In Fort Myers, Florida, addiction counselors are certified on three different levels: CAS, CAC, and CAP, with CAP being the highest level of certification. The certification process itself is long and arduous for counselors, so when you see any level of certification, you can be sure that the counselor went through a long process to become so. It’s a sign that you can have confidence in the counselor’s knowledge of addiction, their ability to diagnose on different levels, and of course, a sign of education, experience, and caring about the profession.
Not every counselor bothers to get certified to work with addicts, so just because you see a counselor somewhere doesn’t mean you’re getting the expertise and knowledge of a truly certified addiction counselor. In order to find a counselor who is certified above and beyond the call of duty, look for these three certifications.
CAS and CAC
A Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS) is the first step in continuing knowledge and expertise in the field. In order to become a Certified Addiction Specialist, a counselor must complete requirements such as passing a criminal background check, working over 2,000 hours in A&D treatment with supervision, and obtaining three personal letters of recommendation. This is just the beginning of the certification process, though, because you can go even further in a field with the next level.
In order to get a CAC (Certified Addiction Counselor) certification, counselors must work 6,000+ hours in A&D treatment with supervision, pass a Florida-specific A&D exam, and have over 250 hours of core A&D training. This can take a long time to amass the amount of education and experience in the field that a Certified Addiction Counselor must-have, so when you see one of these certifications, you know that you’re talking to a counselor who has really done a massive amount of work in their field.
To become a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), the requirements are ramped up even more. A counselor must have:
- A Bachelor’s Degree in a behavioral science field from a Council of Higher Education Accredited University
- 350 hours of core training in A&D treatment
- Pass a Florida-specific A&D exam
- 300 hours of direct supervision (with Bachelor’s degree)
- Pass the IC&RC/AODA Exam
And the list goes on and on. Certified Addiction Professionals are the foremost authorities in their field and have done an impressive amount of work in their educational pursuits and in their professional lives. In order to have the amount of experience they must have, they tend to be older, have worked with more clients, and simply understand addiction a little better than almost anyone in the world other than an addict themselves.
Why Certifications Matter
Completing a college degree is a wonderful accomplishment and is not to be diminished, but at the same time, there is so much more to counseling drug addicts and alcoholics than just the bare minimum education. When a counselor gets a certification, they’re showing that they have a passionate love of the field that not every student of behavioral science has. They’re showing that they are capable of passing exams about the subject, learning more, and performing well indirect supervision. It’s a good indicator that they know addiction well and how to get their clients better through counseling. It’s also a sign that they care about their patients and want to do the best job possible.
And while you can find a great counselor who isn’t certified – it does happen – it’s always preferable to have someone who has undergone direct supervision and furthered their education to learn more about what alcoholics and drug addicts go through on a daily basis. In order to help someone get well, you have to know what their disease is, how it affects them, and how to get them better. Thankfully there are many counselors out there who care very much about addicts and want to use their education and experience to help addicts rebuild their lives and thrive in their communities. Certification helps a counselor prove that they have gone above and beyond the call of duty and are skilled and educated in a way that helps them help addicts recover. It’s a prestigious undertaking and one that far too many counselors don’t even think to do.
If you want to find a compassionate, certified counselor, you can always call our counselors 24 hours a day. Just call 844-639-8371.