In Vermont, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADC) are required to obtain licensure for their level of education and experience. Before receiving their licenses to practice, each counselor has to complete several requirements, such as attaining their master’s degree at minimum.
Once they have received their licenses, LADCs have to complete several activities apart from their daily work, so they can renew their licenses before they expire. These activities include undergoing a specific number of clinical supervision hours; participating in and completing continuing education hours. Without these two requirements, you won’t be allowed to renew your license as a LADC.
If you are applying for your first license to practice as a counselor, you’re also required to submit documentation of your education along with your license application. Before you receive your license, you’re also required to sit for a mandatory licensing exam—hang onto your textbooks, because you will be reviewing them before your exam.
Types of Licensure in Vermont
Before you begin work as a LADC in a substance abuse treatment facility, you’ll be required to show proof that you have earned your master’s degree in a field that supports substance abuse treatment. This can include psychology, social work or marriage and family counseling.
The Vermont Certification Board administers the IC&RC exam, which, if you pass it, allows you to be certified in Vermont.
LADCs are also required to undergo 3,000 hours per year of clinical supervision. Your clinical supervisor should observe you providing direct services to your clients for your supervision to be allowed by the state. LADCs who have been grandfathered in must provide documentation of 6,000 clinically supervised direct service hours. For both categories of LADC, the documentation must be signed by your clinical supervisor
Because you are working with clients struggling with abuse and life issues, you’ll also be required to take an ethics course pertinent to substance abuse treatment, HIPAA regulations and CFR 42 (The Federal Drug and Alcohol Confidentiality Law). This applies only to providers who are federally assisted. This pertains to licensing, IRS grant assistance, federal supervision and federal funding. Maintaining the confidentiality of your clients ensures compliance with this law.
Hold an IC&RC certification from either a U.S. or Canadian jurisdiction; possess an ADC certification under the same rules or meet every eligibility requirement for the ADC certification, other than the supervised clinical practice rule. You should have completed 2,000 hours of post-degree clinically supervised practice under established standards in Part 5. Pass the IC&RC Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) exam or a similar exam of equal or superior rigor and relevance that is acceptable to the Director.
You may hold a cross-licensure or endorsement from another jurisdiction or field, including an equivalent foreign license in good standing; an acceptably similar foreign license or another professional counseling credential (independent clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, clinical mental health counselor who has been licensed in good standing in Vermont or a foreign jurisdiction acceptable to the Director.
Once you have completed all of these requirements, you should submit the documentation and your license application to the Vermont Department of Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (ADAP). Your paperwork will be reviewed by one of the Department’s Substance Abuse Programs Treatment coordinators to verify that you have satisfied all requirements. If this is verified, you’ll receive approval for your licensure from the Deputy Director’s office.
The next level (Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) requirements include: must be 18 years old or older; proof of completion of 270 hours of substance abuse disorder education; provide proof of completion of these hours with an official transcript sent to the Department; hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program at an accredited university; proof of 4,000 hours of clinically supervised work experience; satisfactorily pass the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam (or another exam with greater or equally relevant rigor and relevance acceptable to the director).
Vermont has a Substance Abuse and Treatment Block Grant (federal) which allows a few unlicensed individuals to provide substance abuse services that are state-funded. These unlicensed providers are required to be supervised by LADCs. This category is unique to Vermont and aimed at counselors whose education and training levels fall below those required for an ADC. These providers must be 18 or older, have a high school diploma or GED, possess professional fitness, reveal any arrests or convictions in their histories, complete 34 hours of substance abuse counseling, substance abuse, recovery, prevention and co-occurring disorders training. They must also have six hours of ethics practice and theory. This provider must be involved in volunteer or paid volunteer work which is supervised one hour weekly by an ADC (ultimately an LADC). They must show proof of 16 hours of actual employment connected to skills and knowledge related to the core domains of substance abuse counseling.
The Apprentice Addiction Professional (AAP) can receive certification to practice substance abuse counseling by meeting these requirements: 18 years of age or older; receiving an associate’s (two-year degree from an accredited community college program) degree; within five years before applying for certification, you have completed at least 40 hours of substance use disorder education—your courses should have included screening, assessment and engagement; treatment planning, collaboration with other agencies and referral; addictions counseling and a minimum of six hours of professional ethics theory. This last requirement should include HIPAA and CFR 42 Part 2 experience (respecting the confidentiality of the records of substance abuse disorder clients; employment or approval for employment as an AAP at an ADAP certified provider’s office and, finally; pass the AAP certification exam.
Alcohol and Drug Counselors (ADC) are required to: Take the following required topics in training; substance use disorder counseling and treatment—36 hours; 6 hours of training in co-morbid medical disorders; 6 hours of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and psychopharmaceuticals; 6 hours of professional and ethical responsibilities; remaining 216 training hours can cover multi-cultural diversity, human development, substance use screening, engagement strategies/motivational interviewing (task alliance), understanding of DSM, substance use screening, case management and service coordination, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria, neurobiology of addiction and dependence on substances, clinical assessment and treatment planning and relapse prevention.
If the ADC’s university courses were completed ten or more years before they applied for licensure, they may be rejected by the Director, especially if the applicant doesn’t have the required familiarity with current addiction science and practice standards.
Licensure Testing in Vermont
In Vermont, testing and licensure is divided between the different categories of substance abuse counselors.
As an ADC, you need to pass the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam or one of equal or higher rigor and relevance.
If you are an LADC, you need an IC&RC certification from the US or Canada or an ADC certification under Vermont’s licensing rules.
Clinical supervision must be conducted by a supervisor who holds their LADC of at least one year of full-time professional experience, in good standing.
A licensed psychologist, independent clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist or clinical mental health counselor, who is in good standing with the Vermont Board can provide clinical supervision. This supervisor should have completed addiction counseling training after obtaining at least one year of full-time addiction counseling experience.
An osteopathic or allopathic doctor who has been certified in addiction medicine by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Board of Psychology and Neurology, the American Osteopathic Association or another equivalent certification body, which has been approved by the director, can also provide clinical supervision.
Clinical supervision must be of direct clinical counseling services rather than indirect services. This must make up one-half of any supervised work experience. No less than half of the required supervised hours are required to be earned within five years of completing other licensure requirements. Supervised activities should include professional and ethical responsibilities, treatment planning, collaborative work and referral, counseling and screening, assessment and engagement.
Renewal and Continuing Education
As an ADC, you are required to document your continuing education hours, which can be received in in-house training, workshops, on-the-job training or continuing education seminars. Over the life of your licensure, you must obtain one-half of your hours within ten years of receiving your certification., with no more than fifteen hours being provided in in-service training where three hours of your training count as one hour of training.
If you are an LADC, you must renew your license every two years. Undergo and document 40 hours of continuing education for renewal of your license. Your license expires at midnight on the date of expiration, which is printed on your license.
If you obtain your initial license fewer than ninety days before the beginning of the next fixed biennial period, it will be valid for the full two years following your initial licensure.
You must receive and document satisfactory completion of 40 hours of continuing education within the first full two-year licensing period following issuance of your first license. This applies to each subsequent two-year licensing period.
Six of the 40 continuing education hours should come from professional ethics, including HIPAA, NAADAC Code of Ethics and 42 CFR Part 2. Twelve of the 40 hours have to cover substance abuse disorders as the primary or co-occurring disorder.
To figure your continuing education hours, one contact hour is 60 minutes of interactive, participatory learning, which is proven with a certificate of attendance.
Designated-agency in-service training can count for 30 of the 40 required continuing education hours, as long as that training is open to participation by qualified practitioners employed by other agencies.
Vermont state associations for ADCs and LADCs include the Vermont Addiction Professionals’ Association, which is an affiliate of NAADAC. It provides leadership, advocacy for improvements in the addiction field, and support to substance abuse counselors. Counselors who join and pay annual dues are members of this association.
The Vermont Addiction Professionals Association or VAPA provides education programs and contact information for education providers.