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AA Counselor Training Requirements and Programs

Majors Overview February 19, 2013

Individuals that are interested in receiving counseling training in order to work with Alcoholic Anonymous (A.A.) members could pursue programs at the bachelor and master degree level. Counselors assisting alcoholic anonymous members are knowledgeable with treatment methods and addiction prevention strategies for recovering alcoholics.

Training Recommendations and Requirements

Alcoholic anonymous does not support professional counselors. However, addiction and substance abuse counselors could volunteer their services to alcoholic anonymous groups by offering addiction counseling to A.A. members who are making an effort in remaining sober. Training requirements for those who want to become an addiction counselor may vary depending on the state. There are states that may only require a counseling certificate and high school diploma, but others could require a graduate degree. A majority of states require certification and licensure from individuals in order to provide formal counseling service.

Formal Education

Many aspiring candidates who are interested in receiving a counseling degree, so they can work with A.A. groups usually pursue a graduate or undergraduate degree. At both levels, individuals participate in supervised practice sessions and typically go on to work as a counseling intern for a semester.

Addiction Counseling Bachelor Degree

Four-year bachelor degree programs involve classes in mental health drug treatments, psychology, professional counseling ethics, and group and individual therapy. Individuals could also complete courses in spirituality and self-help promotion as they relate to addiction.

Substance Abuse Counseling Master Degree

Master degree programs involve addiction research, in topic areas such as medical issues arising from substance abuse, common issues affecting drug and alcohol counseling, and prevention and treatment methods.

Job Experience

Drug abuse and alcohol counselors with two to three years of experience in substance abuse counseling are preferred by A.A. groups. Familiarity with A.A.’s twelve-Step Program is also expected of these individuals, apart from working knowledge of Spanish and English.

Certifications and Licenses

A majority of states insist on satisfaction of certification and licensure by individuals aspiring to become addiction counselors by passing an exam. Each state has its own levels of mandatory certification. In some states, certification is awarded to high school diploma holders with minimum counseling education and volunteer training. Other states insist on an undergraduate or graduate degree and demonstrated counseling experience of at least two years. The National Board for Certified Counselors (www.nbcc.org) also facilitates voluntary experience. This certification exam can be taken by individuals with a minimum of two years of clinical experience and a master degree in counseling. In some states, passing this examination exempts individuals from having to take any other state examination for licensure. Certification is required to be maintained through continued education.

Workshops and Seminars

Seminars and conferences in the form of continuing education for professionals in this field are offered by NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals (www.naadac.org). The National Conference on Addiction Disorders workshops usually last for four days. Guest speakers at these workshops teach attendees about current treatment method trends.

Additional Professional Development

Addiction counselors who want further knowledge of alcoholic anonymous could look to the organization’s website (www.aa.org). Counselors can search archived documents and learn the history of alcoholic anonymous. The website offers informational pages, newsletters, and relevant videos for counseling professionals.

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  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities (beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities.
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