Note: This module has not yet been updated since the original Addictionary published in 1992. We may decide to update it.
Certification is a process by which addiction professionals are evaluated for their knowledge, experience, and skills in a certain area of addiction. Being certiﬁed does not guarantee that a particular counselor is competent. Nor can you be sure that a counselor who is not certiﬁed is less qualiﬁed than a certiﬁed counselor. But it would be wise to ask whether your counselor is certiﬁed in the addiction for which you are being treated, and if not, why not.
Academic degrees are also important. These days, a good addiction counselor should have a master’s degree in a counseling ﬁeld, or its equivalent. Counselors without a master’s degree in psychology, social work, or other counseling discipline should be willing to tell you how they obtained the knowledge and skills in psychology and human behavior needed to be a good counselor.
There are very few universities that offer degrees in alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, codependency, compulsive gambling, or even in addiction counseling. So the certiﬁcation supplements academic degrees by telling you, the consumer, that these individuals have specialized in the area for which they are certiﬁed, and have met certain experience, knowledge, and skill measurements that suggest that they are qualiﬁed to treat the addiction for which they are certiﬁed.
Almost every state in the US has at least one organization that certiﬁes alcoholism counselors, drug counselors, or a combined alcohol and drug certiﬁcation. The name of this dual certiﬁcation varies widely. Examples are certiﬁed alcohol and drug counselor, certiﬁed chemical dependency counselor, certiﬁed substance abuse counselor, certiﬁed counselor/alcohol and other drug abuse, and certiﬁed addictions professional. Most state certifying bodies belong to and meet the reciprocity standards of the National Certiﬁcation Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Inc. (NCRC/AODA).
The road to a national standard for alcohol and drug counselor certiﬁcation has been long and arduous. Several professional organizations have worked both with and against each other, and their disagreements are not likely to be fully resolved anytime soon.
NCRC The National Certiﬁcation Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Inc. (NCRC/AODA) developed to help certiﬁed counselors who move from one state to another. In the process they created a de facto standard for certiﬁcation including education, experience, and skill requirements. They developed a Case Presentation Method to measure addiction counseling skills. They also began offering a national level certiﬁcation to supplement the state level certiﬁcation.
NAADAC The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors, Inc. (NAADAC) represents member counselors in most states. They have also developed a similar national level certiﬁcation.
Employee assistance professionals can now be certiﬁed by the Employee Assistance Certiﬁcation Commission of the Employee Assistance Professionals’ Association (EAPA).
Therapists who work with compulsive gambling may be eligible for certiﬁcation also. For information contact the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
The only professional certiﬁcation directly related to eating disorders are the titles Certiﬁed Eating Disorders Counselor and Certiﬁed Eating Disorders Therapist. These are granted by the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP).
Certiﬁcation is also available for physicians and nurses who specialize in the treatment of addictions. Contact the appropriate professional organization for information.
For the addresses of these associations that offer certiﬁcation, see the module Professional organizations.
Certiﬁcation, see also: Alcoholism, Core functions, Counseling, Drugs, Dual diagnosis, Employee assistance programs, Impaired professionals, Intervention, Professional organizations, Therapy & treatment.
Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson
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