Addiction Counselor Requirements in Mississippi

A Mississippi addiction counselor may hold one or more credentials; credentials may be granted by a state agency or a third party organization.

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health/ Division of Professional Licensure and Certification (PLACE) certifies addictions therapists. Professionals who hold graduate degrees and meet other training requirements may work in the state mental health system as Certified Addictions Therapists; this status may be obtained by some individuals who would not qualify for licensure as professional counselors or therapists.

Individuals with or without graduate degrees who provide services to individuals with substance abuse disorders may be certified by the Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals (MAAP); the certification board is a member of the International Consortium (IC & RC).

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PLACE Addictions Therapist Certification Requirements

PLACE certifies individuals as Provisionally Certified Addictions Therapists (PCATs) and Certified Addictions Therapists (CATs). Individuals must have graduate degrees. A doctoral degree is accepted; a master’s degree is accepted if it meets board requirements.

The master’s degree should be in addiction studies or in another field related to mental health or human services (http://www.dmh.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/DMH-Addictions-Therapist-SR-FINAL-VERSION-with-FORMS-January-1-2012-TNR1.pdf). Qualifying fields include the following: behavioral science, counseling and guidance, family and child studies, family and consumer studies, health science, healthcare administration, nursing, psychology, psychometry, rehabilitation services, social sciences, or social work. Pastoral ministries is an acceptable field if the focus was on counseling or addictions. Sociology or interdisciplinary studies is acceptable if there was a focus on addictions.

Individuals with atypical degrees may be certified if they complete additional qualifying education outside the degree. They will need a minimum of five graduate courses in areas acceptable to the board. These may include abnormal psychology, addiction studies, behavior modification, counseling, cultural sensitivity, developmental psychology, group processes, and professional ethics, among others. Acceptance of coursework is at board discretion. The Review Board notes that in no circumstances is the requirement for a degree at the master’s level waived.

The individual must be employed within the state mental health system to be certified. Evidence must be provided that a background check has been carried out. Personnel officers may verify that appropriate checks have been done. The process will typically include checking the Motor Vehicle Registry and Child Abuse Registry as well as screening for criminal history.

The individual will need to complete training to receive full certification. The DMH Addictions Therapist Web-based Training Component includes online courses with built-in examinations. Training may be completed through the Department of Mental Health or another vendor. Candidate who entered programs prior to 2012 may have taken the DMH Chemical Dependency Unit (CDU) Exam.

The individual will also need to document two years of full-time experience. The PCAT certification is issued for only two years at a time and is not renewable. It may be extended in extenuating circumstances at Board discretion. Individuals may request status changes if they are not currently working within the state system. Provisional credentials are not generally issued to the same individual more than two times, but exceptions may be made.

Active status as a CAT is held only while working within the system.

The Addictions Therapist (CAT) Application Process

An individual often applies first as a PCAT and upgrades after meeting additional requirements.

Some individuals may qualify for CAT at first application; an application may be held if requirements have not all been met. A $75 fee is due upon first application. There is no fee for upgrade from PCAT to CAT. Documentation of work experience will be required.

The application is found at the back of the handbook (http://www.dmh.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/DMH-Addictions-Therapist-SR-FINAL-VERSION-with-FORMS-January-1-2012-TNR1.pdf). Candidates should make sure they have the current version. The application must be notarized. Verification of employment must be included. Most application materials are to be included together in a single envelope. The exception is the transcripts; these can either be included in a sealed envelope in the application package or arrive separately.

MAAP Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification Requirements

MAAP offers the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) credential at several levels; it also offers a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) credential (https://msaap.net/certification). The basic CADC does not depend on having a college degree. The CADC I requires a bachelor’s degree while the CADC II and CAADC both require master’s degrees. To qualify as a CADC II, one needs a behavioral sciences degree; to qualify as a CAADC, one needs a behavioral science degree that has a clinical component (http://www.msaap.net/certification-requirements.html). A CAADC takes the IC & RC examination at a higher level. Experience requirements, however, are lower for the CAADC.

All CADC and CAADC certifications are contingent on completing 270 hours of education relevant to the addiction counseling performance domains; there is a specific require for six hours each of ethics and HIV/ AIDS training. Education is to be formal but may include conferences, in-service, and online study as well as traditional coursework.

All MAAP reciprocal certifications are also dependent on having 300 hours of supervised practical training. Supervision may be provided by an alcohol and drug counselor who is certified as a clinical supervisor or who holds a reciprocal level certification at least equal to the one the supervisee is seeking. It may also be provided by an individual who holds licensing as a doctor, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, or clinical social worker or who has earned a PhD.

All certifications require work experience (paid and/or voluntary). The CADC requires three years of experience; the CADC I, four; the CADC II, five. The CAADC credential requires the equivalent of just two full-time years.

Candidates must submit a written case. Once other requirements have been met, the candidate will be authorized to take the certification examination.

MAAP also offers nonreciprocal introductory credentials.

The MAAP Application Process

Candidates may submit a form to request a certification handbook and application materials (https://msaap.net/certification); a fee of $30 to $40 will be assessed at this stage.

The application packet is known as a portfolio. A candidate will provide documentation of education, experience, and training. The candidate must also secure written assessments from several individuals, including a professional who directed supervised practical training and a supervisor or project director from the workplace; these will be sent directly to the certification board.

The IC& RC examination is currently offered four times a year in Mississipi.

Fees will vary depending on whether one is a member of the Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals (https://msaap.net/certification). Membership is currently $50 for a student and $90 for a professional. The portfolio processing fee is $100 for members and $150 for nonmembers. Examination fees include a one-year membership. The examination costs $150 for members and $240 for those who are not yet members.

Additional Information

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health/ Division of Professional Licensure and Certification can be reached by telephone at 601-359-5360 or by email at ‘place at dmh.state.ms.us’. Information is available on the web at www.dmh.ms.gov.

The Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals (https://msaap.net/certification) can be reached by telephone at 601-321-2085.