IntroductionAddictions Counselors fill a unique role among health and human services professionals. They work in a variety of settings and use a variety of treatment approaches. Also, they recognize the need to assure quality care to consumers. Toward that end, MBSACC (Massachusetts Board of Substance Abuse Counselor Certification) has designed this credentialing system that evaluates counselor competency and grants recognition to those counselors who meet specified minimum standards. It identifies the functions, responsibilities, knowledge, and skill bases required by an addictions counselor in the performance of his/her job.
The Massachusetts certification process is designed to measure addictions counselor competency - the ability to counsel substance abusing clients. It defines an addictions counselor's role and function, and thus identifies the special place for this individual among other health/human service providers. MBSACC recognizes that addictions counselors are necessarily educated in a wide range of disciplines, therapeutic approaches and counseling techniques. Addictions counselors are professionals with diverse educational and experiential backgrounds. This certification system is designed to accommodate and evaluate both degreed and non-degreed counselors. It defines the core knowledge and skill bases needed by all counselors regardless of treatment setting or professional training and orientation.
The Massachusetts system defines a baseline standard for addictions counselors. Counselors are given recognition for meeting specific predetermined criteria. The purpose is to insure that quality service is available to substance-abusing clients. It provides a professional credential that can guide employers and prospective clients in selecting competent counselors. Certification has limitations. It does not guarantee quality and integrity in and of itself. However, it does provide an operative paradigm for professional growth.
Although there is considerable overlap in the fund of knowledge and skills required for both, alcoholism counseling and drug counseling can be intelligently partitioned; two distinct components can be delineated. A definable body of knowledge has resulted from a sustained effort to create an efficient certification process. The professional competency can be measured against this compendium of knowledge and skills. Identification and definition of the specific tasks and responsibilities on the counselor have provided the baseline for the certification process.
Given the level of sophistication required to address the panoply of social, financial, psychological, and medical issues engendered by substance abuse, it is necessary to establish and maintain a certification organization. This organization is uniquely positioned and qualified to respond to the range of considerations that attach to substance abuse.
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