Core Functions

Note: This module has not been updated since the original Addictionary (1992). Much of the information in it is obsolete. The module Professional organizations is more current but less detailed.

The National Certification Reciprocity Consortium / Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Inc., established a set of twelve “core functions” necessary for addictions counselors. This list became the de facto standard of skills required for certification of alcohol and drug counselors. The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals, Inc., has (with permission) implemented this concept for certification of eating disorders counselors and therapists as well.


These twelve core functions and their official definitions are:

  1. Screening   The process by which a client is determined appropriate and eligible for admission to a particular program.
  2. Intake   The administrative and initial assessment procedures for admission to a program.
  3. Orientation   Describing to the client
    • general nature and goals of the program
    • rules governing client conduct and infractions that can lead to disciplinary action or discharge from the program
    • in a nonresidential program, the hours during which services are available
    • treatment costs to be borne by the client, if any
    • client’s rights
  4. Assessment   Those procedures by which a counselor/program identifies and evaluates an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, problems, and needs for the development of the treatment plan.
  5. Treatment planning   Process by which the counselor and the client:
    • identify and rank problems needing resolution
    • establish agreed-upon immediate and long-term goals
    • decide on the treatment methods and resources to be used
  6. Counseling   (Individual, group, and significant others) The utilization of special skills to assist individuals, families, or groups in achieving objectives through:
    • exploration of a problem and its ramifications
    • examination of attitudes and feelings
    • consideration of alternative solutions
    • decision making
  7. Case management   Activities that bring services, agencies, resources, or people together within a planned framework of action toward the achievement of established goals. It may involve liaison activities and collateral contacts.
  8. Crisis intervention   Those services that respond to a client’s needs during acute emotional or physical distress.
  9. Client education   Provision of information to individuals and groups concerning addiction and the available services and resources.
  10. Referral   Identifying the needs of the client that cannot be met by the counselor or agency and assisting the client to utilize the support systems and community resources available.
  11. Reports and recordkeeping   Charting the results of the assessment and treatment plan; writing reports, progress notes, discharge summaries, and other client-related data.
  12. Consultation   Relating with counselors and other professionals in regard to treatment (services) to assure comprehensive, quality care for the client.

Core functions, see also: Certification, Counseling, Disease concept, Dual diagnosis, Employee assistance programs, Impaired professionals, Intervention, Professional organizations, Psychological problems, Therapy & treatment.

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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