Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements in Iowa

Iowa requires that staff members who provide certain types of substance abuse services hold licensing or certification. A person can be qualified on the basis of a mental health or social work license. In many cases, this will require graduate education; a social worker, though, my hold licensure at the baccalaureate level. An addiction professional can also be qualified on the basis of a recognized state or national substance abuse certification. The National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) has listed the Iowa Board of Certification as the state organization responsible for issuing substance abuse certification.

Workers who have not yet met requirements for permanent certification or licensing may begin work under temporary credentials.

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Achieving Certification through the Iowa Board of Certification

The Iowa Board of Certification grants substance counseling certification at several levels. Some are reciprocal through the International Consortium of Certification and Reciprocity (IC&RC).

An applicant who applies for anything beyond the initial entry-level credential will need to submit a supervisor evaluation. Supervisors must meet requirements set by the Certification Board.

CADC/ tCADC: Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) is an Iowa-only credential. There are two tracks: experience and education.

The first certification that a counselor will be eligible for is Temporary Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor (tCADC); the tCADC is designed to give counselors who have not yet had the opportunity to meet experience requirements the opportunity to gain the needed experience. In order to be eligible, they must meet educational requirements at at least the CADC level. They can qualify by meeting CADC educational requirements under either the ‘education’ or ‘experience’ pathway. They must also pass the qualifying examination.

The tADC certification is issued for just two years. The substance abuse counselor will need to meet requirements for a higher certification during this time period if he or she wishes to continue in a position where certification is required.

A high school diploma or GED provides the foundation for the CADC. Either CADC pathway requires 150 hours of education relevant to the addiction counseling role. 105 hours must be distributed in specific content areas identified by the Board. The 150 hours may be completed as formal academic coursework, but does not have to be. A semester hour can be credited as 15 hours.

A CADC who is seeking certification by education will need fully 24 semester hours of coursework in substance abuse counseling or disciplines related to substance abuse counseling; the latter includes psychology, sociology, human services, and criminal justice, among others.

An applicant who is on the ‘education’ track will need to demonstrate six months of recent experience. An applicant who is on the ‘experience’ track will need fully a year and a half of experience (or 3,000 hours).

The trainee will need supervision in each of four identified domains. Counseling is one domain. The others are screening, assessment and engagement; treatment planning, collaboration, and referral; and ethics and professional responsibilities.

Ultimately, the counselor will need to pass the IC&RC ADC exam.

IADC: The International Alcohol and Drug Counselor (IADC) is a reciprocal credential. At this stage, the substance abuse counselor will need to demonstrate at least 300 hours of education in domains identified by the IC&RC.

Although college degrees are not mandated, they can shorten the time period it takes to earn the IADC credential. They can also lessen the amount of on-the-job supervision that is required in the four identified domains. Experience requirements range from 2,000 to 6,000 hours depending on education level; supervision requirements range from 100 to 300 hours. In order to qualify, a degree must be in a related field.

IAADC: The International Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (IAADC)is a reciprocal credential for counselors with education at at least the master’s level. The qualifying degree must be in a behavioral science field (for example, psychology, social work, human services, or criminal justice). A counselor at this level must accrue 2,000 hours of experience and have 300 hours of on-the-job supervision. He or she will take a more advanced certification examination: the IC&RC AADC exam.

The Certification Application Process

Application forms are available for download from the website of the Iowa Board of Certification (http://www.iowabc.org/). Candidate handbooks can be downloaded from the same page. These include application instructions and detailed information about requirements.

Applications are submitted before examination. An approved candidate can expect to be registered for the examination. He or she will schedule later. The examination is computer-delivered.

Applicants who are qualifying on the basis of academic education should have their transcripts mailed directly to the Certification Board.

The applicant will submit a $380 fee. This includes credential review, examination and certification.

Counselors who are certified at the tCADC or CADC level may submit upgrade applications when they meet CADC or IADC requirements; counselors who have met requirements for the IAADC will submit the full application.

Recertification will be required every two years. Substance abuse counselors must provide evidence of continued professional development. There is an ethics requirement.

Peer Recovery Support Specialist Certification

The Iowa Board of Certification implemented a peer support credential in late 2015. This is designed for individuals who are in recovery. The foundation is high school graduation or GED. Peer recovery specialists must complete 46 hours of relevant education and accrue 500 hours of experience; volunteer work is creditable. There is an examination. The resulting credential is reciprocal with 18 other jurisdictions.

Additional Information

Information about substance abuse certification is available from the Iowa Board of Certification (http://www.iowabc.org/). The Iowa Board of Certification can be reached by telephone at 515-965-5509 or by email at 'info at iowabc.org'.

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