What does a Substance Abuse (or Behavior) Counselor do?
A substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor primarily supports and assists persons with behavioral problems, such as, drug addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders, gambling or other issues. They help a person correct and modify their behavior problems and continue to give support during their treatment and recovery, both in group counseling, prevention programs and/or individually.
How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor
Most employers want at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field and others may want a master’s degree. In a few cases, a high school diploma is accepted depending on the state regulations, the setting, type of work, and level of responsibility. However, several years work experience is normally expected and/or vocational school. Most also require on-the-job training.
Job Description of a Substance Abuse Counselors
A substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor helps a person with the challenge of overcoming additions or dependencies from drugs, alcohol, gambling or any other behavioral problem. They help them to receive a life adjustment by counseling the person in either a group session, one-on-one or in an intervention situation. They research treatment plans through studies of patient history, clinical experience or even with the assistance of those in professional health careers, like, mental health, social workers or doctors. They offer and give orientation programs and/or sessions for chemical dependancy. They may collect urine samples to analyze and determine the degree of drug dependency of a person.
A substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor must plan a course of treatment for a client’s behavioral problems and maintain an evaluation of progress,during treatment and afterwards, in follow-up programs after a patient is discharged. They keep careful records and accurate reports for the person’s progress, history, any service provided and other relevant information including any outside assistance. They also perform an interview process to determine if a client is suitable for a specific program and attend staff meetings and/or case conferences.
A substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor must be knowledgable in counseling, therapy, psychology and sociology. They need to have a knowledge of methods and principles for training design, instruction and teaching for individual or group dynamics and curriculum. He or she needs to know how to assess the client’s needs, evaluation of satisfaction and meeting any required services or standards. One would need the ability to actively listen, giving full attention to a client’s needs and communicate with them in a way that is easy to understand. The ability to be socially perceptive is important in order to understand a patient’s reaction and why they behave as they do.
You would need monitoring abilities for corrective action or any improvements needed for the individual, organization or yourself. A substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor needs to be able to make decisions and make judgements concerning patient care, to include, benefits, treatment or cost. They need a solid command of english grammar in order to give information through documentation, recording or other written or oral reports to their supervisors, subordinates or other health professionals. Resolving problems from a grievance, complain or other conflict is also necessary for this job.
Most substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor’s work in community health centers, prisons, mental health centers or private practice usually full time.