Steps to Becoming an Addiction Counselor in New York

Substance abuse counselors are licensed professionals who offer their patients who are addicted to alcohol and, or drugs mental health counseling services. They are generally trained to assess, diagnose, evaluate, and provide counseling to both individuals and groups. Additionally, substance abuse counselors know how to intervene and refer appropriately. The settings in which these services are administered can vary greatly but include:

  • Mental Health Centers
  • Detox Centers
  • Hospitals
  • Halfway Houses
  • Probation and Parole Agencies
  • Juvenile Detention Facilities
  • Prisons

Types of Licensing in New York - Associate & Independent Counselors

Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor

Those interested in practicing as a substance abuse counselor in New York must receive professional credentials through the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). OASAS works to verify that all New York substance abuse counselors receive the proper professional development before joining the state’s workforce. They also ensure that all state counselors are competent, ethical, and capable of meeting societal needs. While a number of certifications are available, Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) deals specifically with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction counseling. It’s important to note that CASACs are not permitted to engage in private practice unless they have been given legal permission to do so.

Those interested in becoming a CASAC must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a High School Diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED)
  • Live in New York State at least 51% of the time
  • Sign an affidavit agreeing to abide by the Cannon of Ethical Principles
  • Have three individuals complete an Evaluation of Competency and Ethical Conduct
    • Evaluations must be completed by the following:
      • A current or most recent clinical supervisor
      • A current New York State CASAC or individual with a current reciprocal-level credential issued by a member of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC)
      • A Qualified Health Professional (QHP), as defined by OASAS
  • Document a minimum of 6,000 hours (three years) of full-time work as a provider or supervisor of direct patient services in an approved work setting, as defined by OASAS
    • Acceptable work experience includes:
      • Diagnostic assessment, evaluation, intervention, referral, alcohol and, or substance abuse counseling in individual and group settings
      • Weekly clinical supervision by a QHP
      • Work with the alcoholism and or substance abuse services delivery system for consultations and referrals
      • Practice in alcohol and, or substance abuse counseling designed to sustain recovery and prevent future relapses
  • Pass the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors

CASAC Trainee Certification

Individuals working toward becoming a CASAC may apply for a CASAC Trainee certificate in the state of New York. This designation serves as official documentation that you’re working toward becoming a CASAC. You can be considered for this certificate after the successful completion of the following:

  • 350 clock hours of education and training; or
  • 4,000 hours of work experience, as well as 85 clock hours of education and training in alcoholism and substance abuse

This certificate remains effective for five years and is not renewable. If, however, you’re an exam candidate at the time that your CASAC Trainee certificate expires, you can apply for a three-year extension. An additional $100 fee will be required.

Education Required for Practice in the State of New York

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CASAC candidates must complete and document at least 350 clock hours of education and training that focus on chemical dependence counseling knowledge, skills, and professional techniques. Clock hours are defined as the actual number of hours documented. Successfully completed college credit hours translate to 15 clock hours per one credit hour. This means that a three credit college course will count as 45 clock hours. Continuing education units (CEUs) count as well; one CEU equals a total of 10 clock hours.

The following minimum hour requirements must be met:

  • 85 clock hours in knowledge of alcoholism and substance abuse, including at least four hours in tobacco and nicotine use and dependence
  • 150 clock hours in alcoholism and substance abuse counseling, including at least 15 clock hours in cultural competence
  • 70 clock hours in assessment, clinical evaluation, treatment planning, case management, and patient, family, and community education
  • 45 clock hours in professional and ethical responsibilities, including at least two clock hours of child abuse and maltreatment mandated reporting and at least 15 clock hours in ethics for addiction professionals

Distance learning is permitted, but OASAS only accepts coursework completed through:

  • Accredited colleges and universities
  • Sponsors approved by the National Addiction Technology Transfer Center
  • OASAS-Certified Education and Training Providers

Work Requirements

While OASAS strongly encourages CASAC candidates to obtain work experience in the field, academic degrees in the following approved human services fields can satisfy a portion of the 6,000-hour requirement:

  • Anthropology
  • Art/Dance Therapy
  • Audiology
  • Child Development / Family Relations
  • Community Mental Health
  • Chemical Dependence Administration
  • Counseling / Guidance
  • Criminal Justice
  • Divinity / Religion / Theology
  • Drama Therapy
  • Education
  • Gerontology
  • Health Administration
  • Health Education
  • Music Therapy
  • Nursing / Medicine
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Physical Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Recreational Therapy
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
  • Special Education
  • Speech Pathology
  • Vocational Counseling

It’s important to note that you are unable to claim both a formal internship experience and educational experience towards the CASAC work requirement. You will need to decide which of these two options is most applicable. To determine how much of your educational coursework may satisfy the CASAC education and training requirements, you will need to submit a copy of your transcript(s) with your application. The following substitutions are possible:

  • Associate degrees from accredited institutions may count for up to 1,000 hours of work experience
  • Bachelor’s degrees from accredited institutions may count for up to 2,000 hours of work experience
  • Master’s degrees or higher from accredited institutions may count for up to 4,000 hours of work experience

Clinical Supervision Explained

To apply to become a CASAC in New York, candidate’s work experience must also include at least 300 hours of Supervised Practical Training. You must complete a minimum of 10 hours working within each of the 12 Core Functions. These areas of professional expertise include:

  • Screening
  • Intake
  • Orientation
  • Assessment, Evaluation, and Intervention
  • Referral
  • Treatment Planning
  • Counseling
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Patient Education
  • Case Management
  • Reporting and Record Keeping
  • Consultation with Other Professionals

In order to qualify, hours must be supervised by a QHP.

New York CACREP Accredited Online Counseling Certification

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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 program ensures that the program meets the highest of quality standards. Many counseling specialties are accredited bythe CACREP, including addiction counseling. Accredited addiction 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 addiction 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.

Office of the Professions

Licensing for Mental Health Counselors in New York is the responsibility of the Office of the Professions. New York state uses a unique system of regulation guided by the Regents consisting of a citizen body. The New York State Education Department, under the direction of the Regents and through the Office of the Professions, issues professional regulations. The Office of the Professions reviews the qualifications of candidates for licensure and also fulfills any supervision required by the state. New licensees are allowed to practice under a limited permit while under supervision. New York licensure exam requirements include a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) given by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Address

89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234-1000

Phone

(518) 474-3817 / ext-450

Website Address

http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mhp/

Licensure:

  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)

Addiction Counselor Testing & Examination Process in New York

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In order to take ICRC Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors, candidates must first submit a CASAC application to be reviewed by the OASAS Credentialing Unit. These can be found on the OASAS website. The following items must be submitted with the application:

  • Application Summary form
  • Canon of Ethical Principles, Misconduct, and Other Prohibited Acts Attestation form
  • NYS Justice Center Code of Conduct form
  • Copy of your diploma or transcript(s)
  • Copy of your OASAS 350-hour standardized training certificate or equivalent transcript(s)
  • $100 application processing fee
  • Three Evaluation of Competency and Ethical Conduct forms
  • Work Experience form

CASAC applications are accepted on a rolling basis and, upon completion, your application packet should be mailed to:

NYS OASAS
Attn: Credentialing Unit
1450 Western Avenue
Albany, New York 12203-3526

After your application has been approved, you’ll receive an approval letter with information on how to complete the CASAC Examination Registration form and $245 exam fee. If the application is found to be incomplete, you will have five years to address the discrepancies.

The ICRC Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors is a computer-based test composed of 150 multiple-choice questions. It’s offered on a weekly basis but, if failed, can only be taken every 90 days. Each attempt at the exam will cost an additional $245.

Adequate preparation for the ICRC Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors is essential. While coursework taken specifically to prepare for the exam does not count toward the education and training requirements, OASAS recommends that candidates become familiar with the following:

  • The various models and theories of chemical abuse and, or dependency-related issues
  • Social, political, economic, and cultural context in which drug and alcohol abuse and, or dependency exist
  • The behavioral, psychological, and physical health effects of chemical abuse and, or dependence on patients and their significant others
  • The potential for chemical abuse and, or dependence to copy other various medical and psychological disorders
  • The potential for medical and psychological disorders to exist simultaneously with chemical abuse and, or dependence
  • The philosophies, practices, policies, and outcomes of accepted treatment, recovery, and relapse prevention for issues related to chemical abuse and, or addiction
  • The importance of family, social, and community networks in chemical abuse and, or addiction treatment and recovery
  • The value of approaching chemical abuse and, or dependence treatment from a number of different disciplines
  • The use of established diagnostic criteria and a variety of treatment options when providing continuous care for chemical abuse and, or dependence
  • The use of a variety of counseling strategies based on patient dependency and stage of recovery
  • The medical and pharmaceutical resources available to assist in the treatment of chemical abuse and, or dependence
  • The incorporation of diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural needs within special population
  • The obligation to focus on chemical abuse and, or addiction prevention in addition to treatment
  • The obligation to remain ethical and accept all behavioral standards of conduct with regards to the patient-counselor relationship
  • The English language, including both speaking and writing it

Renewal and Continuing Education

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CASAC certification must be renewed every three years. You will need to request a Renewal Application Packet from the Credentialing Unit by calling 1-800-482-9564. This packet must be submitted to OASAS at least 45 days prior to your CASAC expiration. Once approved, you’ll receive a new certificate.

As part of the renewal process, you will be asked to submit documentation to prove the successful completion of a minimum of 60 clock hours of continuing professional education. This education must be completed within the credentialed period and consists of any kind of relevant training session, seminar, workshop, or in-service from a provider that is approved by OASAS including:

  • Accredited colleges and universities
  • State, federal, or local government authorities
  • Nationally recognized professional organizations

Additional continuing education conditions to keep in mind include:

  • Repeat coursework will not be counted
  • A maximum of 20 clock hours in professional development may be claimed
  • A maximum of 28 clock hours of professional activities, including delivering presentations, teaching, volunteering, or writing published articles, may be claimed

You must also arrange for your current or most recent supervisor or program director to complete the Evaluation of Competency and Ethical Conduct form. This will need to be submitted with the rest of your CASAC renewal packet.

Potential New York Counselor Career Path Options

  • Addiction Counselor
  • Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselor
  • Behavioral Health Specialist
  • Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselor
  • Chemical Dependency Counselor
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • School Counselor
  • Substance Abuse Counselor

Associations in New York

The Association for Addiction Professionals of New York (AAPNY) is the state affiliate of NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, which represents over 100,000 addiction professionals in the United States. AAPNY works to advance the profession, as well as provide support to addiction counselors in New York.

Sources:

Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) Requirements. Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.