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Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements in West Virginia

West Virginia addiction counselors may seek certification from the West Virginia Certification Board for Addiction & Prevention Professionals, a nongovernmental agency that is a member board of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). Professionals with master's degrees can be certified as Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors. Professionals with education below the master’s level can be certified as Alcohol and Drug Counselors. Certification at either level requires addiction-specific education, examination, and supervised practice.

Candidates should be aware that there is proposed legislature in West Virginia to license advanced addiction counselors. Licensure would be granted largely on the basis of meeting the certification requirements of the West Virginia Certification Board for Addiction & Prevention Professionals.

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.

Select a West Virginia Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification topic below...

Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification Requirements

An ADC candidate must have 270 hours of relevant education, with at least 70 hours specific to addictions (http://www.wvcbapp.org/Content.aspx?Topic=Certification). Generally, at least 50% of coursework must be face-to-face. There are some exceptions, for example, online college or university coursework. A three-semester hour college course is considered the equivalent of 45 hours.

The ADC candidate will also need 300 hours of supervised practical training, with at least 10 hours in each core function. The certification board notes that the practical experience requirement does not equate to hours of supervision. Practical training must be supervised by an Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (AADC) or a certified supervisor (ADC-S).

The candidate will need to document both general experience and addiction-specific experience. General experience is work that demonstrates the ability to interact with others in a therapeutic capacity. The general experience requirement may be three to six years, depending on whether the candidate has an academic degree.

A candidate must have at least 36 months of work experience in addictions. If the job does not consist entirely of addiction-specific work, the candidate will only be able to credit a portion of it. Other duties, including administrative duties and non-addiction related counseling, may be credited as general work experience. The certification board considers 35 hours a week the equivalent of full-time.

Trainees may write up competency goals and begin the documentation process before beginning work. Experience can also be documented retrospectively, provided that the individual has held a qualifying job where tasks were performed in all required domains and where work was supervised by a professional who meets certification board standards. It will be necessary to have the supervisor sign a document verifying goals and activities. The application packet includes documentation guidelines for professionals at various stages, including those who have begun their qualifying experience but have not yet completed it.

ADC candidates take the IC&RC International ADC Examination. In West Virginia, it is administered via computer.

Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) Requirements

To be eligible for the advanced credential, a counselor must earn a degree at the master's level or higher. The degree must be in the behavioral sciences; a qualifying program is one that includes clinical application.

AADC candidates need at least 180 hours of addiction-specific coursework. Six hours must be in ethics for addiction professionals.

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.

AADCs must have three years of addiction-specific experience, at least one at the post-master level. They need 300 hours of supervised practical experience performing the core functions, with a minimum of ten hours in each function.

AADC candidates will take the IC&RC International AADC Examination.

The Certification Application Process

Candidates apply when all requirements have been met except examination. Applications can be downloaded from the site of the West Virginia Certification Board (http://www.wvcbapp.org/Content.aspx?Topic=Resources). The application packet includes a statement that must be notarized. Addiction counselors must subscribe to the NAADAC code of ethics.

College coursework must be documented through official transcripts. Other education can be documented through certificates of attendance; these should include hours, date, and sponsor information. ADC candidates pay $75. The application fee is also $75 for candidates making their first application at the AADC level; it is $25 for ADCs wanting to upgrade to AADC status.

Candidates who do not meet requirements and cannot be approved to take the examination will be notified of deficiencies; in some instances, an application packet may be returned.

After the application is approved, the candidate will be pre-registered for the examination. Scheduling will be done later. Candidates must take and pass required examinations within two years of application. Otherwise, they will need to begin the application process anew.

Reciprocity

Addiction counselors who are certified by other IC&RC member boards can have their status transferred to West Virginia; the certification board does not impose additional requirements (http://www.wvcbapp.org/Content.aspx?Topic=Reciprocity). The fee is $100. Counselors initiate the process through their current member board.

Other Addictions Certifications Offered by the West Virginia Certification Board

The West Virginia Certification Board also offers Certified Criminal Justice Professional (CCJP), Prevention Specialist (PS), and Clinical Supervisor (CS) certifications.

The Certified Criminal Justice Professional credential is available to individuals with high school diplomas or college degrees; higher education can reduce the required experience hours. The Certified Criminal Justice Professional credential is available at two levels: one for individuals with 60 semester hours of coursework, the other for those with bachelor's degrees. The supervisor credential is available to ADCs, AADCs, and CCJPs who have the requisite experience and supervision-specific training hours.

All three specialty credentials are awarded on the basis of examination. The candidate will take the IC&RC examination designed for the particular job role.

Additional Information

The West Virginia Certification Board for Addiction and Prevention Professionals (http://www.wvcbapp.org/Content.aspx?Topic=Main) can be contacted by email form or by telephone at (304) 768-2942.

Text of the proposed licensure legislation can be found on the site of the West Virginia Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (http://www.wvaadc.com/pages/laadcregs.html).