Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselors are mental health providers who work with individuals or groups to overcome obstacles such as addiction, eating disorders, or other behavioral health problems. As more health insurance plans in the state begin to cover mental health care, more substance abuse counseling programs in Pennsylvania are becoming available to prospective counselors.
Pennsylvania Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselor Schools
There are more than 100 substance abuse counselor schools in Pennsylvania, making it easy for individuals to find the perfect program, from professional certifications to higher degrees. These include:
- Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon University offers certificate and degree programs from bachelor's to doctoral degrees. This research university offers professional training and degrees including Clinical and Counseling Psychology.
- Drexel University: Spanning three campuses, Drexel University offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs from Behavioral Health Counseling to Psychology and more.
- Pennsylvania State University: Commonly referred to as "Penn State," this state-related research university offers certification and degree programs through the doctoral level from its College of Health and Human Development.
- Temple University: Located in Philadelphia, Temple University is a research institution offering degrees in Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and Behavioral Health Sciences.
- University of Pennsylvania: The University of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest universities in the nation, and offers certificate, Bachelor's, Master's, and doctoral programs in Psychology, Mental Health Counseling, Mental Health Services, and more.
Coursework for Pennsylvania Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselor Programs
In Pennsylvania, it is possible to begin a substance abuse counseling career as early as after the completion of high school or a GED. Throughout certifications and licensure requirements, counselors can be expected to complete:
- Crisis intervention training
- Mental health, substance abuse, and physiology coursework
- Family counseling training
- Group facilitation training
- Credentialing and IC&RC exam
- Care monitoring
- Referral outcome training
- Confidentiality and patient safety training
Many of these skills are tested through the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium written and oral exams, which are required for completion of several certifications and licenses detailed below.
Pennsylvania Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselor Licenses
For the state of Pennsylvania, there is no comprehensive mandate for licensure for substance abuse counseling. Typically, organizations require a minimum of an Associate's degree with relevant clinical experience. The Pennsylvania Certification Board does offer a number of certification programs, including for a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), and a Certified Associate Addiction Counselor (CAAC). An individual can earn a CAAC without a degree, and candidates may first complete the Associate Addiction Counselor (AAC) program, which is a primer course for the full, certified program.
Meanwhile, a CADC candidate must hold a Bachelor's degree. Candidates typically benefit from a degree in Psychology, Social Work, or Sociology, among others. Another tier of certification, the Certified Advanced Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CADAC), requires a Master's degree.
Resources for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselor in Pennsylvania
- Allied Health World explains the credentials required for each tier of substance abuse counselor in Pennsylvania.
- The IC&RC prepares candidates for certification for programs such as the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor certifications with examination guides for the written and oral exams.
- The Pennsylvania Certification Board offers applications for various counselor certification programs.