Requirements for becoming a licensed substance abuse counselor in New Hampshire are somewhat more rigorous than in many other states. While the state is small in size and relatively small in population, the need for substance abuse counseling is still great and the need is growing. Substance abuse counselors can literally save lives, and put lives back on track.
In New Hampshire, the state Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Professionals is responsible for licensing and credentialing of alcohol and substance abuse professionals. The NHBLAODUP is a member of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).
Types of Licensure for New Hampshire
New Hampshire licenses professionals as Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADCs) and Master Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (MLADCs).
LADC candidates must have at least an associate’s degree in either substance abuse counseling, addiction studies or a similar field. If the candidate has earned a bachelor’s degree, it must be in the counseling/addiction field or human services, psychology, social work or clinical mental health.
An LADC candidate must have 270 hours of alcohol and drug education, along with 300 hours of practical training. The 270 hours include six hours of substance abuse-related HIV/AIDS training, six hours of ethics training and six hours of confidentiality training. Not more than 25 percent of the 270 hours may take place via approved distance learning.
The LADC candidate pass 18 categories of competence. These consist of:
Data collection – Collection of important information relating to a client’s history and lifestyle.
Diagnosis of drug/alcohol dependence – knowing indicators for diagnostic purposes of substance abuse.
Initiating treatment – Setting goals and objectives for treatment, along with aiding the client in following the treatment plan.
Crisis response – Identifying a crisis as well as determining its severity.
Human growth and development – Understanding physical, emotional, social and intellectual development
Counseling – Knowledge of various counseling techniques and approaches.
Therapeutic relationship – Developing a rapport and relationship with the client, and assisting the client with gaining insights into their issues.
Evaluation – Learning to evaluate both a program and its effectiveness on a client.
Termination and follow-up – Determining when termination is appropriate and forming a discharge plan.
Recordkeeping – Accurately take and maintain all aspects of client records.
Verbal communication – The ability to verbally communicate effectively with clients, staff and colleagues.
Regulatory issues – Knowledge of New Hampshire and federal regulatory issues relating to client confidentiality, substance abuse and other topics.
Community utilization – Identifying and coordinating existing community resources to benefit the client.
Alcohol and drugs – Knowledge of the effect of alcohol and commonly abused drugs on the human body.
Sociological factors – Cultural influences affecting substance abuse and factors relating to the client’s race, gender, age and ethnicity.
Physiological medical factors – Knowledge of the short and long-term effects of substance abuse on the client’s body and overall health.
Psychological psychiatric factors – Knowledge of the short and long-term effects of substance abuse on the client’s emotional and mental health.
Treatment – Knowledge of progression of addiction and recovery and components of the treatment continuum.
The MLADC candidate must have not only a master’s degree, but 60 complete semester hours of graduate coursework. The MLADC candidate must also have 270 hours of alcohol and drug counseling education, along with 300 hours of practical training, with supervision.
Residency Requirements and Background Checks
New Hampshire does not require that LADC and MLADC licensees are state residents, but it does require that applicants live or work in the state at least 51 percent of the time. Candidates must be United States citizens or hold legal alien status, and must speak and write English. All applicants must pass a criminal background check and have their fingerprints taken by either a law enforcement agency or by a Department of Safety employee. The current fee for fingerprinting is $260.
Testing Process for New Hampshire
LADC candidates must take the IC&RC’s Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) examination. MLADC candidates must take both the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) examination and the Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP) exam. If the candidate has a New Hampshire license in mental health, only the AADC exam is necessary. Scheduling for the exams is arranged through the company providing the computer-based tests. Currently, the test is $110 for LADC candidates and $300 for MLADC candidates.
Applications for the test are available from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. LADC and MLADC applicants must fill out and submit the initial application form, along with the confidential page for the applicant’s Social Security information. They must fill out or have the correct entity fill out and submit the appropriate supervised practical training report form; applicant work experience form; supervisor work experience form; employment verification form; educational training and summary form; counselor evaluation form; professional reference form; supervision agreement and the exam form and cover letter. Applicants must also have official transcripts sent to the department. In cases of non-academic education, verify these either by sending a letter from the supervisors or enclosing a certificates of attendance. If training is not approved, a course description is required.
The ICRC exam’s questions are in a multiple choice format, and the candidate chooses between four possible responses. Of these four choices, only one answer is considered the best, and candidates receive credit only for choosing the best response. Upon successful completion of the exam, candidates must send in the ICRC verification form to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Once the test is passed and all clinical supervision requirements are complete and verified, the candidate may apply for licensure from the Department.
Along with the tests, candidates must submit a written case study. The form is available through the state Department of Health and Human Services. The case study is based on a closed case file concerning an actual client. Once the exam is passed, the case study approved and all clinical supervision requirements are complete and verified, the candidate may apply for licensure.
Clinical Supervision Explained
An LADC candidate with an associate’s degree requires 6,000 hours of clinical supervised practice, a high number than needed in many other states. If the LADC candidate has a bachelor's degree, 4,000 hours of supervised practice is required, which is more typical of IC&RC boards nationwide.
The MLADC candidate needs 3,000 hours of supervised practice, but those licensed by the New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice receive credit for as much as 1,500 hours.
Clinical supervision involves an ongoing relationship between a senior member and junior member of the profession. Clinical supervision aids in both professional development and client protection. It includes regular review and criticism of the junior professional’s skills in order to improve these skills.
On the LADC level, weekly clinical supervision is necessary. MLADCs do not have to maintain clinical supervision per se, but require 26 hours per year of peer collaboration to maintain the license. That is just over two hours monthly.
Every clinician must document their clinical supervision. Such documentation includes time, date, length of meeting, identification of all participants with names and credentials, along with their signatures.
Licenses are renewable every two years, with a renewal date of June 30. Currently, LADC licenses are $110 and MLADC licenses are $300. Renewals and fee payment are available online.
Renewals must include the licensee’s continuing education credits, which for a two year period equals 48 hours, or two hours per month, for both LADCs and MLADCs. Only 10 of these 48 hours may take place via approved distance learning. Continuing education is acceptable in various forms, including conferences, workshops, lectures, academic studies, seminars, extension studies, in-service education, institutes, independent/home study programs, and online courses. Continuing education event preapproval forms are available from the state Department of Heath and Human Services.
The NHBLAODUP may license out-of-state substance abuse and addiction counselors whose credentials were based on similar requirements. Since the state board is a member of the IC&RC, those with reciprocal level credentials in other member states may contact the IC&RC. Currently, receiving reciprocity requires a $100 fee.
Associations for New Hampshire
The New Hampshire Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors Association (NHADACA) serves as the primary provider of continuing educational services for substance abuse and addictions professionals in the state. This mission of this nonprofit organization, created in 1986 and located in Concord, states it will “provide quality education, workforce development, advocacy, ethical standards and leadership for addiction professionals. We empower efforts in prevention, treatment and recovery.”
The New Hampshire Center for Excellence was established and funded through a public-private partnership of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services' Bureau of Drug & Alcohol Services and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. It is supported by the New Hampshire’s Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Intervention and Treatment and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Its mission is to “provide technical assistance, disseminate data and information, and promote knowledge transfer to support the effectiveness of communities, practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholders working to reduce alcohol and other drug misuse and related consequences in New Hampshire.”
Partnership for a Drug-free New Hampshire, organized in 1994 under the auspices of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, is a nonprofit organization striving to “create and promote consistent statewide messages about the problems and solutions of substance misuse in New Hampshire through engagement of partners, members and champions.”