The work of a substance abuse counselor is sometimes difficult, but it’s absolutely vital to society.
Do you have to have been an addict to be a counsellor?
The answer to this is of course No. That said, many previous addicts do find rewarding work in becoming counsellors. There’s a certain type of advantage to it, as having been through the same recovery process as patients now face, you can easily empathize and understand their problems. However, it’s absolutely vital that a counsellor have a strong and stable core personality, good communication skills and the ability to feel empathy with their patients without becoming emotionally bound to them. They also need to be able to deal well with the immense stresses of the job and the often large caseloads they will carry.
Do I have to be well educated to be a counsellor?
In most cases, the answer to this is yes. It does depend, however, on the work you want to undertake and the setting you want to do it in. There are opportunities in the field for those with a high school degree and the willingness to undertake extensive training. However, the less supervision a position calls for, the more learning it will require, and private practice and one-on-one counselling will absolutely require a Master’s degree.
That’s not where it ends, however. For most counsellor positions, become licensed or certified is an absolutely vital part of the job, and for that you will be required to demonstrate a certain number of clinical experience hours. These do vary, but generally approach around 4000 hours.
Will I earn well as a substance abuse counsellor.
It’s a profession that’s in demand, and set to get only more so as substance abuse rates rise throughout America. Truly, many of the people you meet are suffering with personal crises that include addiction. Expected growth targets are around 20%, which is immense. Additionally, it’s been proven that offenders sent to treatment programs rather than prisons have less chance of repeat infractions. However, there is a reason that the opportunities available are good- it’s a career that demands fairly low wages and very long hours. Night and weekend work cannot be ruled out, and burnout is a hazard of the profession. Obviously, expected earnings will vary by the education levels they’re backed with, but salaries range from $28000 annually to over $60000.
It’s a stringent and sometimes punishing career path to take, but there can be few professions as rewarding as counselling- watching people pick up the pieces of a broken life and fit them back together again is second only to helping them do so. Provided you have the personality to weather the demands of the field, substance abuse counselling can prove to be one of the most rewarding and satisfying careers out there. DO remember that you will need to put in substantial clinical time and be prepared to study hard.