What is Addiction Counseling?
Addiction counselors work to help people struggling with alcoholism, drug addictions, and all of the symptoms associated with these conditions. While they provide a wide variety of services, one of their primary responsibilities is assisting their patients in managing the physical and psychological difficulties that often accompany addictions. These professionals also serve as advocates, promoting the understanding of addiction as a real and difficult medical condition. They frequently work with patients one-on-one, but may offer group sessions as well. It’s not uncommon for these professionals to have patients from a wide variety of demographics including teenagers, adults, veterans, and people with disabilities. It is possible, though, to specialize in the treatment of a specific population type.
While addiction counselors often help their patients with mental and physical health issues, they are not permitted to prescribe medications. They can, however, make referrals to medical practitioners based on their assessments. In fact, they frequently coordinate with other medical and mental health professionals when developing and managing patient treatment plans. As a result, these professionals tend to have many established relationships with other healthcare providers.
Jobs can differ significantly, with those who own private practices establishing their own expectations. In general, the most common responsibilities include evaluating clients and assessing readiness for treatment, developing and reviewing treatment plans and goals, and assisting in skills and behavior development. Some addiction counselors also schedule appointments with the family members of patients. Meetings like this are typically meant to provide addiction education or to assist in the development of various coping strategies.
There are numerous employment opportunities available to addiction counselors but the majority of professionals in this field work in individual and family service centers, hospitals, or residential substance abuse facilities. While the work can be extremely rewarding, it’s also often stressful and demanding. Large workloads may lead to evening, night, and weekend hours.
Addiction Counseling Education in Kansas
Are you considering enrolling in an addiction counseling degree program in Kansas? This is an ideal major for individuals who are interested in helping people recover from drug and/or alcohol dependencies. While sometimes stressful and emotionally difficult, there are many benefits associated with a career in this field. Most notable is the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others, as well as sustained job security.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to increase by 23% from 2020 to 2030. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. Based on this number, these career fields can expect to see approximately 41,000 new job openings each year. Most of these positions will become available due to the need to replace workers transferring to different occupations or exiting the labor force entirely. Additionally, more and more people are beginning to seek addiction counseling services, especially in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. Further, several states are moving toward treatment requirements instead of sentencing them to jail time for some offenses.
The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the fourth largest in Kansas. It accounts for $13.7 billion in revenue each year. Data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that employment for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is fair. This sector accounted for 1,790 jobs in May 2020. The annual mean wage for local professionals in this field was $45,780, which is higher than the national median wage of $41,950 as reported for all occupations.
The demand for qualified addiction counselors in Kansas is unlikely to diminish any time soon. As a result, many colleges and universities offer relevant academic programs for prospective students. Those planning to practice in the state should strongly consider attending one of these programs. While it’s possible to enroll in online addiction counseling programs offered anywhere in the country, only Kansas schools develop curriculums designed specifically to prepare graduates for work within the state afterward. It’s also worth noting that many institutions also have established relationships with potential employers and private practices offering supervised positions. These connections can make it easier to find employment in top areas of interest.
The majority of employment opportunities related to addiction counseling require candidates to have, at minimum, bachelor’s degrees. Requirements vary by state, however, so it’s important to consider local standards prior to enrolling in a degree program. Addiction counselors in Kansas must have either bachelor’s or master’s degrees, depending on the level of licensure sought.
While it may be possible to find employment in the state without formal education, those with degrees and additional credentials will have the best employment prospects. There are programs available at every academic level, making it easy for prospective students to find options that suit their specific academic and professional goals.
Associate Degree in Addiction Counseling (AS)
The majority of addiction counselors earn, at minimum, bachelor’s degrees in addiction counseling or a related field. Some colleges and universities do, however, offer associate degrees designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of patient treatment. These typically only consist of about 60 credit hours of coursework and can be completed within two years by those attending school full-time.
Every curriculum is different, with both liberal arts and major specific coursework included.
Some of the most common topics at this level are:
- Theories of Counseling
- Case Management
- Family and Group Counseling
- Multicultural Counseling
Graduates can pursue work as human services assistants, halfway house administrative assistances, and adolescent counselors. With additional education, they can also apply for a Kansas state license.
It’s also important to note that most four-year colleges and universities do accept transfer credits from accredited institutions. This is significant, as associate degree graduates can have credits applied towards bachelor’s degrees in the future. Choosing to attend a community college for the first two years of a four-year degree can be much more cost effective, as these institutions generally charge less per credit hour than larger schools.
Bachelor's Degree in Addiction Counseling (BS)
As previously mentioned, bachelor’s degrees are the minimum standard for addiction counselors in Kansas. Students are not limited to addiction counseling majors, however, as programs in psychology, sociology, clinical social work, and mental health counseling are also suitable. Most of these also offer concentrations in substance abuse.
Bachelor’s degrees consist of around 120 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Those attending classes part-time may need an additional two to four years to graduate.
Every college and university program is different, but required courses may include:
- Group and Individual Counseling
- Social Research Methods
- Diagnosis of Chemical or Behavioral Dependency
- Psychological Evaluations and Assessments
- Pharmacology and Psychopharmacology
Graduates can choose to pursue employment opportunities and may be qualified to apply to become Licensed Addiction Counselors (LACs). Job availability may be limited, with positions often given to professionals with more education. Earning a bachelor’s degree in counseling or a related field is also the first step to enrolling in graduate-level degree programs. Most colleges and universities will also expect minimum grade point averages and GRE test scores.
Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling (MS)
Earning a master’s in addiction counseling or a related field is necessary to become a Licensed Clinical Addition Counselor (LCAC) in Kansas. Completing this level of education and obtaining the appropriate licensure permits professionals to provide a more extensive array of services to clients. Earning a graduate degree in addiction counseling will also make candidates more competitive during the job hiring process.
Most master’s degrees consist of around 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Program specifics vary, but most are designed to provide students with in-depth knowledge regarding various counseling approaches and research methods. Graduate programs also tend to offer participants opportunities to practice skills gained in controlled settings. It’s not uncommon for degrees at this level to require a thesis or capstone project prior to graduation.
Every college and university is different, but required courses may include:
- Testing and Assessment
- Human Growth and Development
- Addiction Prevention and Intervention
- Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
- Psychopathology and Personality Disorders
- Building Your Ideal Private Practice
PhD Degree in Addiction Counseling (PhD)
A doctoral degree is not required to practice as an addiction counselor in Kansas, but choosing to obtain one can increase employment prospects. These programs are generally best for professionals who are already licensed and want to pursue positions in leadership, substance abuse research, and/or education at the postsecondary level.
Most doctoral degrees consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students five to seven years to complete. Programs are designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of the social and cultural causes behind addiction.
Every institution is different and curriculum is often based on student interest, but required courses may include:
- Epidemiology of Drug and Substance Abuse
- History of Addiction and Human Behavior
- Prevention of Chemical Abuse in Childhood
- Group Psychotherapy Techniques and Treatment Methods
Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Kansas
The first step in becoming an addiction counselor in Kansas is determining the type of professional you intend to be. Your goals will directly impact the level of education necessary, which can greatly impact your academic program choices. Earning an addiction counseling degree also does not necessitate becoming an addiction counselor; there are many other professions available that may be worth considering.
It’s important to realize, however, that all 50 states and the District of Columbia require substance abuse counselors in private practice to be licensed. There are two levels of licensure available in the Kansas: Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) and Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor (LCAC). LACs are required to have bachelor’s degrees, while LCACs must have master’s degrees. Candidates for both options must meet several other standards as well.
LAC is the lowest licensure option. Candidates can have bachelor’s degrees in addiction counseling, psychology, sociology, social work, or a highly related area. They must pass a criminal background check, as well as complete a practicum with 600 hours of providing counseling services. Additionally, they must have 100 hours of individual supervision and pass a national standardized exam. Required coursework includes addiction treatment, method of individual counseling, methods of group counseling, pharmacology, co-occurring disorder, addiction services coordination, legal and ethical issues, family and community studies, and research.
LCAC is the top level of licensure in the state, allowing addiction counselors to offer more services with less supervisory oversight. Those seeking certification must, however, complete a graduate practicum with 350 hours of supervised experience providing approved counseling services. They also need 35 hours of direct individual supervision and must pass the national standardized exam. Coursework must cover addiction recovery services, methods of individual and group counseling, clinical supervision, pharmacology, integrative dual disorders, diagnosis of substance use disorders, professional legal and ethical issues, and research.
Careers for Addiction Counseling Graduates
- Clinical Social Worker
Clinical social workers provide therapy to individuals who require mental or emotional support. This type of work also often entails communicating with patients, conducting psychosocial evaluations, coordinating patient care interactions, and negotiating with party groups. These professionals are typically employed by hospitals, mental health clinics, residential nursing facilities, home healthcare companies, or substance abuse treatment centers. According to PayScale, clinical social workers make an average base salary of $57,600 per year.
- Sports Psychologist
Sports psychologists help athletes and coaches prepare for the demands of athletic training and competition. This often entails assisting athletes in dealing with the consequences of sustaining injuries related to their sports, as well as assisting referees and coaches in coping with the stresses related to their respective roles. According to PayScale, sports psychologists make an average base salary of $72,257 per year.
- Residential Counselor
Residential counselors provide a wide variety of counseling services to residents located at live-in facilities. They achieve this by providing individual and group counseling on-site, especially after conflicts or in response to crises in the residence. This type of work often necessitates working with numerous patient types, such as people with addictions and disabilities, as well as the elderly and trouble youth. According to PayScale, residential counselors make an average base hourly rate of $14.46, or approximately $39,700 per year.
- Career Counselor
Career counselors help their clients identify and pursue the most personally appealing and professionally optimal career paths available to them. These professionals often start this process by administering tests that assess personality, interests, and aptitude. They also provide personalized advice regarding education requirements for jobs of interest. It’s not uncommon for them to assist with career changes, background evaluations, and mock interviews. According to PayScale, career counselors make an average base salary of $46,450 per year.
- Grief Counselor
Grief counselors, or bereavement counselors, help people process through the deaths of family members and friends, along with all related emotional issues. This often entails guiding patients through the various stages of grief and encouraging healthy coping mechanisms. These professionals must be able to listen to and connect with patients in order to better understand the underlying feelings and emotions involved with their losses. According to PayScale, grief counselors make an average base salary of $46,850 per year.
- Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors diagnose and treat a wide variety of mental health problems and illnesses. They meet with patients one-on-one and in groups, offering advice and support that will help them work through or resolve their existing issues. These professionals may specialize in particular areas, such as young adult therapy or addiction. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $44,250 per year.
- Behavioral Therapist
Behavioral therapists use a wide variety of behavioral techniques to assist in the treatment of various mental health disorders. This often entails identifying appropriate treatment plans and documenting how treatment is progressing. These professionals often work to help patients modify and replace behaviors at home, in the community, and in clinical environments. According to PayScale, behavioral therapists make an average base hourly rate of $17.44, which translates to approximately $41,650 per year.