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Josh Andrews
Aug 12, 2010

Should a Licensed Professional Counselor get Licensed as a Chemical Dependency Counselor?

Lately, I have been serving more alcohol and other drug (AoD) client’s during assessment and individual counseling. I am not as comfortable with the AoD clientele that I am with MH clientele. My graduate program was focused predominantly on clinical MH issues listed in the DSM-IV-TR and less focused on AoD issues. It was a requirement to take at least one 4 hr class specifically dealing with AoD issues and I learned a great deal.

Since I would like to work more with AoD clientele, I have been increasing the amount of chemical dependency continuing education classes. The more AoD classes I take, the more interested I get which leaves me the question of putting in the required time, extra education and counseling hours to obtain the Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor license.

Now my concerns include: 1) why should I obtain an extra license when my scope of practice as a Professional Counselor can include chemical dependency counseling? 2) Should I just focus on gaining more knowledge and not gain more credentials? 3) Would I increase my marketing ability and employment opportunities outside of mental health agencies if I obtained chemical dependency license?

As I consult with Clinical Directors, CEO’s, and Human Resource personnel, I get a twofold response. One response is that yes, I would be more marketable if I went into a hospital setting or strict AoD agency. Having the chemical dependency license would give me an extra boost on the resume and look like I achieved further education beyond one licensure program. The other responses I get revolve around wasting money when I would be able to counsel AoD clientele with my professional counselor license.

My main reason for seeking the extra license is not to look important but to be as equipped as I can be to serve my community as a whole. I want to say, yes I can counsel you and see I have a license and support from a state board that also agrees with my capabilities. If increasing my marketability as a counselor would be my only gain then I would not pursue the added licensure. Does it hurt to have extra marketing, no, and I know I would use it towards my advantage and advocate more for my clients’ and their families.

In the long run, I think the time and added pressure of additional licensure would not outweigh gaining knowledge and experience with a different set of client issues. The verdict is still out but the jury is coming close to giving an answer.

Josh Andrews is a counselor at a behavioral health agency working with children, adolescents, and families. His professional interests include the spiritual side of humankind, cognitive behavior therapy, reality therapy, and advancing the knowledge and practice of professional counseling.

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