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How To Become a Substance Abuse Counselor In Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Counseling has issued the following regulations on how to become a Substance Abuse Counselor (SAC) in Virginia. An individual must hold the Substance Abuse Counselor credential in order to practice as such in the Commonwealth of Virginia. There are two paths to secure a SAC credential.  The first is certification by endorsement, whereby an applicant already is currently certified in another jurisdiction.

The second path -- licensure by examination, -- is for those who have never held a substance abuse counseling certification. There are several key requirements.

  • Official documentation of completing a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. In addition, 400 clock hours (220 hours of didactic training and 180 hours of experiential tasks) of substance abuse education from an accredited college or university, an integrated program approved by the Board or an individualized program of seminars and workshops to be approved by the Board.
  • Didactic training with a total of 220 hours, with a minimum of ten hours in each of the following areas: understanding the dynamics of human behavior; signs and symptoms of substance abuse; treatment approaches, group dynamics and recovery support groups; continuum of care and case management skills; recovery process and relapse prevention models; ethics; professional identity in the provision of substance abuse services and crisis intervention. In addition, applicants must have 20 hours of training in substance abuse counseling treatment and planning and substance abuse research and group counseling.
  • Submit evidence of successfully passing the Certified Substance Abuse Counselor Examination.

For more information contact the Virginia Board of Counseling, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Richmond, Virginia 23233

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