Online Degrees in Addiction Counseling
Degrees in Addiction Counseling: Addiction counseling professionals learn how to do mental health counseling with addicts. They learn how addiction affects the individual, their families, and the world. Their role is to help addicts with their addiction and to help them with the co-existing disorders that come with addiction. The counselor works with the addict to identify problems, to learn how to address crises, and to manage life without the addiction if possible.
Counselors can work with clients who are children, teenagers, adults, and seniors. Some counselors see addicts of different sorts while others specialize with one form of addiction. Treatment may be individual or in a group setting. Treatment can happen in a private office, in a treatment facility, in a hospital, or other appropriate setting. Treatment can go for short or long periods of time depending on the addict's state at the start of treatment.
Professionals in this field need the appropriate education and training to be successful. The counselors must have the skills to help addicts identify their addiction and work through its sources and impact. The students of this field must not only learn at the academic level, but in the clinical setting as well. You will want to find an online course that offers the practicum and clinical hours to make this happen. The right degree program is essential.
Addiction Counseling Degree Levels Available Online
Undergraduate/Graduate Certificate: 1 year to complete
Associate Degree: 2 years to complete
Bachelor's Degree: 4 years to complete
Master's Degree: 1-3 years to complete
Doctorate Degree: 4-6 years to complete
You can find online addiction counseling programs starting at the certificate level and going up to the master's level.
To get a certificate in addiction counseling, some colleges require a college degree while others do not. These certificate programs focus studies completely on the topic of addictive substances, their effect on the individual, treatment options, and how to handle families dealing with an addict.
At the associate level, education becomes better rounded. The student takes general education coursework while working on psychology classes related to addiction counseling. The associate level degree program topics include general psychology, addiction counseling skills, group counseling, counseling theories, and pharmacology of addiction. Depending on the state, this degree level can open up counseling opportunities.
At the bachelor's degree, students go deeper into the topics surrounding addiction counseling. They take classes in chemical dependency, practice of substance abuse counseling, clinical supervision of substance abuse counseling, assessment/treatment in substance abuse counseling, and harm reduction/prevention in substance abuse counseling. These topics prepare the student to take a leadership role in the area of addiction counseling. Some states provide licensure to counselors with a bachelor's degree from an appropriate program.
At the master's level, students focus totally on advanced topics surrounding addiction counseling. This can include classes in interventions in substance abuse, foundations of compulsive behavior, human sexuality, and treatment of addictive behaviors. The master's level is the desired level for those who lead addiction counseling centers. States provide licensing for counselors with this level of degree.
Requirements for entering college at the associate or bachelor's level can be personal references, test scores (ACT/SAT), and a personal essay or statement. Students must have a high school diploma or a GED. Students must pass background checks due to the sensitive nature of addiction counseling. At the master's level, the requirements include a bachelor's degree with appropriate GPA, successful completion of certain undergraduate scores, submission of transcripts, GRE scores, and professional letters of recommendation. The doctorate program usually requires a master's degree in a related field experience and letters of recommendation.
Online Addiction Counseling vs. Traditional College Programs
Addiction counseling, especially at the bachelor and master's level, will require students to complete practicum and clinical hours before graduation. That requirement means that online students will need to complete some hours on campus and potentially at a third party location. It is something you need to consider when doing an online program.
In the rest of the program, the differences between the online and the traditional are mainly on how the classes work. They all take similar programs of courses with similar titles. The difference is that the online student does not have the face-to-face interaction with instructors and students that the student in the traditional program does. The upside is that online students have more schedule flexibility.
Tuition and Accreditation
The tuition costs for addiction counseling degrees vary by degree level, college, and location. Costs between online and traditional degrees can differ as well. The associate degree can be $5,000 to $10,000. The bachelor's degree will run $10,000 to $20000. At the graduate level, the cost can be $10,000 a year or more.
The accreditation is very important when it comes to addiction counseling education. A degree program should have accreditation from one of three different agencies: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), or the American Psychological Association (APA). This accreditation is needed to find employment or to go for further education in the future.
Choosing the Best Addiction Counseling Degree
Addiction counseling is a growing field. Thousands of people every year find they have an addiction problem with alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal. There are other addictions that can require therapy. Counselors in this area need an in-depth understanding of addiction and how it affects people. They can work in individual practice or attached to outpatient clinics working with those who have addiction problems. There are opportunities in almost all parts of the country for handling this growing need.
All of the job opportunities come back to having a good education. Finding an accredited program that will work with your current life is a challenge. Going online can provide opportunities you may not have in your local community for on campus education. There are many things to consider when selecting your degree program. However, taking the time to choose the best addiction counseling degree program will pay off in the end with a new career and a bright future.