How to Become an Alcohol Counselor

Overview

As an alcohol counselor, you may counsel alcoholics and their families. You may conduct both individual and group sessions with your clients and you will help your clients work through issues that may be contributing to their alcoholism. In addition, you may help your clients identify alcohol-related triggers and teach them coping skills that will prevent them from turning to alcohol when they feel stressed or sad.

Moreover, you may work in a variety of settings such as: social service agencies, prisons, clinics, hospitals and private practices. You will be responsible for developing a treatment plan for you clients and charting their progress.

If you are interested in becoming an alcohol counselor, you will need to fulfill certain educational, certification and/or licensure requirements. This article will teach you everything you need to know to enter the field of alcohol counseling.

Educational Requirements

If you are interested in entering the field of alcohol counseling, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology, addiction counseling or a related field. Before choosing your undergraduate degree program make sure you select a counseling program that focuses on alcohol and substance abuse counseling. During your program, it is important that you take courses in math, clinical psychology, abnormal psychology, sociology, mental health and addiction psychology.

It is important to note that although a master’s degree in psychology or a related field is not required, most employers prefer that their alcohol counselors have an advanced degree. Once you have graduated from your undergraduate degree program, you will be ready to decide if you want to pursue a master’s degree in counseling. If you decide to pursue an advanced degree, you will need to research and enroll in an accredited counseling graduate program that focuses on alcoholism and/or addictions.

During your program, you will be required to complete a 60-hour alcohol counseling internship. Once you have graduated with your master’s degree, you will need to complete approximately 3,000 clinical hours at an approved agency, clinic or hospital before you can be licensed or certified. During your internship, you will work under the direct supervision of a licensed and/or certified alcohol counselor.

Licensure & Certification

Almost any state that you work in will require you to become licensed if you want to counsel clients. If you want to be an alcohol counselor you will not only need to obtain a master’s degree and complete 3,000 clinical internship hours, you will also need to pass your state licensure exam and fulfill your continuing education requirements every two to 3 three years. You may also consider seeking certification as an addiction counselor.

During this time, you will be eligible to seek certification in one 1 of 4 areas: National Addiction Certified Counselor Level 1, National Addiction Certified Counselor Level 2, Master Addiction Counselor or Tobacco Addiction Specialist. Depending on your area of certification, you may be required to complete an additional 10,000 hours clinical counseling hours before you can sit for the certification exam.

Job Duties

As an alcohol counselor, you will need to be able to effectively manage a crisis situation. You will also need to know how recognize when an individual is in distress or at risk for suicide. You will need to have excellent conflict resolution skills before counseling alcoholics and their families. You will be responsible for educating your clients and other individuals on the short-term and long-term effects of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

In addition, there may be times when you are required to counsel a pregnant woman on the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Moreover, as an alcohol counselor, you may be required to visit middle and high schools, colleges, universities to educate people of the emotional, physical and psychological dangers of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. You will also be responsible for supporting your clients during the recovery process by helping them adhere to their treatment plans.

If you work at a prison, you will have different duties than an alcohol counselor at a clinic or hospital. If you are interested in entering the field of correctional alcohol counseling, you will be required to interview inmates with substance abuse problems. You will also be responsible for coordinating programs such as: Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. When the time comes for the inmates to be released you may be asked to decide if the inmate is ready for release and if so what treatment is needed once the individual is paroled.

Salary Prospects

As an entry-level alcohol counselor, you can expect to earn between $25,500 and $35,000 annually (bls.gov). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012), once you have acquired between 10 and 20years of experience as an alcohol or addiction counselor, you may earn between $32,000 and $43,000 annually. Once you have obtained 20 years of experience in the field, you may earn between $35,000 and $50,000 annually (bls.gov).

Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012), the expected career outlook for alcohol counselors is better than the norm. As more and more alcoholics commit crimes that land them in jail, prison or residential treatment centers, the need for substance abuse (alcohol and addiction) counselors will increase. In addition, as more and more people turn to drugs and alcohol, the need for substance abuse counselors will rise.

Related Reading

Further Reading

Campus Type:
Zip:
Matching School Ads
Copyright © 2017 HealthSchoolGuide.net. All Rights Reserved. No part of this web site may be reproduced or transmitted without permission in writing from the publisher. Program outcomes vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. This site is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional help.