Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, drug, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. May counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

Median Annual Wage: $39,270

Education: Master's degree (30%); Bachelor's degree (19%); Professional degree (16%)

Projected Growth: Much faster than average (22% or higher)

Related Job Titles: Case Manager; Counselor; Substance Abuse Counselor (SA Counselor); Chemical Dependency Counselor (CD Counselor); Clinical Counselor; Addictions Counselor; Chemical Dependency Professional; Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist (DATS); Correctional Substance Abuse Counselor; Prevention Specialist

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors.

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  • Counsel clients or patients, individually or in group sessions, to assist in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, or making changes.
  • Interview clients, review records, and confer with other professionals to evaluate individuals' mental and physical condition and to determine their suitability for participation in a specific program.
  • Develop client treatment plans based on research, clinical experience, and client histories.
  • Review and evaluate clients' progress in relation to measurable goals described in treatment and care plans.
  • Intervene as an advocate for clients or patients to resolve emergency problems in crisis situations.
  • Coordinate counseling efforts with mental health professionals or other health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, or social workers.
  • Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in client status.
  • Attend training sessions to increase knowledge and skills.
  • Provide clients or family members with information about addiction issues and about available services or programs, making appropriate referrals when necessary.
  • Conduct chemical dependency program orientation sessions.
  • Participate in case conferences or staff meetings.
  • Coordinate activities with courts, probation officers, community services, or other post-treatment agencies.
  • Train or supervise student interns or new staff members.
  • Act as liaisons between clients and medical staff.
  • Plan or implement follow-up or aftercare programs for clients to be discharged from treatment programs.
  • Assess individuals' degree of drug dependency by collecting and analyzing urine samples.
  • Instruct others in program methods, procedures, or functions.
  • Counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting clients or patients.
  • Confer with family members or others close to clients to keep them informed of treatment planning and progress.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors.

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors.

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