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Addiction Counselor Requirements in South Carolina

South Carolina requires professional counselors to hold licensing. Excluded from licensing requirements are professionals who hold recognized state or national certification as addiction counselors and who work under supervision at state facilities (http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t40c075.php). South Carolina's certification agency is the South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. SCAADAC is an affiliate of the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).

The minimum requirement is an associate's degree. Addiction counselors must also complete a supervised work experience requirement and pass an examination. Counselor certification is issued at two levels: Certified Addiction Counselor I, or CAC I, and Certified Addiction Counselor II, or CAC II. SCAADAC also issues Certified Clinical Supervisor credentials.

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Certified Addiction Counselor I Requirements

A CAC I may earn an associate's degree in human services or a bachelor's degree in any field. The candidate must have 270 hours of coursework related to core counseling functions. Content areas include human growth and development, helping relationships, psychopathology, psychopathology diagnosis, appraisal, social and cultural foundations, groups, career and lifestyle development, research and evaluation, and professional orientation. SCAADC notes that most, but not all, social and behavioral health courses are creditable. Introductory coursework in health promotion, psychology, sociology, religion, or anthropology may be credited. The candidate must document six hours of training in ethics and three in HIV/AIDS.

A semester hour at the undergraduate level is worth ten hours while a semester hour at the graduate level is worth 15. The value of a quarter hour is one semester hour multiplied by .667. The minimum grade is ‘C’. Workshops may be credited, but those that are not approved by NAADAC or other accepted agencies should be pre-approved; the certifying agency suggests inquiring before paying fees.

The CAC I is dependent on completing 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. The trainee will need 150 clinical supervision hours. Candidates must pass the Level I written examination and an oral examination.

The certification agency notes that internship or practicum may be creditable as either experience or education.

Certified Addiction Counselor II Requirements

The CAC II credential may also be achieved by individuals with degrees at the associate’s or baccalaureate levels; again, a degree at the baccalaureate level will be accepted whatever the major. At this level, the individual will need 450 hours of related education. The credential is not awarded until a counselor has 4,000 hours of experience – the equivalent of four full-time years. A CAC II candidate will take the NCAC Level II examination.

The Application Process

Application materials are found in the certification manual, which can be downloaded from the SCADAAC site; candidates will select the ‘certification’ tab (http://www.scaadac.org/index.html). The certification board stresses the importance of making sure that one has the most current version of the document.

The applicant will need to sign a code of ethics and write up a case record and treatment philosophy. The job description is to be signed by an employer. A current supervisor will fill out the evaluator’s statement and submit it directly to the certification board. Transcripts must also be sent directly from the school. Other trainings may be verified through certificates.

A candidate cannot be scheduled for written and oral examinations until all other requirements have been met and the file is complete. The candidate must observe file deadlines and request/ fee deadlines. The oral examination is administered four times a year (http://www.scaadac.org/EventsSchedule/examdeadlineschedule/oral.html). Written examinations are administered on a monthly basis. Candidates can find information about upcoming examinations by selecting the educational events/ schedules tab. Tips and resources are also available.

A candidate who does not pass the oral examination will be allowed to retake it. The Certification Commission will provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates. Candidates who make revisions to their case studies will need to submit these in advance. The Certification Commission will allow up to three attempts at the oral examination. Beyond this point, a candidate must re-apply. If any requirements remain unmet three years after initial application, the application is no longer valid.

Associated fees will vary, depending on whether one is a member of the NAADAC professional organization. The application is $175 for members and $225 for nonmembers. Members pay no additional fee for the written examination beyond what is assessed by the testing center; nonmembers pay $65. Members pay $100 for oral examination while nonmembers pay $175. Candidates who must retake an examination remit a second fee (if applicable). Addiction counselors applying for upgrade will pay $75 or $125 depending on status. Candidates wishing to join the organization may apply online.

Reciprocity

SCAADAC will grant reciprocity based on credentials issued by NAADAC, the International Reciprocity and Certification Consortium (IC&RC), or by state boards that utilize NAADAC or IC&RC examinations (http://www.scaadac.org/documents/Reciprocity%20Checklist.pdf). Reciprocity candidates will need to document education, experience, and examination. Those who have not yet passed oral examinations will be required to submit case studies and treatment philosophies. NAADAC members pay $175; other reciprocity candidates pay $225. NAADAC members must include a copy of their membership card.

While there is a member board of the IC&RC in South Carolina, it offers credentials only to prevention specialists (http://internationalcredentialing.org/Sys/PublicProfile/12938099/1738791). Currently, addiction professionals do not go through this organization for reciprocity of their counseling credentials.

Clinical Supervisor Requirements

A CAC II who holds a degree at the baccalaureate level or higher can eventually be certified as a clinical supervisor. The professional will need 10,000 hours of experience; at this level, either human services or alcohol and drug counseling experience may be accepted. A candidate whose highest degree is a bachelor’s will need 250 hours of education in core functions; candidates with master’s degrees in clinical fields do to not need to demonstrate these hours. The certifying agency will require 30 hours of education specifically related to supervision, regardless of degree level. The candidate will submit a supervision philosophy. Oral examination will be required.

Additional Information

The South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors can be reached at 803-540-7527.