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Details for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors


Counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, drug, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. May counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.


  • Counsel clients and patients, individually and in group sessions, to assist in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, and making changes.
  • Complete and maintain accurate records and reports regarding the patients' histories and progress, services provided, and other required information.
  • Develop client treatment plans based on research, clinical experience, and client histories.
  • Review and evaluate clients' progress in relation to measurable goals described in treatment and care plans.
  • Interview clients, review records, and confer with other professionals to evaluate individuals' mental and physical condition, and to determine their suitability for participation in a specific program.
  • Intervene as advocate for clients or patients to resolve emergency problems in crisis situations.
  • Provide clients or family members with information about addiction issues and about available services and programs, making appropriate referrals when necessary.
  • Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in client status.
  • Coordinate counseling efforts with mental health professionals and other health professionals such as doctors, nurses, and social workers.
  • Attend training sessions to increase knowledge and skills.
  • Plan and implement follow-up and aftercare programs for clients to be discharged from treatment programs.
  • Conduct chemical dependency program orientation sessions.
  • Counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting clients or patients.
  • Participate in case conferences and staff meetings.
  • Act as liaisons between clients and medical staff.
  • Coordinate activities with courts, probation officers, community services and other post-treatment agencies.
  • Confer with family members or others close to clients to keep them informed of treatment planning and progress.
  • Instruct others in program methods, procedures, and functions.
  • Follow progress of discharged patients to determine effectiveness of treatments.
  • Develop, implement, and evaluate public education, prevention, and health promotion programs, working in collaboration with organizations, institutions and communities.
  • Supervise and direct other workers providing services to clients or patients.


  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Artistic - Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
  • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
  • Training - Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
  • Experience - Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.


  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Personnel and Human Resources - Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Philosophy and Theology - Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.


  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Related Careers

  • Child, Family, and School Social Workers
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Recreational Therapists
  • Residential Advisors
  • Social and Human Service Assistants
Wages for this career
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