Addiction Counselor Requirements in Montana

Montana addiction counselors are regulated by the Licensed Addiction Counselors Program of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry. Credentialing as a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) is based on education, examination, and supervised practice. There were some changes to the requirements in 2013.

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Educational Requirements

Students should pursue degrees at the associate’s level or higher (https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2009/mca/37/35/37-35-202.htm). Candidates educated at the associate’s level must hold degrees specifically in addiction, chemical dependency or drug and alcohol studies.

Candidates who hold degrees at the bachelor’s level or higher have a broader range of choices, including counseling, psychology, sociology, or social work.

Montana will also accept comparable degrees. In order to be considered comparable, the program must include the following:

  • Psychology, sociology, or human behavior – 6 credit hours
  • Psychopathology or deviant behavior – 3 credit hours
  • Counseling – 9 credit hours (including 3 in counseling theory and 6 in group counseling)

Coursework may be credited as being part of a comparable program whether it was taken at the associate’s, baccalaureate, or master’s level.

Candidates enrolling later than September 20, 2013 will need to verify 300 clock hours of education specific to addictions and counseling. Training may or may not take the form of traditional academic coursework A semester hour is considered equivalent to 15 contact hours. A quarter hour is considered equivalent to 10.

Specific coursework requirements are as follows:

  • Assessment, diagnosis, testing, and patient placement with patient placement criteria based on the American Society of Addiction Medicine or other nationally recognized criteria – 60 contact hours
  • Licensed addiction counseling – 90 contact hours
  • Drug and alcohol studies- 30 contact hours
  • Pharmacology – 30 contact hours
  • Documentation and treatment planning – 30 hours
  • Co-occurring disorders – 30 contact hours
  • Licensed Addiction Counselor ethics – 15 contact hours
  • Multicultural competencies – 15 contact hours

Pharmacology coursework must include detoxification and withdrawal as well as drug classification and effects.

A student who enrolled prior to September 20, 2013 is held to different standards regarding chemical dependency and counseling coursework (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E154%2E405).

Supervised Experience Requirements

An addiction counselor will need, at minimum, 1,000 hours of supervised practice (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E154%2E409). This is the equivalent of six months of full-time work experience. The counselor will need practice and supervisor observation in 11 defined skill areas. Minimum hours are as follows:

  • Screening – 30 hours
  • Assessment and patient placement – 100 hours
  • Treatment planning – 50 hours
  • Case management – 50 hours
  • Group counseling – 100 hours
  • Individual counseling – 60 hours
  • Referrals – 20 hours
  • Documentation – 35 hours
  • Client education – 35 hours
  • Multicultural competency – 10 hours
  • Ethical and professional responsibility – 10 hours

The above minimums are defined by Rule 24.154.409 and reflect 2013 to 2014 revisions (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E154%2E409). Candidates applying under the current application may find minor differences.

When it is time to begin supervised practice, an in-state candidate may apply for a temporary permit. This is not necessary, however, in the case of students completing university-supervised internship. Candidates earning hours outside of their academic program are not permitted to accrue supervised experience hours in more than two treatment settings. Volunteer work is acceptable if it takes place in a qualified setting and is supervised by an LAC in accordance with state policy. Qualified settings are defined in Rule 24.154.409 (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E154%2E409).

Supervisees will need weekly time sheets. These must be signed by the supervisor. Individuals who accrue hours in more than one setting will need separate time sheets for each setting, signed by the appropriate supervisor.

In order to be approved as a supervisor, an addiction counselor must have at least three years of post-licensure (or post-certification) chemical dependency experience in an approved setting.

The supervisee will need at least 80 hours of direct supervision over the course of the 1,000 experience hours (as per current application form). Requirements may be redefined by forthcoming rule.

Examination Requirements

The examination is typically the last requirement met. The NAADAC examination is the one generally taken; Level 1 is acceptable. Study resources for the NAADAC examinations can be found on the site of the Association for Addiction Professionals (http://www.naadac.org). The licensing agency notes that one may order a study guide from NAADAC by calling 1-800-548-0497.

Candidates who are working under temporary permits are authorized take the exam after supervised practice is complete. A counselor who fails an examination attempt is no longer authorized to work under a temporary permit.

The Licensed Addiction Counselor Program application lists the testing fee as $135. Fees are paid to the vendor (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E154%2E401).

Montana will also accept the Northwest or Southwest Certification examination at Level II (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E154%2E407).

Out-of-State Addiction Counselors

Out-of-state addiction counselors will need to provide verification from any state they have ever held licensing (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E154%2E408). Addiction counselors credentialed by other states or by the military may be endorsed into Montana if they have passed either the NAADAC exam (Level I or II) or another equivalent exam and were practicing continually as LACs in the two years before application. Endorsement candidates can verify supervision by affidavit if it is not possible to have the supervisor verify it.

Practice by LACs who are not Montana residents and not licensed within Montana can be carried out only on a very limited basis (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E154%2E420).

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the site of the Licensed Addiction Counselor Program (http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/lac_board/board_page.asp).

Official transcripts are required. Supervision is to be verified through submission of a summary sheet as well as weekly time sheets.

There is a fee of $250 (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E154%2E401).

Routine applications are typically processed within 30 days of receipt.

Additional Information

Questions can be directed to the Licensed Addiction Counselors Program (http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/lac_board/board_page.asp) via email contact form (http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/lac_board/email_form.asp). Interested parties can keep on top of rule changes by asking to be placed on the notification list.