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Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is home to two well-known addiction professional certifying agencies: The Certification Board for Professionals in Addiction & Alcoholism of Puerto Rico (or Junta de Certificación para Profesionales a Adicción y Alcoholismo de Puerto Rico) is a member board of the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). As such, it enjoys reciprocity with many U.S. states and a number of licensing agencies in other nations.

The Comisión Certificadora de Profesionales de Ayuda en Sustancias Sicoactivas de Puerto Rico (or Certification Commission) uses Association of Addiction Professionals (NADAAC) examinations. Candidates subscribe to the NAADAC code of ethics. They have the option of also seeking national certification through NAADAC.

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.

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Comisión Certificadora de Profesionales de Ayuda en Sustancias Sicoactivas Requirements

The Comisión Certificadora de Profesionales de Ayuda en Sustancias Sicoactivas de Puerto Rico (CCPASS) issues 'Profesional de Ayuda en Sustancias Sicoactivas' (PASS) credentials at three levels (http://www.comisioncertificadora.org/2013/Solicitud_de_Certificacion_Completa_2013.pdf).

Education and Training: The PASS I requires at least 6,000 hours of experience. The counselor must also have 36 hours of alcohol and drug education. HIV/ AIDS must be included. A PASS II must have a bachelor's degree in a field related to health or human behavior. This credential also requires 36 hours of pertinent education with five hours each in HIV/AIDS and ethics. A PASS II must either complete three years of full-time experience (not necessarily consecutive) or accrue 10,000 hours of experience. To be credited, experience must have been accrued during the prior ten years.

A PASS III holds a master's or doctoral degree. Again, 36 hours of continuing education is required. The candidate must have at least one year/ 2,000 hours of post-graduate supervised practice accrued within the five years prior to application.

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.

Examination: Candidates at all levels must go through an examination process. NAADAC examinations are administered monthly in Puerto Rico and the United States. The certification board notes that the exam is administered in English and Spanish.

The CCPASS Application Process

The CCPASS application process is explained in detail in a candidate bulletin which is available for download on the certification board website (http://www.comisioncertificadora.org/2013/Solicitud_de_Certificacion_Completa_2013.pdf). Instructions are in Spanish. Candidates should make sure they have the most current version.

A supervisor or other appropriate person must verify competencies. Candidates must sign the NAADAC code of ethics. The certification board seeks originals of continuing education documents, but will return them if the candidate makes copies and includes a stamped self-addressed envelope.

Candidates will visit the website of the testing company (http://www.ptcny.com/clients/ncc) to register and pay for examination. They will need the code for Puerto Rico, which is found in in the certification handbook. Examination fees are listed as $160 for Levels I and II, $180 for Level III. The application fee is $35. A candidate who needs to retake the examination will pay testing fees again, but will not have to submit a second application fee.

Certification fees will be due later. Certification is renewed on a three year basis.

Certification Board for Professionals in Addiction and Alcoholism Requirements

The JCPAA (CBPAA) offers the ‘Consejero en Adicción y Alcoholismo’ (Alcohol and Drug Counselor) at levels I, II, and III. It also offers a ‘Consejero en Alcohol y Drogas Avanzado’ (Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor) certification for practitioners with graduate degrees. ‘Consejero en Adicción y Alcoholismo I’ is a non-reciprocal credential for professionals at the early stages of their careers.

Education and Training: Reciprocal credentials are based on education and training in addictions, as well as on supervised practice and examination. Candidates at Level II and III are required to pass the IC&RC international examination. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publication lists 270 hours of continuing education as the requirement for JCPAA's level II credential and 350 hours of continuing education as the requirement for the level III credential; the agency notes that training in ethics and HIV is required at both levels. Candidates should check with JCPAA directly to make sure they have the most current information. According to the HHS publication, counselors with high school or associate's level education must have 6,000 hours of supervised practice to achieve Level II and 8,000 hours to achieve Level III (http://www.hhs.gov/partnerships/resources/fbci_counselor_standards.pdf). Experience requirements are reduced for addiction counselors with higher degrees.

The advanced designation (Consejero en Alcohol y Drogas Avanzado) can be earned only by individuals who have master's degrees in the behavioral sciences (http://www.jcpaapr.org/espanol/niveles.htm). They must pass both oral and written examinations. As with other levels of certification, there is a supervised practice requirement.

The JCPAA Application Process

Candidates must request application handbooks from the certification board. A fee is to be included with the request; this is $35 for Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor candidates, $25 for Alcohol and Drug Counselor candidates. Those desiring application materials may call 787-918-3039, use the email request form, or send their check by mail to the JCPAA office in San Juan.

Applicants will provide three references (http://jcpaapr.org/english/applying.htm).They will provide evidence of formal education, continuing education, and supervision, and will sign a code of ethics.

Additional Information

Individuals can access the Certification Board for Professionals in Addiction & Alcoholism of Puerto Rico website in English or Spanish (http://www.jcpaapr.org/); they can click a button on the sidebar to switch languages. The certification board can be reached at info at jcpaapr.org. Messages can also be sent through the IC&RC (http://internationalcredentialing.org/Sys/PublicProfile/12938106/1738791).

Communication can be sent to the Comisión Certificadora de Profesionales de Ayuda en Sustancias Sicoactivas by email contact form (http://www.comisioncertificadora.org).