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Addiction Counseling and Certification in Arizona Research Paper


This assignment is a summary of my interview and career path. In the summary, have discussed the findings of the interview and the research and whether I intend to modify my career plan. I have also defined the roles of the counselor in my area of specialization, that is, addiction counseling described the characteristics of an effective professional counselor in my field of specialization, and identified the licensing and certification standards of my specialization within the State of Arizona. Similarly, I have explored the professional associations for my specialty and briefly discussed the one which I believe is relevant to my career and practice.


The Nature of Counseling in General

Counseling can be defined as an interaction between a client (who is presumed to be in need of assistance) and a counselor (who is presumed to be ready, willing qualified, and competent enough to offer assistance) (Rogers, 1951). Clients may be faced with various problems or distress emanating from their internal or external environments. They may have grief, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, low self-esteem, relationship problems, work-related problems, family issues, and many more. The counselor is trained to acquire the necessary skills of helping the clients get relieved from the distress they have due to internal or external forces.

There are various approaches to counseling, all of which aim at helping clients solve their problems. However, it may not be easy for a counselor to be an expert in all of them but it is essential that the counselors are at least able to help the clients and in some situations in which they may be unable, they may refer the clients elsewhere so long as the clients will be assisted to solve their problems. In all theories or approaches, trust, confidentiality, and openness are very essential for successful counseling. Counselors are also supposed to avoid judging their clients but rather accept and understand them in their situations and plight (Corey, 2008).

Counseling is considered by psychologists as a helping profession. Just like other professions, counseling is guided by professional ethics and codes of conduct (Freeman, 2000). These are established to guard the public against unethical practices from quarks, who may pose as counselors. Counselors, therefore, undergo intensive training where they acquire skills, techniques, and competencies to use in their practice (Egan, 2007).

The techniques and skills which counselors acquire are unique and are aimed at helping different clients who have different problems. Some of the techniques which they use in counseling include attending, effective listening, and responding.

The skills they use include reflecting, questioning, confronting, informing, teaching, and interpreting among others (Burnard, 2005). The goals of counseling include enhancement of self-understanding, communication, learning and behavior change, self-actualization, and support by the counselor and or family members to the client (Geldard, & Geldard, 2005). Counseling has got several specialties that deal with specific aspects of counseling. One such specialty is addiction counseling, which I will be defined in the course of this discussion.

The Interview Summary

In my interview, I was interested in knowing more about my area of specialization from people who are experienced in the same. I managed to interview various counselors who are specialists in addiction counseling. What I garnered from all of them was that addiction counseling is associated with what they referred to as ‘counselors’ burn out’, especially due to the high number of addicts; which makes the counselors work extra hard to the extent of lacking enough time to relax, thus experiencing burn out.

They said that the field of addiction counseling is not as crowded with counselors as many other fields of counseling and that was partly the reason why the number of counselors was few when compared to the number of clients who need their services and to this regard, they explained to me that it is very easy for me to secure a job or establish one once I complete my master’s degree in addition counseling.

From the interviews, I got to know that addiction counselors belonged to specific associations that are registered and recognized by various authorities in our State. This was a surprise to me because I had expected all counselors to belong to a single large association that regulates their practice and standards of operations.

Based on the information I got from the interviews, I’m not intending to modify my career but would rather stick to addiction counseling despite the fact that counselors in that field usually experience burnouts. The reason why I choose to stick to addiction counseling is that I’m empathetic to addicts and have the passion to help them out of their situations because I do strongly believe that once helped, they may become good and productive citizens first to themselves and to the State and the Nation as a whole.

The other reason why I will not change my career path is that I enjoy working in fields which are crowded with patients because they provide me with a good opportunity to practice what I learn as theory and through consultation of the experts, I get a lot of experience as opposed to fields which have very few clients.

Roles of Addiction the Counselor

The addiction counselor has got many roles. One of the key roles of the counselor is assisting people to live a healthy life which is not under the influence of any form of addiction, be it alcohol, eating disorders, gambling, or even drugs. The addiction counselor may work with individuals (individual therapy) or with groups (group therapy). During the counseling sessions; the first thing for the addiction counselor to do is to reach an agreement with the clients(s) that there is a problem in existence that needs to be solved (Egan, 2007).

The counselor then proceeds to identify any behaviors which are linked to addiction and are causing distress and self-destruction to the client(s). The purpose of this is to bring the problems and behaviors to the attention of the client, so that he or she may acknowledge and appreciate the counseling sessions and own the results or outcomes of the therapeutic interaction with the counselor.

Characteristics of Effective Addiction Counselors

An effective addiction counselor must-have for one studied counseling up to a master’s level so as to acquire the necessary skills, techniques, and competencies on how to deal with addicts as well as how to operate in an ethical and professional manner. He or she must also be empathetic to the clients as well as a good listener, who should be able to do more listening than talking during the counseling sessions (Egan, 2007).

The counselor should also be able to adjust his or her emotional involvement so that it does not interfere with the counseling sessions through countertransference. Effective addiction counselors are also knowledgeable in more than one theory of counseling. They should also be knowledgeable about health-related issues and especially on mental disorders (Egan, 2007).

Licensing and Certification Standards in Arizona

In Arizona, all addiction counselors must be licensed so as to cushion the public from unprofessional and poor practice. All counselors are registered by the Arizona Board for the Certification of Addiction Counselors (ABCAC), which issues two categories of certificates namely the Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) and the Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADAC). The first category is for those counselors with high school education while the second category is for those counselors who have bachelor’s degrees in any specialty.

Apart from obtaining licenses from ABCAC, counselors also get certificates from the State of AZ Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (AzBBHE) to work as a Substance Abuse Counselor (SAC). For one to be licensed under this category, he or she must have a master’s or a doctorate degree in counseling from an accredited university (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005).

Professional Associations for Addiction Counselors in Arizona

There are two main professional associations in my specialty in Arizona and they include the Arizona Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (AzAADAC) and the Arizona Counselor Association (ACA). The AzAADAC, which I believe will be relevant to me deals specifically with research and enhancement of addiction counseling so as to have an addiction-free society. It also brings together all the addiction counselors mostly in seminars, where they share and discuss any emerging issues, challenges, and difficulties that they face in their work (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005).

The association also works with State and local government authorities to make policies on how to educate the community on the negative effects of addiction as well as how to curb the trafficking of drugs. It also lobbies both the State and local governments for improved living standards as well as for more job opportunities especially for the youth, who engage in addiction mostly due to idleness (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005).


Burnard, P. (2005). Counseling Skills for Health Professionals (4th Ed.). Cheltenham, UK: Nelson Thornes.

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2005). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: A National Review Of state Alcohol and Drug Treatment Programs and Certification Standards for Substance Abuse Counselors And Prevention Professionals. Maryland 20857: DHHS Publications.

Corey, G.,(2008). Case Approach to Counseling and Psychotherapy. Independence, KY: Cengage Learning Publishers.

Egan, G. (2007). The Skilled Helper: A Problem-Management and Opportunity-Development Approach to Helping (8th Ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Freeman, S. J. (2000). Ethics: An Introduction to Philosophy and Practice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

Geldard, D., & Geldard, K. (2005). Basic Personal Counseling: A Training Manual for Counselors (5th Ed.). Sydney: Pearson Education.

Rogers, C. (1951). Client-Centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications, and Theory. Boston:Houghton Mifflin.

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