drug abuser’s needs during acute emotional and/or physical distress that threatens to compromise or destroy the rehabilitation effort.

IX.       Client Education:   Education that supports recovery from alcohol and drug addiction can be provided in a variety of ways;   a sequence of formal classes may be conducted or outside educational resources may be used.

X.        Referral:   Identifying the needs of a client that cannot be met by the counselor or agency (mission) along with assisting the client to access the support systems and community resources available.

XI.       Report and Record-Keeping:   Charting the results of treatment;, writing reports, progress notes, discharge summaries, and other client-related data.

XII.   Consultation — Relating with in-house staff or outside professionals to assure comprehensive, quality care for the client; involves meetings for discussion, decision-making and planning.


Learn about the requirements for addiction counselor certification in your state. If you have any questions about these matters or need help in contacting the agency in your state that administers the credentialing process, please feel free to contact me.


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