Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Human Services > Counseling & Mental Health Services

Projected Growth:

Projected Job Openings

Extensive Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to Counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, drug, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. May counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

Common job titles of Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors include:

Experience and Education

Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.

  • 30.17% said they needed a Master's Degree.

  • 19.36% said they needed a Bachelor's Degree.


    Complete and maintain accurate records or reports regarding the patients' histories and progress, services provided, or other required information.

    Supervise or direct other workers providing services to clients or patients.

    Counsel clients or patients, individually or in group sessions, to assist in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, or making changes.

    Interview clients, review records, and confer with other professionals to evaluate individuals' mental and physical condition and to determine their suitability for participation in a specific program.

    Instruct others in program methods, procedures, or functions.

    Coordinate activities with courts, probation officers, community services, or other post-treatment agencies.

    Participate in case conferences or staff meetings.

    Conduct chemical dependency program orientation sessions.

    Provide clients or family members with information about addiction issues and about available services or programs, making appropriate referrals when necessary.

    Intervene as an advocate for clients or patients to resolve emergency problems in crisis situations.

    Review and evaluate clients' progress in relation to measurable goals described in treatment and care plans.

    Develop client treatment plans based on research, clinical experience, and client histories.

    Train or supervise student interns or new staff members.

    Assess individuals' degree of drug dependency by collecting and analyzing urine samples.

    Follow progress of discharged patients to determine effectiveness of treatments.

    Confer with family members or others close to clients to keep them informed of treatment planning and progress.

    Act as liaisons between clients and medical staff.

    Counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting clients or patients.

    Plan or implement follow-up or aftercare programs for clients to be discharged from treatment programs.

    Coordinate counseling efforts with mental health professionals or other health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, or social workers.

    Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in client status.

    Develop, implement, or evaluate public education, prevention, or health promotion programs, working in collaboration with organizations, institutions, or communities.

    Attend training sessions to increase knowledge and skills.


Personal digital assistants PDA

Personal computers

Notebook computers

Desktop computers



Microsoft Excel

ACMS Casewatch Millenium

Addison Health Systems WritePad EMR Systems

Allscripts Canopy

Anasazi Software Assessment and Treatment Plan Systems

Athena Software Penelope Case Management

Cadence Solutions extendedReach

All Technologies

Case management software E-Reports

Client System

danic Technology

EAG Economic Analysis Group CaseTrack

Email software

IBM Lotus Notes

IMA Technologies CaseTrakker

Libera System7

Online informational database software

Practice Technology Prevail

Presentation software

Scheduling software

Spreadsheet software

Statistical software

STI Computer Services ChartMaker

Varian Medical Systems

Web browser software

Word processing software


Active Listening

Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.


Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Social Perceptiveness

Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Reading Comprehension

Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Service Orientation

Actively looking for ways to help people.

Active Learning

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.


Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

Learning Strategies

Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

Complex Problem Solving

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.


Teaching others how to do something.

Systems Analysis

Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Systems Evaluation

Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.


Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Time Management

Managing one's own time and the time of others.

Management of Personnel Resources

Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.


Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Comprehension

Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Expression

Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Written Comprehension

Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Written Expression

Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Problem Sensitivity

Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Deductive Reasoning

Speak clearly so others can understand you.

Auditory and Speech Abilities › Sensory Abilities › Speech Clarity

Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Inductive Reasoning

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