Addressing Addiction

Recent advancements in neuroscience, pharmacotherapy, and clinical practice are changing the way addictions professionals counsel their clients. Mental health and substance use disorder care are moving toward becoming a single, integrated practice and profession. And the body of research in the field is expanding at a rate that makes it essential for clinicians to stay informed.

three stacked stonesRecognizing the Issue

Not only is the discipline itself changing, the demand for qualified counselors is also on the rise. Employment of substance abuse counselors is expected to grow 22 percent through 2024 (US Department of Labor, Dec. 17, 2015), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that over the coming decade, 21,200 new counselor positions will be needed to fill this demand.

This employment gap is a result of several factors:

  • The Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance providers cover treatment for substance abuse.
  • As society becomes more knowledgeable about addiction, more people may choose to seek treatment.
  • Drug offenders are increasingly being sent to treatment programs rather than jail.
  • Many counselors are nearing retirement age.
  • More employers are offering employee assistance programs (EAP) that provide alcohol and drug abuse services.

Paving the Way

The College of Continuing Education has been responding to this industry need since the beginning. In 2012, we launched the Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH), a degree that teaches clinicians how to treat those suffering from both mental health and substance use disorders.

The program has seen impressive growth, with 24 IBH students walking at the CCE commencement ceremony this past spring—one of its graduates, Tanya Line, was selected to present the student address. Several students and faculty have gone on to receive notable promotions and media attention for their insight and expertise in the field.

This fall, CCE is again leading the charge in educating the next wave of practitioners. Our new Master of Professional Studies in Addictions Counseling (ADDC) focuses on how to prevent, identify, and treat substance use disorders through an integrated curriculum that considers the biological, social, and psychological factors of addiction.

ADDC students study:

  • evidence-based practices and evaluation
  • individual and group counseling skills
  • professional ethics
  • diversity and cultural sensitivity
  • co-occurring assessment and treatment interventions

In addition, a required internship confirms that graduates have the hands-on experience and applicable knowledge to enter the workforce immediately. The College, through the IBH program, has built relationships with and placed students in organizations such as Huss Recovery Center, St. Joseph's Hospital, Fairview, Minnesota Alternatives, PRIDE, and Wayside House.

Looking Ahead

We are well positioned to be a leader in addictions counseling education. Our expert faculty are at the forefront of this pioneering shift in the field, and as more clinics, treatment and recovery centers, and hospitals begin to modify their care, our graduates will be ready to step in and implement change.