Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

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ABOUT SUBSTANCE ABUSE OR BEHAVIORAL DISORDER COUNSELOR CAREERS
Video transcript

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors can turn people's lives around. They help people break free of addiction to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or gambling. Or they may work with clients to develop strategies for coping with other behavioral problems, such as over-eating.

Often this profession requires providing evening and weekend hours, to counsel clients who work during the day. Sessions may be one-to-one counseling or in small groups. They can take place in a wide array of locations, from schools to healthcare facilities, even correctional institutions.

Some counselors may also serve as administrators. They might develop education programs, and evaluate the progress of treatment plans. It's a job that calls for patience and empathy. It also requires college level work in a range of courses including psychology, social work, and youth and family services.

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors might describe their work as sometimes draining and exhausting, but they know they're helping people lead better lives, and that can be exhilarating.

SNAPSHOT
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.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
HIGH
Competition for this position
LOW
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Train or supervise student interns or new staff members.

Counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting clients or patients.

Confer with family members or others close to clients to keep them informed of treatment planning and progress.

Assess individuals' degree of drug dependency by collecting and analyzing urine samples.

Plan or implement follow-up or aftercare programs for clients to be discharged from treatment programs.

Coordinate activities with courts, probation officers, community services, or other post-treatment agencies.

Conduct chemical dependency program orientation sessions.

Provide clients or family members with information about addiction issues and about available services or programs, making appropriate referrals when necessary.

Act as liaisons between clients and medical staff.

Instruct others in program methods, procedures, or functions.

Attend training sessions to increase knowledge and skills.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
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.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Sociology and Anthropology Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
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.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
TOP SKILLS
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.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
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.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
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.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.