A State by State Counselor Guide

Substance Abuse Counselor Certification and Licensure in Arkansas

Arkansas recognizes substance abuse practitioners at multiple levels that roughly correspond with levels identified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Arkansas substance abuse counselors work under either government-issued credentials or established third party credentials. Employers may seek those licensed by the Arkansas State Board of Examiners of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (SBEADAC) or certification by the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board (ASACB).

ASACB is specifically referenced in the state’s standards for licensed substance abuse facilities. Unlicensed and uncertified staff members are to be registered with ASACB unless they are working at the facility as part of an internship or practicum experience in some other discipline. A person who has not yet earned certification may hold status as a Counselor in Training through ASACB.

There are many similarities in requirements between the certification agency and the state board. A student who plans his or her path well will eventually be eligible for credentialing through either organization.

A degreed professional can expect to achieve certification more quickly than licensure. SBEADAC rewards drug and alcohol counselors who have education at the bachelor’s level with their own category of licensure. ASACB does not have an alcohol and drug certification that is specifically for bachelor’s level professionals – the basic counselor certification can be achieved with less – but the organization does award a co-occurring disorders certification to qualifying practitioners at the bachelor’s level. Both organizations have an advanced counselor certification for practitioners at the master’s level.

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Licensure through the State Board of Examiners of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors

The State Board of Examiners of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (SBEADAC) is a governmental entity, created by Arkansas statute. Act 443 of 2009 describes licensing requirements for alcoholism and drug abuse counselors. It also describes a number of exemptions where licensing is not required. Professionals who work for governmental agencies are among those who will not always hold licensure.

There are three levels of state licensing or certification: Licensed Alcoholism and Drug Counselor (LADAC), Licensed Associate Alcoholism and Drug Counselor (LAADAC), and Certified Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Technician (CADAT). The licensing act also makes reference to registered clinical supervisors.

A Licensed Alcoholism and Drug Counselor must hold a master's degree in an appropriate field; this may be a branch of health or behavioral science. A Licensed Associate Alcoholism and Drug Counselor will hold a degree in a similar field, but his or her degree will be at only the bachelor's level.

There is a similarity in stated the stated requirements between the LADAC and LAADAC credentials. Both require 270 hours of approved education. In order to be approved, the education must be directly related to alcohol or drug abuse counseling practice, theory, or research. A professional at either level must work 6,000 hours (three years) under supervision before achieving license eligibility. Supervised experience is to be documented by a registered clinical supervisor; a list of supervisors is available on the Board site (http://www.sbeadac.org/licensure_info.html).

Even the designation ‘Certified Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Technician’ is limited to workers who have met an experience requirement. CADATs have a more limited scope of practice.

The licensing act states that a technician cannot achieve counselor status without meeting the stated requirements. A person cannot achieve a higher license through experience alone.

The State Board of Examiners requires all licensees and certificate holders to be at least 21 years of age.

The SBEADAC License Application Process

License applicants must submit notarized application forms. The form is available for download from the Board website (http://www.sbeadac.org/licensure_info.html).

The applicant must sign a code of ethics. The State Board will also require three references.

Official transcripts are used to document degree.

Licenses are renewed biennially.

Achieving Certification through the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board

ASACB is the state member of the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC & RC). Alcohol and drug abuse counselors beyond the entry level enjoy reciprocity with boards in many other states.

Reciprocal level certifications include Alcohol Drug Counselor (ADC) and Advanced Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor (AADC). On the surface, the ADC experience requirement is similar to that of the state-issued LADAC: 6,000 hours or three years. However, this requirement is for non-degreed counselors. Candidates who have degrees can in fact reduce their ADC experience requirement. A bachelor's degree is worth 2,000; a master's degree, 4,000. Even an associate's degree may be credited as 1,000 hours. The domain-specific education requirement is 270 hours. The prospective ADC must complete a 300-hour supervised practicum. Certification is by examination.

The AADC can only be achieved with a master's degree in a behavioral science or human services field. The program is to include clinical application. A professional can earn the credential with just 180 hours of education in specific areas identified by the IC&RC. The person will need six clock hours of training in co-occurring disorders. The AADC has a relatively brief experience requirement: one year.

The Counselor in Training, or CIT credential is for individuals who are working toward certification.

The Certification Board also offers a Clinical Supervisor (CS) certification. A professional cannot earn CS certification until he or she has at least five years of total substance abuse counseling experience with at least two years spent providing clinical supervision.

Additional Information

Information about state licensing is available from the Arkansas State Board of Examiners of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (http://www.sbeadac.org/). SBEADAC can be reached by telephone at (501) 295-1100.

Information about IC&RC substance abuse certification is available from the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board (http://www.asacb.com/certifications.html). Reciprocity inquiries should be addressed to (501) 749-4040.

Additional information about state substance abuse programs is available from the Arkansas Division of Behavioral Health Services (http://humanservices.arkansas.gov/dbhs/Pages/dbhs_services.aspx).