Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in Mississippi: Certified Addiction Therapist (CAT) and Certified Alcohol and Drug Addictions Counselor (CADC) Certification

Professionals can work at Mississippi-licensed alcohol/ drug abuse programs on the strength of different credentials. The requirements depend on position. For some positions, it is necessary to have both a master’s degree and a mental health license or other qualifying credential; this combination can allow a provider to receive Medicaid reimbursement for services provided. The Department of Mental Health has a credential, Certified Addiction Therapist or ‘CAT’, that is specifically for therapists who hold master's degrees but do not hold professional mental health licenses.

Residential counselors may be hired on the strength of bachelor's degrees in qualifying fields; they will need to complete approved certification programs post-hire. Bachelor’s level professionals take on other roles such as community support specialist.

Some substance abuse job postings reference Certified Alcohol and Drug Addictions Counselor (CADC) certification. This is issued by a third party organization, the Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals.

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Certified Addiction Therapist (CAT) Requirements

The state-issued Certified Addiction Therapist (CAT) credential requires at least a master's degree. The degree program will not necessarily be as lengthy as what is required for professional mental health licenses though a student should recognize that it may not confer as wide a range of opportunities; the minimum is 30 semester hours. The master's degree may be in addiction counseling or addiction studies or may be in any of a number of other fields. The list includes healthcare administration, family and consumer studies, health science, criminal justice, and nursing, among others. A graduate who has a degree that is not included on the list may still qualify on the basis of having five courses in Board-accepted areas. Accepted courses may focus specifically on addictions or may develop general counseling/ therapy skills. The following are among the possibilities:

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Group dynamics
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Personality science
  • Physiology and pharmacology of addiction
  • Sociology of addictive behavior
  • Theories of counseling
  • Treatment of addictive behavior

The first credential that a personal who is qualifying under the CAT pathway will typically be eligible for is Provisional Certified Addiction Therapist, or PCAT. Full certification at the CAT level requires 24 months of experience. Although the experience is typically earned at a Mississippi-licensed facility, the Board may consider other experience accrued before application. Up to six months may be credited for a graduate internship in the behavioral sciences.

A candidate can also attain the CAT credential with a doctoral degree (which may or may not be in a discipline that is recognized as credential-qualifying at the master’s level).

The Certified Addiction Therapist Application Process

The prospective CAT will complete a web-based training and go through a criminal background check process.

Application materials can be downloaded from the website of the Department of Mental Health (http://www.dmh.ms.gov/providers/professional-licensure-and-certification-place/).

The Review Board will require official transcripts.

There is a $75 CAT application fee.

Substance abuse counselors retain the CAT credential only so long as they are employed at state mental health system programs.

Bachelor's Level Residential Counselors

In order to be qualified as a residential counselor in a state facility, a substance abuse counselor will need a bachelor’s degree in a behavioral science or mental health field. The worker will need to achieve a recognized certification within three years of commencing employment.

Certification through the Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals

The Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals is the state member of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium.

MAAP offers multiple credentials. Fully three are reciprocal with other IC&RC boards at the Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) level. The most basic is Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC). The CADC credential is not dependent on having a college degree (though non-degreed professionals can expect some limitations in their employment options). The Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor I (CADC I) is bachelor's level; the CADC II, master's level. Each of these credentials is dependent on completing 270 hours of related education and 300 hours of supervision specific to IC&RC domains. Each requires a period of supervised work experience. CADC experience requirements go up with certification level; a CADC needs only 6,000 hours while a CADC II needs 10,000. The candidate will go through an examination process that involves written examination and case presentation.

MAAP also offers a certification for master's level providers that requires less experience but is reciprocal at a higher level. It is the Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC). In order to achieve this credential, the substance abuse counselor must have 4,000 hours of experience at the advanced alcohol and drug counselor level and must pass the IC&RC examination at the advanced level.

A person may begin the credentialing process as an Intern Counselor (IC). This is a nonreciprocal credential. A substance abuse worker at this level will need 186 hours of education. He or she will provide three personal references.

Additional Information

Information about Mississippi Certified Addiction Therapist credentialing is available from the Mississippi Division of Professional Licensure and Certification, or ‘PLACE’ (http://www.dmh.ms.gov/providers/professional-licensure-and-certification-place). PLACE can be reached by telephone at 601-359-5360 or by email at 'place at dmh.state.ms.us'.

Information about third party alcohol and drug counseling certification is available from the Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals (http://www.msaap.net).

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