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Behavioral Disorder Counselor Training Options and Job Opportunities

Updated on January 27, 2012

A behavioral disorder counselor provides advice to patients with disorders such as gambling addiction and eating problems. They also typically deal with substance abuse. Aspiring counselors typically need a graduate counseling degree to get a job.

The usual goal is to get licensed and certified as a counselor, and specific certification for behavioral disorder counseling is beneficial for a career in this field. In fact, a license is generally required to operate on an independent basis as a behavioral disorder counselor. Because of this requirement and the need to maintain a high degree of professionalism and competence, employers are also typically looking for those with at least a master's degree in counseling who are licensed or in the process of preparing for the licensing exam.

States have their own rules, but the typical process of getting a license for all types of counselors is to get a master's degree and then take a licensing exam. Those who enter a graduate degree program in counseling do not necessarily need to specifically pick a program that focuses on behavior disorders. However, those who wish to specialize and get certified in this area should be aware that you will need to meet certain class and training or experience requirements.

A behavioral disorder counselor can either take a more general approach and then get certified based on work experience in behavioral disorder counseling or take a more specific approach by getting an internship in an office that provides counseling for behavior disorders and substance abuse. Schools with graduate degrees help place students in an internship, so that will not be a big problem.

Caution: Because the rules vary so much from state to state, check with individual state boards that issue licenses to behavioral disorder counselors. Do this before entering a graduate counseling degree program to make sure your school offers all the necessary courses in substance abuse and behavior disorders.

The National Board for Certified Counselors offers a special certification program that is relevant to the work of behavioral disorder counselors. The Master Addictions Counselor program has an exam that is separate from the more common National Counselor Examination. When you can and should take these licensing and certification exams depends on the rules of each state. Nonetheless, it is good goal to work to become a Master Addictions Counselor if you want to expand your career opportunities in the counseling of patients with behavior disorders and problems with substance abuse.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that there were about 78,000 counseling jobs in this field in May of 2010. The average salary was about $38,000. The biggest employers were outpatient care centers, residential mental health facilities, individual and family services organizations, general hospitals, and local government.

Resources:

National Board for Certified Counselors: Master Addictions Counselor Exam Information

GradSchools: Graduate Degree Programs Related to Behavioral Disorder Counseling

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Jobs and Salary for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

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