Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in New York

New York substance abuse counselors are credentialed by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).The official title is Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC). There are more than 7,000 CASACs in the state.

Education and Examination Requirements

The prospective CASAC must have 350 hours of education that addresses substance abuse counseling knowledge and skills. Educational requirements are distributed as follows:

At least 85 will develop knowledge of alcoholism and substance abuse.

At least 150 will be related to alcohol and abuse counseling. Of these, 15 will be designed to develop cultural competence.

At least 70 will be in the following combined subject areas: assessment, treatment planning, clinical evaluation, case management, and education.

At least 45 will be devoted to ethical and professional responsibility. This category will include 15 hours that specifically address ethics for addiction professionals and two that offer preparation for one’s role as mandatory reporter of child abuse.

Expected course content is described in the application packet. Distance education is acceptable if the coursework is approved by the National Addiction Technology Transfer Center or is offered by an OASAS-certified provider or an accredited college or university. A semester hour is credited as 15 contact hours.

OASAS has developed a standardized certificate program (https://www.oasas.ny.gov/training/index.cfm). All students who are beginning their studies in New York will now complete the standardized curriculum.

Some requirements may be credited for work completed as part of the academic coursework for a degree program. However, this can only be determined through transcript review.

Degrees in applicable fields can be used to offset experience requirements. Approximately 30 qualifying disciplines have been identified. Among them are anthropology, music therapy, community mental health, gerontology, divinity, nutrition, psychology, rehabilitation counseling, social work, and special education. Other degrees can receive consideration, provided that the individual has had sufficient human service coursework.

The OASAS has provided a lengthy list of topics that may be assessed on the examination. Among them are the diagnostic criteria and placement processes, the various theories and models of addiction, the way that substance abuse can mimic other illnesses, the importance of support systems in recovery, and the needs and communication patterns of different ethnic groups and special populations.

New York uses the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) examination. A candidate can take the examination after completing the required 350 educational hours. Examinations are delivered via computer at ISO Quality Testing Centers.

Formal internships may be credited as either education or experience.

The CASAC is not an independent practice license. The minimum requirements are lower for the CASAC than they are for mental health licenses such as mental health counselor. The minimum educational level is high school graduation or equivalency.

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services is an IC&RC member board. In order to be credentialed through the New York board and not through one located in another state, a person must live or work in the state more than half of the time.

Prospective CASACs can complete their supervised practice requirements while working under CASAC Trainee (CASAC-T) status.

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Experience Requirements

The person will, in most cases, need to complete a post-degree experience requirement while working under supervision in an approved facility. There are multiple work settings possible, including facilities operated by OSAS, facilities operated by the federal government, and ones that have been approved by OSAS or are similarly approved or licensed in another state.

A non-degreed individual will need fully 6,000 hours of qualifying experience. An individual with an associate's degree in an accepted human service field can be credited with 1,000 hours. A graduate with a similar degree at the bachelor's level can be credited with 2,000 hours. A qualifying degree at the master's level can be credited as 4,000 hours.

The prospective CASAC will need 120 hours of supervision, with minimum hours in domains described by the IC&RC.

The Application Process

Application forms and instructions can be downloaded from the OASAS website. The same application form is used for CASAC and CASAC Trainee. It is to be mailed to the Credentialing Unit in Albany along with a $100 fee and ‘Part A’ and ‘Part D’ documentation; the purpose of Part D documentation is to verify that educational requirements have been met.

An application is kept open for five years. The applicant will receive a trainee certificate once it is determined that he or she is eligible. A three-year extension may be granted in cases where a trainee is still working toward meeting requirements.

‘Part B’ and ‘Part C’ documentation must be submitted before the license can be granted. The prospective CASAC will need to document experience. He or she will need to have three people provide evaluations of competency and ethical conduct.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselors

Individuals credentialed through other IC&RC member boards may be granted reciprocity. They will follow the usual IC&RC process which entails requesting an application from their current member board (https://www.oasas.ny.gov/sqa/credentialing/reciprocity.cfm). New York imposes some additional licensing requirements, including a criminal background check.

Additional Information

LASAC licensing information is available from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (http://www.oasas.ny.gov/). The Credentialing Unit can be reached by email at ‘credentialing at oasas.ny.gov’ or by telephone at 1-800-482-9564 .

The Association for Addiction Professionals of New York is an additional professional resource (https://naadacny.wordpress.com). AAPNY is the state chapter of a well-known national professional association, now known as the Association for Addiction Professionals.

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