If I Want To Be a Substance Abuse Counselor, What Master’s Program Should I Take?

Substance abuse counselors are called on to deal with some tough situations. These require the employee to be well educated and experienced before landing the job. There are a couple of educational routes to becoming a substance abuse counselors, and a couple of master’s degree programs touch on the related topics. Here are some ways that you can begin this career path.

Master’s in Counseling

A master’s in counseling is the most obvious choice for this career path. A counseling degree prepares you to be a support to those in need. You will be taught how to communicate and help people release their feelings, how to teal with tough emotional situations, and how to respectfully advise someone to change their behavior. Master’s in counseling programs often have specific focuses, so you may be able to study in a program that is specifically geared towards producing good substance abuse counselors. Or, you may choose a more general program that equips you to deal with many different types of counseling. Either option gives you the foundation you need to get started in this career.

Master’s Social Work

A master’s in counseling isn’t the only option for this career. A social work master’s degree may also be helpful for entering this career. While you won’t be as well prepared to deal with the one on one issues that you will have to work with as a substance abuse counselor, you can certainly develop someo of these skills on the job if you are naturally suited to the position. Employers like individuals with a master’s in social work for these positions because some of them involve a lot of operating with the government and public services available to patients. When you are able to develop an all around plan for helping your patient improve his or her living situation, the patient may have an easier time of recovering.

Master’s in Psychology

A substance abuse is psychological illness. There are many mental factors that underlie an addiction, and a trained psychologist can help break down some of the mental and emotional issues that lead to addiction. If you choose this route, be sure to choose course work that relates to your future role as a substance abuse counselor. Here is some more information on becoming a drug rehab counselor.

Which one to Choose?

Each of the three master’s degree programs above are suitable starts for someone who is interested in working as a substance abuse counselor. But how do you decide which one to choose? There are a few considerations that can help you pick a master’s degree program. The first is your own interests. The three degrees above prepare you to deal with slightly different sides of the problem of addiction. Are you more interested in helping a person talk through their blocks to recovery, finding ways for them to reintegrate into society, or helping them analyze why they became addicted?

Another way to look at the choice is based on your alternate career interests. If you could no longer work as a substance abuse counselor, would you be more interested in working in a different field of counseling, working to improve the housing situations of low-income children, or doing research on substance abuse? Asking yourself questions like these can help you choose the correct path to becoming a substance abuse counselor.

For more information, check out ” Substance Abuse Counselor Resource Guide“.