Nebraska substance abuse counselors are licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). They must hold licensure unless exempted by state statute.
Though a governmental department, DHHS is also an International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/ Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (IC&RC/ AOD) member board. Substance abuse counselors credentialed as Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADCs) enjoy reciprocity with many member boards across the United States.
A person may become an LADC with either a high school diploma or a college degree. Nebraska, unlike many states, does not issue advanced substance abuse counseling credentials to professionals with graduate degrees. However, some professionals hold multiple credentials through DHHS. An individual who completes a graduate program may qualify for licensure as a Mental Health Practitioner and certification as a Licensed Professional Counselor. This can broaden scope of practice. The Nebraska LADC is not a mental health license; LADCs refer clients who need treatment for co-occurring disorders.
Among those exempt from the LADCs license requirement are members of other professions who are practicing within their scope of practice. Prospective counselors should be aware that some positions in the field are reserved for professionals with advanced education.
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Whatever his or her degree level, a prospective licensee will need 270 hours of education. Education may take the form of 1) college or university coursework or 2) institutes, seminars, or workshops.
The student must have 45 hours of education in each of the following content areas:
The student will need 30 hours in each of the following:
The licensing agency also requires 15 hours of ethics.
A number of Nebraska schools have submitted their courses for pre-approval. The Department of Health and Human Services maintains a list of schools along with approval date and approved course titles.
Students who earn academic degrees in addictions and related fields can reduce their work experience period. Those who pursue degrees at the graduate level may also meet educational standards for mental licensing.
The prospective LADC will need 300 hours of practical training that is based on core functions identified by the IC&RC. The training will need to meet requirements described in state regulation.
The practical training supervisor may be an LADC, a substance abuse counselor credentialed at the reciprocal level by another IC&RC member board, or a physician or psychologist who has sufficient training. There are three pathways that a physician can use to demonstrate adequate training. The licensing agency can accept certification through the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) or a sub-specialty in addiction psychiatry through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. A physician may also qualify on the basis of significant experience and continuing medical education.
Prospective LADCs must meet a supervised practice requirement. During this time, they will have a caseload of clients for which they carry out alcohol and drug counseling duties.
A person who is earning experience within Nebraska will hold Provisional Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (PLADC) licensure during this time. A provisional licensee will need one hour of individual or group supervision for every hour of paid experience.
Provisional licensees who do not hold degrees must accrue 6,000 hours of experience. The minimum timeframe is three years; the licensing agency can credit no more than 40 hours per week.
A person who pursues an associate’s degree in addictions or chemical dependency can reduce his or her experience requirement by 1,000 hours. A person who holds a bachelor’s degree in addiction, counseling, psychology, social work, or sociology can reduce his or her experience requirement by 2,000 hours. If the degree is at the graduate level, the experience period is reduced by 4,000 hours.
A worker can hold provisional status for up to six years.
A candidate must take the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) exam. DHHS can grant approval only after the individual has earned provisional licensure. Examination applications can be downloaded from the ‘forms’ section of the DHHS website (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/pages/crlADCExam.aspx).
Candidates are referred to the IC&RC website for candidate handbooks.
Application materials can be downloaded from the DHHS website (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/pages/crlADCAppsReqsFees.aspx).
In-state applicants apply first at the PLADC level. They must document education and practical training at this time.
Licenses must be renewed every other year.
Nebraska grants reciprocity to alcohol and drug counselors who are credentialed by other IC&RC jurisdictions. Out-of-state substance abuse counselors will need to submit applications and provide information about any legal or professional discipline history they may have.
Information about substance abuse counseling licensure is available from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/crlADCHome.aspx). The Licensure Unit can be reached by phone at 402-471-4970. Additional contact information can be found on the DHHS website (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/pages/crlADCContactInfo.aspx).
DHHS can also provide information about graduate level mental health licensing (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/crlMHPSWHome.aspx).
The Nebraska Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors is the state affiliate of an established professional association (http://www.naadac.org/nebraska).