Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in Alaska
The Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health certifies Alaska’s chemical dependency professionals. Certification is based on coursework, experience, and examination. A college degree is not required, but candidates with degrees in related fields can move through the ranks more quickly. Degreed candidates also need to complete fewer contact hours of specific board mandated coursework.
Select an Alaska Substance Abuse Counselor/Chemical Dependency Professional topic below…
- Education Pathways for Chemical Dependency Professionals
- Non-Degree Track Certification Pathways
- Reciprocal Certification
- Background Checks
- Application Process: Forms and Necessary Materials
- Contacts and Additional Information Sources
The board has put together a matrix of certification requirement information for individuals with college degrees (https://akcertification.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/Matrix-CDC-with-Degree.pdf). The following degrees are considered potentially certification qualifying: counseling, addiction, psychology, sociology, social work, psychiatric nursing, and human services. Degrees at any level may be considered, as can certificates from accredited institutions (http://akcertification.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/ACBHC-acceptance-of-accreditation-policy.pdf). Decisions are made on an individual basis. Counselors must meet additional training and examination requirements at each level.
At the technician level, a candidate will need an eight contact hour introduction to addictive behavior as well as six contact hours in HIV and infectious diseases and three contact hours each in NAADAC ethics and NAADAC confidentiality.
Chemical Dependency Counselor I
A degreed technician will not need any additional coursework to move up to counselor level, provided NAADAC ethics and confidentially coursework was taken within the prior two years.
The prospective addiction counselor will, however, need 100 hours of supervised practicum. Practicum must include 35 hours of practice in evaluating clients using the DSM/ASAM. It must include 35 hours of practice evaluating community readiness and developing prevention plans. 30 hours must be spent in case management and development of treatment plans. All practicum work must be supervised.
Additionally, the candidate will need at least one year of work experience. (The board will determine on a case by case basis whether the degree can substitute for one of the two years of experience that is required of a non-degreed applicant.)
Chemical Dependency Counselor II
This level of certification requires three years of experience (6,000 hours). The degreed counselor will need two additional courses: special issues and documentation and quality assurance. The former is 16 contact hours, the latter, 12 contact hours. Ethics and confidentiality coursework must be repeated if it was not taken within the previous two years.
An additional 100 hours of practicum is required. 60 hours are to be spent in treatment planning, evaluation, and case management. 20 each are to be spent in quality assurance case review and clinical team leadership.
At this stage, the counselor will take a certification exam: the NAADAC level I or II or the MAC.
Five years (10,000 hours) of experience is required. The counselor will also need 30 hours of supervision coursework and 100 hours of practicum/ supervised practice in supervision. Practicum is to include 60 hours of clinical team leadership, 20 hours of role modeling, and 20 hours of consultation. A counselor who has not already taken the NAADAC II or MAC will need to do so.
Counselor Technician: At the technician level, the candidate must demonstrate three contact hours in each of the following:
- NAADAC ethics
- NAADAC confidentiality
The candidate must have eight contact hours in each of the following:
- Introduction to addictive behavior
- Introduction to group counseling
- Crisis intervention
- Community resources and case management
- Recovery, health, balance, and wellness
Twelve contact hours will be required in each of the following:
- Introduction to client centered counseling
- Working with diverse populations
There must be six semester hours of coursework covering HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
NAADAC ethics and confidentiality classes must have been taken in the prior two years.
Chemical Dependency Counselor I: To move up to counselor level, the non-degreed technician will need twelve contact hours in each of the following:
- DSM practice
- ASAM practice
- Co-occurring disorders
Additionally, there is a sixteen contact hour requirement in motivational interviewing.
There is a recency requirement for NAADAC ethics and confidentiality coursework — it must have been completed within the prior two years.
The practicum requirement is the same as it is for degreed counselors: 100 hours. However, a non-degreed individual will need to practice at the technician level for at least two years before moving up to a higher level of credentialing.
Chemical Dependency Counselor II: A non-degreed counselor must have four years of experience in order to progress to this level. The counselor must have, in addition to all coursework required for lower levels of certification, sixteen hours of coursework in special issues in behavioral health services and twelve hours in quality assurance and documentation.
Again, there is a recency requirement for ethics and confidentiality coursework.
The counselor will complete a second 100 hours of practicum; quality assurance case review and clinical team leadership will be among the required topics.
Clinical Supervisor: The substance abuse counselor will need 30 hours of coursework in supervision practices and principles in order to move up to clinical supervisor level. Additionally, the chemical dependency counselor will need 100 hours of practicum – and six full years of experience.
The Application Process
The candidate will need to get a background check from Alaska State Troopers. The candidate will pay a $20 fee and present a picture ID. A reciprocity candidate who has not yet arrived in Alaska may present a background check from the current state of residence (https://akcertification.org/forms/).
Candidates at any level must submit recommendations; there are blank forms in the application packet. Candidates above the technician level must include at least one recommendation from a supervisor. The practicum supervisor must also rate the candidate on a competency form; this is separate. Employment verification may come from human resources personnel or from a supervisor. All documents filled out by third parties are to be sent straight to the certifying agency from the source.
The candidate will need a resume and photocopy of an ID.
Applications and supplemental forms can be found on the site of the Alaska Certification Board (https://akcertification.org/).
Initial fees are as follows:
- Counselor Technician: $180
- Chemical Dependency Counselor I: $195
- Chemical Dependency Counselor II: $210
- Clinical Supervisor: $230
A reciprocity candidate must provide evidence of certification by an acceptable certifying agency. A copy of the certification requirements will also be required. The counselor will need to present evidence of recent continuing education, including coursework in ethics, confidentiality, and infectious diseases (https://akcertification.org/forms/).
The Alaska Certification Board (http://www.akcertification.org/) can be reached by telephone at (907)332-4333 or by email at acbhc at akcertification.org.