Chemical Dependency Counselor

Chemical dependency counselors work with clients who struggle with substance abuse issues. This type of counselor assists those in need through individual and group counseling. These mental health professionals may also counsel family members and friends of the abuser.

A major responsibility of this profession is designing a personalized recovery program with the patient. Chemical dependency counselors focus on helping their clients recognize unhealthy behavior patterns. They work with their patients to develop healthier habits and coping strategies to avoid returning to a chemically dependent lifestyle.

Responsibilities related to this profession are:

  • Keeping and maintaining accurate records of patient histories and progress.
  • Counseling patients and family members in individual and group settings.
  • Developing individualized client plans based on patient history, current research and clinical experience.
  • Conducting workshops and seminars about chemical dependency and how to avoid it.
  • Working cooperatively with other health professionals (doctors, nurses, social workers, etc) on behalf of the patient.
  • Evaluating client progress based on established goals and making changes to the client plan as needed for success.
  • Planning and treating patients after release from treatment programs.
  • Collecting and analyzing urine samples to determine patient’s level of dependency.

Chemical Dependency Counselor Degrees

Chemical dependency counselors, unlike other mental health counselors, may find employment with only a bachelor’s degree and specialty certification in substance abuse counseling. However, a graduate degree in substance abuse counseling is common among chemical dependency professionals and some states require that level of education for all counselors.

Although requirements vary geographically, many states require counselors to be licensed. This licensure may require passing an exam and/or completing continuing education credits.

Chemical Dependency Counselor Salary*

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for this type of counselor in 2008 was $37,030 a year. Chemical dependency counselors employed by hospitals and government agencies tend to earn higher salaries than those counselors working in substance abuse facilities. This profession is expected to grow by 21%, as noted in BLS reports, which is faster than average.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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