Substance abuse is one of the most daunting issues of our time, wreaking havoc in the lives of users and their families. As a substance abuse counselor, you can make a difference and help turn around the lives of those battling addictions to drugs or alcohol. In Delaware, there are different requirements for licensure depending on a candidate’s goals and education, and it is possible to work your way up the career ladder.

Overview

In Delaware, the state government recognizes Counselor I and Counselor II status for substance abuse professionals, with the former a higher position than the latter. However, a substance abuse counselor can receive Counselor II status while he or she is working to meet Counselor I requirements. Individuals seeking Counselor II status may work at this level while fulfilling Delaware or national certification, or If they have worked in this field for less than five years. Those enrolled in qualifying practicums or internships may also receive Counselor II status.

Types of Licensure for Delaware

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Delaware offers two types of substance abuse counselor certification. The Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor(CADC) receives certification via a third party system, while the Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) is state-sanctioned and requires an advanced degree.

The Delaware Certification Board (DCB), a nonprofit, private organization, establishes certification standards and monitors such standards for substance abuse counselors and other professionals in the field of behavioral health. Since the DCB is part of the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium, credentialed counselors may move to another state and receive automatically another state’s accreditation or licensure.

LADC

The LADC requires either a master’s degree or Ph.D. in behavioral science. This includes a minimum of 30 graduate level hours in counseling or related fields. To receive the LADC title, a person must have at least 3,200 hours of post- master’s degree experience in substance abuse counseling.

Chemical Dependency Professionals

Through the state’s Division of Professional Regulation/ Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals), those with master’s degrees may earn licensure as Chemical Dependency Professionals. Such applicants may present certification as a National Certified Addiction Counselor via the Association of Addiction Counselors or as a Master Addiction Counselor. All such certifications are sent to the Board office, and must include the date of certification and the certification number. The Board issues license to professionals, and meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at noon, except for July and November. These meetings are held in the Cannon Building, 861 Silver Lake Boulevard, Dover.

Those wanting to put their license application on the Board’s agenda for consideration must submit all necessary documentation to the Board at least ten business days before a meeting date.

CADC

Delaware requires CADC applicants to have current employment in the field. While CADC certification does not require a bachelor’s degree, those with degrees may become certified faster. Many employers require a bachelor’s degree for their positions. While Delaware does not require a major in a particular subject, types of human service majors are preferable. CADC applicants may receive credit for workshop, seminars and in-service activities as well as regular college credits. The DCB considers three college credits as equivalent to 45 hours. CADC candidates must have at least 270 hours of education relating to the following fields:

  • Clinical evaluation
  • Counseling
  • Treatment planning
  • Service coordination
  • Referral
  • Documentation
  • Education – community, family or client
  • Professional ethics and responsibilities.

The professional ethics and responsibilities component requires a minimum of six hours. Delaware allows all educational components to take place through qualified distance learning courses. The candidate must also show proof of direct supervision of at least 10 hours in each of these domains, for a minimum total of 300 hours.

DCB Application

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The application for CADC certification is available on the DCB website. The application includes a verification form filled out by the supervisor and a release that requires notarization. All candidates must provide their current job description, signed by their supervisor, and any relevant training certificates. Employment is verified via a letter written on the employer’s letterhead. At least three weeks before submitting the application, DCB recommends candidates ask to have their official transcripts sent from their academic institutions. Currently, certification fees are $350.

Once the application is approved by the DCB, the candidate may schedule an examination at one of the several computerized testing centers located throughout the state “on-demand.” Should the candidate not pass the initial examination, he or she must pay a $150 re-examination fee when taking the test again.

Background Checks

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All candidates are subject to criminal background checks and fingerprinting. Delaware residents should have their background checks performed at one of three locations listed in the application. Kent County location allows walk-ins, but appointments are necessary at New Castle or Sussex County. or New Castle County. Bring the authorization form found in the packet and pay the fee, currently $69, to the location of your choice.

Testing Process for Delaware

Candidates must take the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors. The exam’s questions are in a multiple choice format, and the candidate must choose between four possible responses. Of the four, only one answer is considered the best, and candidates receive credit only if they choose that response.

Clinical Supervision Explained

Delaware requires a substantial amount of clinical supervision before someone may qualify as a counselor. Approved supervisors may be mental health counselors, chemical dependency professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers or marriage and family therapists, all of whom are currently licensed. However, Delaware does not approve school psychologists or counselors as mental health counsel supervisors.

The amount of clinical supervision necessary depends on education level. Those lacking a bachelor’s degree must put in 6,000 hours of supervised work experience in alcohol and drug addiction, although the hours are reduced to 5,000 for those who have earned an associate degree. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree must put in 3,000 hours, while those with a master’s degree must put in 2,000 hours. More than half of these hours – a minimum of 51 percent - of such work experience entails providing clients with direct addiction counseling.

For an LADC, at least half of the 3,200 hours, or 1,600, must take place under a DCB-approved supervisor’s direct supervision. These 1,600 hours must be completed within four years. One hundred of those hours must include “face-to-face” supervisor consultation, and of those 100 hours, not more than 40 may take place under group supervision. Group supervision is considered face-to-face time between the candidate, the supervisor and up to five other people under supervision.

Renewal/Continuing Education

Recertifications are necessary for CADCs every two years, and there are continuing education requirements of 40 hours of approved education every two years. This includes 20 hours of addiction-specific education and three hours in professional ethics and responsibilities. All educational hours require documentation, such as a transcript, sent to the DCB.

LADC licenses are renewable every other year, and expire in even years.

Associations for Delaware

Professional associations for substance abuse counselors in Delaware include the Delaware Association for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (DAADAC), whose goals are to “organize a constituency of professionals with unified goals in the prevention and treatment of alcoholism, drug addiction, and co-occurring disorders who primarily live and/or work in the State of Delaware.” DAADAC also advocates for the profession’s recognition and promotion in law and public policy.