What is Substance Abuse Counseling?
A college degree in addiction counseling can lead to a wide variety of community and social service careers in Wyoming. While not ideal for everyone, this major is perfect for individuals interested in making a positive impact in the lives of others.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to increase by 22% from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and will result in an additional 43,600 new job openings throughout the nation each year.
Generally, addiction counseling professionals utilize numerous specialized techniques and offer various services meant to help people who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse conditions. They often work directly with patients, helping them learn how to manage the many associated physical and psychological difficulties. These professionals may also meet with family members and friends of those impacted by the condition to provide information and insight.
The daily duties and responsibilities of substance use disorder professionals in Wyoming vary based on their certification and licensure levels. Licensed Addictions Therapists (LATs) have the most authority and can provide services without oversight. Certified Addictions Practitioners (CAPs) and Certified Addictions Practitioners Assistants (CAPAs), on the other hand, require supervision and may be prohibited from performing certain tasks.
Responsibilities can also vary due to work setting. Many addiction counseling professionals provide services in private practices or outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers. They may also be hired by family services facilities, hospitals, residential mental health centers, and the government.
Online Addiction Counseling Education in Wyoming
The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the eight largest in Wyoming. It accounts for $1.9 billion in revenue each year. As of May 2021 the state only employed 520 of these professionals, however. Their annual mean wage was $61,840, which is above the annual mean wage of $52,110 for all occupations in Wyoming.
Compare Online Substance Abuse Counseling Schools
Many colleges and universities offer degree programs in addiction counseling and related subjects throughout the nation. Those who plan to seek employment in Wyoming may want to give preference to schools within the state, however. These colleges and universities are more familiar with local certification and licensing requirements, often ensuring students are properly prepared to meet them before graduation.
In most cases, addiction counseling professionals are responsible to some extent for assessing the needs of addiction patients and providing appropriate treatments. They create and review treatment plans, help manage recovery goals, and assist in the development of positive skills and behaviors. Because addicts are often diagnosed with multiple physical and emotional conditions, it’s fairly common for these professionals to coordinate with other medical and mental health providers to facilitate the most effective care. Addiction counseling professionals may also serve as advocates, creating educational programs and/or events to help others better understand substance use and abuse disorder.
All certified and licensed addiction counseling professionals in Wyoming must have some amount of higher education. Fortunately, many of the colleges and universities in the state offer this major. Prospective students can choose from programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Many institutions also offer addiction counseling minors. As employment opportunities typically depend on the amount of education achieved, it’s important to carefully consider career goals prior to selecting and enrolling in a program.
Online Associate Degree in Addiction Counseling (AS)
Online associate degrees in addiction counseling generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. As an undergraduate program, students must take both general liberal arts education and major-specific classes. The result is a broad introduction to higher education and the counseling field. Curriculums vary, but instruction tends to cover the most fundamental concepts related to patient care and treatment. Those enrolled are also likely to learn about various counseling theories, case management, multicultural counseling, psychology, and family and group counseling.
This type of online degree is sufficient to meet the education requirements to become Certified Addictions Practitioner Assistants (CAPAs) in Wyoming. Those seeking a general introduction to addiction counseling will also find these programs helpful. In addition to certification, graduates typically qualify for many entry-level employment opportunities as human services assistants, halfway house administrative assistants, and adolescent counselors.
Alternatively, graduates can choose to pursue further education. Associate degrees provide a strong foundation for earning bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, credit hours earned may be transferrable to other colleges and universities. Most institutions accept up to 60 or 90 semester credits. This is approximately half of a bachelor’s program, meaning that those with associate degrees may need only two more years of instruction before graduating again.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Addiction Counseling (BS)
Bachelor’s degrees in addiction counseling generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. As an undergraduate program, a set number of general liberal arts classes are required in addition to the study of major-specific topics. Every curriculum is different, but most include instruction that is related to group and individual counseling, as well as social research methods. Those enrolled are also likely to learn about the diagnosis of chemical or behavioral dependency, psychological evaluations and assessments, and pharmacology and psychopharmacology.
It's important to realize that not all colleges and universities offer addiction counseling as a major. Instead, students may have to choose related majors such as psychology, sociology, clinical social work, or mental health counseling, and select substance abuse as a minor or concentration.
This type of degree is generally sufficient to meet education requirements to become Certified Addictions Practitioners (CAPs) in Wyoming. It’s also often considered the professional standard for many community and social service professions. Graduates who do not intend to become addiction counselors will also have the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue a wide variety of employment opportunities with higher salary potential than those with less education.
Graduates also qualify to pursue graduate degrees. Undergraduate credit does not apply towards these programs, but most colleges and universities require candidates to possess bachelor’s degrees prior to admittance. Those interested in furthering their education should also be prepared to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Examination Record (GRE) score requirements of their chosen school.
Online Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling (MS or MC)
Master’s degrees in addiction counseling generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. Graduate programs generally do not require general liberal arts classes, although some do require prospective students complete designated undergraduate prerequisite courses prior to admittance.
Students can expect to continue studying various subjects related to counseling and substance abuse. Curriculums differ, but instruction typically includes various counseling approaches and research methods. Those enrolled are also likely to learn about testing and assessment, human growth and development, addiction prevention and intervention, social and cultural foundations of counseling, psychopathology, and personality disorders. In some cases, professors may teach the knowledge and skills needed to establish private practices. Prior to graduation, field work and/or capstone project presentations might be required.
This type of online master's degree is generally sufficient to meet education requirements to become Licensed Addictions Therapists (LATs) in Wyoming. Graduates will also qualify for many other community and social service occupations. In most cases, those who have completed graduate school have more employment opportunities and higher wage potential than those with less education.
Online PhD Degree in Addiction Counseling (PhD)
Doctorate degrees in addiction counseling generally consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours that take full-time students five to seven years to complete. Curriculums at this level tend to explore topics in-depth, providing comprehensive assessments of the most pertinent topics in the field. Class requirements will vary, but students can typically expect to learn about the social and cultural causes behind addiction, the epidemiology of drug and substance abuse, history of addiction and human behavior, prevention of chemical abuse in childhood, and group psychotherapy techniques and treatment methods. Those enrolled also often have opportunities to conduct independent study and research. In most cases, a dissertation presentation and defense is required prior to graduation.
This type of degree exceeds the education requirements needed to obtain certification and licensure as an addiction professional in Wyoming. Graduates are more likely, however, to pursue other more prestigious professions in the field. Doctorate degrees in addiction typically lead to occupations in research, higher education, and management, which are some of the best-paying employment opportunities available.
Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Wyoming
The first step to becoming an addiction counselor in Wyoming is determining your ultimate career goals. This will help you identify the most appropriate academic program or programs. You will also have a clearer understanding of the type of training and experience needed to be successful in your preferred profession.
Once you have obtained the necessary degrees, you will be prepared to apply for licensing or certification. Securing official credentials is required for all addiction counselors in the state. The licensure process for these professionals is managed by the Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board. The board is responsible for safeguarding the health, safety, and welfare of residents by ensuring all individuals providing mental health services professionals are appropriately qualified.
Find Your Addiction Counseling Program
The Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board offers three credentials relevant to addiction counseling professionals:
- Licensed Addictions Therapist
- Certified Addictions Practitioner
- Certified Addictions Practitioner Assistant
Each credential is unique, with varying application professional parameters and requirements. All applicants will, however, need to provide two fingerprint cards when submitting materials.
Licensed Addictions Therapists (LATs) provide various services to patients experiencing psychosocial dysfunction as a result of addiction, chemical dependency, abuse of chemical substances, or related disorders. They are capable of performing mental health procedures, addiction prevention, crisis intervention, assessment, diagnosis, referral, direct treatment, and follow-up treatment. These professional may work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, schools, and/or communities.
In order to qualify to become a Licensed Addictions Therapist, candidates must be of majority age, have no felony or misdemeanor convictions, and be legal inhabitants of the United States. Applicants will also need a graduate degree with a concentration in addictionology, chemical dependency, substance abuse, health arts, or a related field from an academic institution accredited by a regional or national accrediting body recognized the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Additionally, they must have a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised clinical training and/or work experience in addiction therapy under the direct supervision of a designated qualified clinical supervisor (DQCS).The hours must be completed over a period of no less than 18 months and no more than 36 months.
Finally, candidates must provide a passing score for one of the following examinations within five years of applying:
- Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam administered by the Association for Addictions Professionals (NAADAC)
- Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam administered by the National Board for Certified Professionals (NBCC)
- Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) exam administered by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC)
Certified Addictions Practitioners (CAPs) are capable of performing addictions treatment, prevention, intervention, diagnosis, referral, and follow-ups. These professional must, however, work under the supervision of a designated qualified clinical supervisor and the administrative supervision of an employer.
In order to qualify to become a Certified Addictions Practitioner, candidates must be of majority age, have no felony or misdemeanor convictions, and be legal inhabitants of the United States. Applicants will also need a current National Certified Addictions Counselor Level II (NCAC II) certification in good standing or a baccalaureate degree in addiction therapy from an academic institution accredited by a regional or national accrediting body recognized the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Alternatively, baccalaureate degrees in a human behavioral discipline that is also accredited by the National Addictions Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC) or include specific courses are accepted.
Additionally, candidates must provide a passing score for one of the following examinations within five years of applying:
- National Certified Addictions Counselor Level II (NCAC II) administered by the Association for Addictions Professionals (NAADAC)
- Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor (AODA) exam administered by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC)
Certified Addictions Practitioner Assistants (CAPAs) are capable of assisting in the practice of addictions treatment, prevention, intervention, referral, and follow-ups. These individuals can only work under the supervision of a designated qualified clinical supervisor (DQCS) licensed in the state of Wyoming and an administrative supervising employer. It’s important to realize that the services Certified Addictions Practitioner Assistants can perform are limited. They cannot, for example, assign diagnosis, make treatment recommendations, or act as a primary treatment provider. Therapeutic interventions are also limited to education and skill development activities.
In order to qualify to become a Certified Addictions Practitioner Assistant, candidates must be of majority age, have no felony or misdemeanor convictions, and be legal inhabitants of the United States. Applicants will also need a current National Certified Addictions Counselor Level I (NCAC I) certification in good standing or an associate degree in addictionology, chemical dependency, or substance use disorder counseling from an academic institution accredited by a regional or national accrediting body recognized the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Alternatively, 270 hours of addictions-specific course work and/or training in general mental health subjects and addictions therapy may be accepted.
And candidates must provide a passing score for the following examination.
- National Certified Addictions Counselor Level I (NCAC I) administered by the Association for Addictions Professionals (NAADAC)
Notably, application processing time for all credentials is approximately two to three weeks after the Board receives the required materials. Additionally, forms sent via email or fax cannot be accepted.
Careers for Addiction Counseling Graduates
- Behavioral Therapist
Behavioral therapists are using a variety of behavioral techniques to treat patients who have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. Much of their work revolves around helping to modify and/or replace negative behaviors with positive ones. They are also responsible for treating and monitoring progress, as well as adjusting treatment plans when necessary. These professionals commonly work in clinical environments, patient homes, or community centers. According to PayScale, behavioral therapists make an average base hourly rate of $17.44, which translates to approximately $41,650 per year.
- Career Counselor
Career counselors help clients use a various personality, interest, and aptitude assessments to help clients identify and pursue their ideal careers. They often conduct relevant research and explain education requirements, as well as providing personalized advice and guidance. These professionals also offer many career-related services, such as resume evaluations and mock interviews. According to PayScale, career counselors make an average base salary of $46,450 per year.
- Child Counselor
Child counselors provide various services to children who have been diagnosed with mental health illnesses such as depression, grief, and/or anxiety. By creating open, accepting, and friendly environments where it is safe, they help their patients explore various emotional issues and learn to cope with specific life circumstances. In some cases, these professionals may coordinate with other service providers and/or provide referrals for further treatment. According to PayScale, child counselors make an average base salary of $35,750 per year.
- Clinical Social Worker
Clinical social workers coordinate patient care interactions in hospitals, mental health clinics, residential nursing facilities, substance abuse treatment centers, and patient homes. They are generally responsible for providing psychosocial evaluations and therapy to individuals who need mental and/or emotional support. These professionals may also secure additional resources with third party groups when needed. According to PayScale, clinical social workers make an average base salary of $57,600 per year.
- Grief Counselor
Grief counselors help their clients successfully move through the various stages of grief following the deaths of loved ones or other losses. They often provide direct or indirect counseling treatments as they encourage healthy and productive ways of coping with loss. According to PayScale, grief counselors make an average base salary of $46,850 per year.
- Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors diagnose and treat patients with mental health problems and illnesses. They often use both one-on-one and group therapy to help people manage and resolve issues. While these professionals are often familiar with many different conditions, some choose to specialize in specific treatment types, such as addiction. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $44,250 per year.
- School Counselor
School counselors work with high school students, providing various services, support, and guidance. They are approachable sources of information that help students achieve their personal, academic, social, and development goals. These professionals also provide assistance during challenging situations and may meet with teachers and/or parents to discuss concerns, as well as make referrals to additional support services. According to PayScale, school counselors make an average base salary of $51,350 per year.
- Sports Psychologist
Sports psychologists work with athletes, coaches, and referees, helping these professionals to deal with the various mental and physical demands associated with their sports. In most cases, they assist athletes when dealing with the consequences of sustaining injuries. These professionals may also provide support and guidance related to athletic training and competition. According to PayScale, sports psychologists make an average base salary of $72,250 per year.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Wyoming. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board. State of Wyoming
- Chapter 3 Certified Addictions Practitioner. State of Wyoming
- Chapter 4 Certified Addictions Practitioner Assistant. State of Wyoming