Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements in Delaware

Delaware substance abuse counselors may be eligible for one or more credentials based on their educational level. They can be voluntarily certified by the Delaware Certification Board (DCB) with or without college degrees. However, the process is shorter for those who do hold degrees.

Substance abuse counselors with master’s degrees can be licensed as Chemical Dependency Professionals through the Division of Professional Regulation/ Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals; unlike DCB, this is a governmental agency. In order to be licensed, professionals must first hold third party credentials through DCB or other accepted agencies.

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Certification by the Delaware Certification Board

In order to be credentialed by the Delaware Certification Board (DCB) as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADS), a professional must be currently employed in the field (http://www.delawarecertificationboard.org/certifications.asp). The substance abuse counselor will need 270 hours of education that relates to the following domains:

  • Clinical evaluation
  • Service coordination
  • Referral
  • Treatment planning
  • Counseling
  • Documentation
  • Education (client, family, community)
  • Professional responsibilities and ethics

There must be at least six hours of study in ethics and professional responsibilities.

Education must be formal but can include in-service and workshops as well as traditional college credit. Three relevant college credits can be credited as 45 hours.

Experience is required. The amount of experience depends on degree level. A substance abuse counselor with a master’s degree needs just 2,000 hours (one year). A counselor with a bachelor’s needs 4,000. The requirement is 5,000 hours for an individual with an associate degree and 6,000 for one with no degree. Employment can be credited if it took place within the prior seven years. Supervision of drug and alcohol counselors is creditable.

The counselor will need 300 hours of supervision prior to certification. Each domain must be addressed with a minimum of ten supervision hours.

The candidate must take the IC&RC Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors.

Delaware Certification Board Application Process

Application and instruction packets are available on the DCB site (http://www.delawarecertificationboard.org/certifications.asp). The application includes a release that must be notarized and a verification form to be completed by the supervisor. Employment can be verified through a letter on letterhead. The candidate should provide a current job description, co-signed by a supervisor, and certificates from relevant trainings. DCB recommends that three weeks prior to application, candidates request to have official transcripts sent from the issuing academic institution. There is a $350 fee for certification.

The candidate will submit the application before examination. Once approved, the candidate can schedule the examination on-demand at a computerized testing center. A candidate who fails an examination attempt will need to pay an additional $150 for re-examination.

Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals Licensing

There are two methods to demonstrate qualifications for licensure: certification and reciprocity (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/profcounselors/chem_newlicense.shtml).

Candidates applying by certification must provide evidence of master’s degrees and 30 semester hours of study in counseling or closely related subjects. A candidate will need 3,200 hours of experience as a substance abuse counselor with at least 1,600 of the hours supervised by an approved clinical supervisor (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/profcounselors/cdpexperience.shtml). The supervisor may be licensed as a chemical dependency professional, psychologist, clinical social worker, or professional mental health counselor. Supervision by a physician who specializes in chemical dependency is also acceptable. The supervisee will need at least 100 hours of face-to-face meetings; up to 40 of the required supervision hours may take place in a small group setting.

The counselor will present certification by the Delaware Certification Board or another comparable agency. Delaware will accept certification as a National Certified Addictions Counselor (NCAC) or Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) granted by the Association for Addition Professionals (NAADAC). A substance abuse counselor who is certified by another agency may furnish documents that will allow the Board to determine equivalence/ suitability.

A substance abuse counselor who holds a current license in a U.S. jurisdiction and has held the license in good standing for at least five years is deemed to have adequate training and education. It is not necessary to provide evidence of having met training requirements at the level Delaware normally requires. The applicant will have a background check and submit general application materials listed as required of all applicants.

A substance abuse counselor who is currently licensed but has not held a license for five years in any current jurisdiction will need to provide copies of the statutes, rules, and regulations under which he or she was licensed. If Delaware determines licensing standards were not comparable, the candidate will have the option of furnishing additional documentation and applying by certification.

Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals Application Process

Application packets are available on the Board site (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/profcounselors/chem_forms.shtml). The packet includes verification forms that can be sent to the Delaware Certification Board, NAADAC, and/or state licensing agencies; there is a separate form for each. A substance abuse counselor who holds both DCB and NAADAC certification will need verification of each. The Board also requires verification from each jurisdiction where the counselor has held licensing as a mental health practitioner.

There are two separate experience verification forms: one for experience that was under the clinical supervision of an approved supervisor, one for experience that was not.

A fee of $194 should be enclosed (http://www.dpr.delaware.gov/boards/profcounselors/fees.shtml). Official graduate transcripts should be sent straight to the Board from the issuing institution.

The Board requires fingerprint-based criminal background checks. An applicant who is residing in Delaware should have the background check made at one of the three locations listed in the application packet. The Kent County location accepts walk-ins; appointments are required at Sussex County or New Castle County. Both the authorization form and the fee are to be brought to the fingerprinting location. The fee is currently listed as $69.

Out-of-state candidates may have the fingerprints made at a local police agency. The agency may provide a fingerprint card. Otherwise, the applicant may call (302) 739-2134 to request that one be sent. The out-of-state applicant will mail the completed fingerprint card, authorization, and fee to the Delaware State Police.

Additional Information

Certification and testing information is found on the Delaware Certification Board site (www.delawarecertificationboard.org). DCB can be reached by telephone at (717) 540‐4456.

Licensure information is available on the site of the Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/profcounselors/chem_newlicense.shtml).