What does an Addiction Counselor in Arizona do? What is Their Job Role?
An Arizona substance abuse counselor will do important direct client contact counseling work. A substance abuse counselor will help those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse and their families through some difficult times, shepherding them through treatment and later, through the maintenance stages.
While substance abuse counseling is an admirable career path, a potential drug and alcohol substance abuse counselor will need to meet a specific set of requirements in the state of Arizona. To become a licensed, independent counselor, you’ll need to complete at least a master's degree, as well as jump through some additional hoops on the road to certification. An Arizona substance abuse counselor can anticipate doing an internship, and participating in supervised practice sessions, in the time leading up to the big exam.
If you're thinking about becoming a substance counselor in Arizona, here is what you need to know about obtaining the right credentials, as well as what you can expect regarding salary and career path.
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What Are the Job Duties and the Job Description?
An Arizona substance abuse counselor will work in a wide range of medical office and hospital locations. They might work in a rehabilitation facility, at a hospital, or in a private practice. Regardless of where you decide to work, the job duties are relatively uniform across settings. Most substance abuse counselors work directly with patients and play a hands-on role in their recovery process.
Substance abuse counselors provide support to people suffering from drug or alcohol dependence, as well as eating disorders or behavioral issues. This person works with their clients, teaching them how to modify their behavior and ultimately learn to cope with addiction dependencies.
In many cases, a substance abuse counselor will oversee the detox and rehab process, but they also provide ongoing care after treatment. Duties include evaluating the problem, leading group therapy sessions, teaching healthy coping mechanisms, and helping patients find jobs and get their career back on track.
What your counseling job will look like depends on the certification level you obtain before starting your career. A technician, for example functions as a support staff, while a LISAC may choose to open their own practice.
All Substance abuse counselors can expect to assess clients' addictions and behaviors, as well as any other underlying mental health issues. From there, the licensed will develop a plan of action aimed at benefitting not only the client, but their family, friends, and employer.
Drug and Alcohol rehab counselors often work one-on-one with patients in a therapeutic setting. Here, they'll work to uncover the triggers or causes of alcoholism or drug abuse.
Arizona Licensing & Certifications for Associates & Independent Counselors
Substance counesling professionals receive their credentials from a government organization. But, contrary to what you might think, there are actually a few different types of licenses you can get, depending on your goals as a certified professional.
In Arizona, there are three levels of certification, these options differ by education level.
Here is a look at the options:
- Licensed Substance Abuse Technician (LSAT): Associate level education
- Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor (LASAC): Bachelor’s degree only
- Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC): Master’s degree completed
Each level requires a specific set of coursework, and potentially an internship and supervised practice after completing the formal schooling part of one's education. The two higher levels, LASAC and LISAC require that you have degrees from an accredited institution.
All three licenses are obtained through the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. This same board issues licenses to all mental health counselors, social workers, and support staff that work within this field.
All three licensees must have an associate's degree at minimum, even if the candidate intends to go for their technician certification only. That said, there are some special cases where the state might waive this condition.
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This requirement is different than it is in many parts of the nation. Prospective licensees will take examinations that that you'll see in other states. Bachelor's level candidates may get licensed for an associate position, but will need to obtain a Master's level education if they want to advance further in the profession.
Master’s graduates will get their associate license, but it's something of a pit stop on the way to their LISAC.
With a bachelor's degree, a LASAC credential may be a terminal license, meaning, they'll get the opportunity to work in the field without obtaining the additional degree. However, a bachelor's graduate will not achieve the license for two or more years post-degree.
In order to become licensed in Arizona, you must complete a series of steps.
We’ve outlined this a bit above, but there’s no single straight answer for what, exactly, the educational requirements are for the profession as a whole. At the technician level, it’s pretty straightforward. You’ll simply need an associate’s degree from an accredited school. Later, you’ll need to pass the licensing exam.
Arizona LASAC Education Requirements
As you move up to the next two tiers, things get a bit more involved. The rundown for LASAC requirements:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Must be in a relevant major—psychology, marriage and family therapy, or another behavioral science.
- Minimum of 30 credit hours of counseling coursework. Requirements are determined by the credentialing committee.
- 3200+ hours of supervised work experience in a hands-on clinical setting. Must relate to substance abuse.
- 100 hours of supervised clinical work
- Passing score on the licensing exam
- Master’s degree in behavioral science
- 24 completed semester credit hours of counseling-related coursework. Must be approved by the Arizona state board
- Pass the exam
- Read more LASAC requirements resources
Arizona LISAC Education Requirements
Becoming a Licensed Independent Contractor (LISAC) means you must meet the following criteria:
- A master’s degree, minimum, in a behavioral health substance abuse field, with emphasis on counseling. Degrees must, of course, be earned at an accredited college or university.
- 24 credit hours of counseling related coursework—While the board doesn't specify the courses needed, they must be directly related to treatment services, behavioral assessments, and diagnostics. It's also worth pointing out that entry-level classes like psychology 101 don't count toward said coursework--you'll need hands-on experience in this particular field.
- Minimum of 3200 hours of supervised work, specifically in substance abuse counseling, completed in 24 months or less.
- 100 hours spent working under clinical supervision
- 1600 hours working directly with clients
- And finally, passing the exam.
- Read more LISAC requirements resources
Your degree must be in the mental health field--in counseling, general psychology, marriage and family studies, rehabilitation, or another related area. The other part of this is, your degree must be earned at a regionally accredited institution.
(CACREP) or (CORE) Licensure and Certification
Two types of accreditation are recognized in the United States; institutional and specialized. Institutional accreditation takes the entire institution into account while the specialized focus on professional preparation programs. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a specialized accreditation that focuses on master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling at colleges and universities worldwide. Only already-accredited institutions are eligible for CACREP review. The review for accreditation will center on programs offering graduate degrees in counseling.
Choosing a CACREP-accredited substance abuse addiction program ensures that the program meets the highest of quality standards. Many counseling specialties are accredited bythe CACREP, including addiction counseling. Accredited counseling programs prepare individuals to work with those affected by addictive behavior and their families. Addictive behaviors include alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, and anything else that negatively affects your personal or work life by creating addictive behaviors.
CACREP-accredited programs will focus on treatment models and the phases of addiction including prevention, recovery, and relapse prevention. These 60-semester hour programs will include the application of interventions. When students choose a CACREP-accredited program they can be confident that:
- the program meets or exceeds national standards
- the program will focus on professional counseling rather than psychology oreducation
- the program has an excellent reputation
- CACREP graduates statistically receive higher scores on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).
- the requirements for licensure will be met.
Board of Behavioral Health Examiners
The Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners exists to enforce the qualification standards and performance expectations of licensed substance abuse behavioral health professionals. The Board regulates all fields of counseling including marriage and family therapists, social workers, and addiction counselors. The Board also has the responsibility of protecting the public from unethical or unlawful behavioral health professionals. The Board investigates any complaints and enforces disciplinary action.
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- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC)
Clinical Supervision Explained
After completing their education, candidates will need to complete 3,200 hours of supervised practice, with at least half of those hours spent working directly with clients.
Additionally, at least 100 hours of supervised practice must be provided by a LISAC. According to the Board of Behavioral Health Examiners, your clinical supervisor must be licensed for the duration of the training period. Should the license be revoked during that period, those hours will need to be completed again with a supervisor who has a valid license.
Other Supervision Needed:
- You may only log supervision hours when the primary topic was clinical services. For example, things like staff meetings or admin tasks don't typically qualify.
- In group supervision situations, each group must contain six supervisees or fewer.
- The supervisor must spend a minimum of ten hours observing the candidate or reviewing sessions via audio or video recordings.
As the candidate earns supervision hours, the supervisor will need to have a license issued by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. (2)
Counselor Testing & Examination Process
When you’re ready to get your credentials, you first stop should be the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. (3) The organization is responsible for issuing the exams. These guys will review your supervised hours, issue the ICRC exam and the NAADAC Level II or higher examination and review other requirements.
Renewal and Continuing Education
Participate in at least 30 hours of continuing education on an annual basis. Continuing education may come in the form of seminars, college courses, or online courses.
The AZ State Board of Behavioral Health awards 15 hours of continuing education for each 1 credit hour course completed at an accredited college or university. Or, you can look toward classes provided through the
Potential Counselor Career Path Options
- Addiction Counselor
- Alcohol and Drug Counselor
- Behavioral Health Specialist
- Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselor
- Chemical Dependency Counselor
- Mental Health Counselor
- School Counselor
- Substance Abuse Counselor
Associations & Organizations
As we've briefly mentioned above, there are a few associations linked to AZ counselor professionals.
Here's a little background on each and the role they play in helping mental health professionals get certified and stay up-to-date in their field.
- ABCAC---Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners the same Board that issues licenses to mental health and social workers. Licensing information is available from the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.
- Arizona Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors (AzAADAC)— The Arizona chapter of the national organization, the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. The AzAADAC, and by extension, the whole organization is a resource for professionals.
Pros can become members, which grants them access to 145+ hours annually of continuing education, access to their jobs board, plus a whole host of magazines and books.
- IC&RC: The International Credentialing Organization. This resource is a global association that provides training and credentialing in substance abuse counseling, treatment, clinical supervising, and more. According to the IC&RC site, the exams and training courses are updated every five to seven years, in keeping with industry updates. While you’ll need to pass the IC&RC test, you can do so directly with them, or arrange the process through the ABCAC. (5)
In the end, becoming a drug and alcohol counselor isn’t a decision you can make on a whim. We recommend pursuing this career path if you’re truly passionate about helping people. Salaries tend to hover around the $50,000 range, even with a master’s degree.
That said, licensed counselors for drugs and alcohol have the potential to become a force of positive change for their clients, their families, and society, in general.