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Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements in Massachusetts

Massachusetts substance abuse counselors are regulated by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. There are multiple levels of credentialing. A Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor I (LADC I) has education at the graduate level while a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (LADC II) may or may not have a college degree. The Department also issues a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor Assistant license. Candidates for licensure at any level must complete a supervised practice requirement and go through an examination process. Candidates need to demonstrate U.S. citizenship but are not required to demonstrate Massachusetts residency.

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Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor I Pre-Examination Requirements

An individual may be licensed as a LADC I on the basis of a master's or doctoral degree from an institution with national or regional accreditation (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/regs/105cmr168.pdf). The degree must be in the behavioral sciences. The graduate must have at least 18 semester hours of counseling or related subjects.

Capella University offers an Online Master of Science in Addiction Studies, a Bachelor's in Psychology, a Post-Bacc Certificate in Addictive Behavior, a PhD in Addiction Psychology as well as three online CACREP- accredited master's programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

Regulation 168.004 includes a definition of ‘behavioral sciences’ (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/regs/105cmr168.pdf). Among the qualifying options are anthropology, art therapy, child development, community mental health, dance therapy, divinity, education, gerontology, health administration, human services, music therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, recreational therapy, sociology, social work, speech pathology, and vocational counseling.

Additionally, the LADC candidate must complete a program of study that includes at least 270 hours that address a "full range" of concepts related to alcohol and drug counseling. At least 110 hours must develop knowledge of drug abuse and alcoholism. At least 75 will pertain to drug and alcohol counseling, assessment, treatment planning, evaluation, and case management. 75 must address client, family, and community education as it pertains to drug abuse and other issues like infectious diseases and ending tobacco usage. Ten hours must address professional and ethical responsibilities.

A minimum of 300 hours of practicum are required. At least ten hours must be spent performing each of the twelve core counselor functions. Practicum is to be supervised at the rate of one hour of supervision per ten hours of practical experience.

The professional must have 6,000 hours, or three years, of supervised professional experience. The trainee must provide direct services and gain experience carrying out counseling, diagnostic assessment and intervention in individual and group settings. There must be weekly clinical supervision provided on-site. In order to be creditable, experience hours must have been accrued within the prior ten years.

Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor II Pre-Examination Requirements

Pre-examination requirements for the LADC II license are similar to those of the LADC I, but a college degree is not required. A candidate with a bachelor's degree may earn the LADC II after 4,000 hours of supervised practice; a candidate without a degree will need 6,000.

The Examination Process

Candidates take a written examination after other requirements have been met; Department authorization is required. An unsuccessful candidate will be allowed one retake during the subsequent twelve month period (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/regs/105cmr168.pdf). Successful candidates may be asked to appear for an oral examination.

The Application Process

A candidate will need three evaluations, one of which must come from a current supervisor (or, if necessary, from the most recent one). All evaluators should be individuals who have known the applicant for at least six months. Education and training must be verified through transcripts, certificates, or completion letters. (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/regs/105cmr168.pdf). The candidate must agree to abide by the ethical code. There is an application fee of $100.

Candidates will apply online using the BSAS eLicensing System (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/substance-abuse/providers/alcohol-and-drug-counselor/). They may get access to the system by calling 617-624-5076 or using the email contact information found on the Health and Human Services website (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/substance-abuse/providers/forms/license-apps-and-forms.html).

An applicant whose application is not complete can expect to receive notification from the Department.

Reciprocity and Examination Waivers

An out-of-state substance abuse counselor who holds a comparable license that is current and in good standing may be licensed in Massachusetts without taking either the written or oral examination (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/substance-abuse/providers/alcohol-and-drug-counselor/licensing-requirements.html).

A candidate who holds certification through an accepted organization may be licensed without written examination. Certification agencies can include, but are not limited to, the American Academy of Healthcare Providers in the Addictive Disorders, the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC), the Massachusetts Board of Substance Abuse Counselor Certification (MBSACC), and the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). MBSACC has reciprocity with the IC&RC.

Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor Assistant Pre-Examination Requirements

A candidate must be at least eighteen and have completed high school or earned a GED (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/regs/105cmr168.pdf). Additionally, the candidate must have 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. The Department requires ten hours of continuing education in each of the following five areas: counseling, assessment, case management, education, and professional responsibility.

Additional Information

Alcohol and drug counselor licensing information can be found on the Executive Office of Health and Human Services website, in the section for providers (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/substance-abuse/providers/alcohol-and-drug-counselor). Licensing contacts may be reached at 617-624-5076 or 617-624-5173.

The Massachusetts Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors is an additional resource (http://www.maadac-ma.org).