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Chemical Dependency Counselor Requirements in Texas

Texas addiction counselors are licensed by the Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Program, a part of the Licensing and Certification Unit of the Department of State Health and Human Services.

A professional can earn the Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) credential by completing relevant education, fulfilling a supervised experience requirement, and performing satisfactorily on a licensing examination. While working to meet requirements, individuals are registered as Counselor Interns (CIs).

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Counselor Intern Requirements

A person can begin training as a counselor intern with a high school diploma or equivalency (http://info.sos.state.tx.us/pls/pub/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5&ti=25&pt=1&ch=140&sch=I&rl=Y). Individuals must be at least eighteen years old. Candidates who do not hold qualifying degrees are required to complete 270 hours, or eighteen semester hours, of relevant coursework. 135 hours must be in substance abuse disorders and treatment, the remaining hours must relate to chemical dependency counseling if they do not address the field directly. As per Rule 140.406, behavioral science, counseling, ethics, mental health, psychiatric nursing, psychology, and sociology are considered related.

Candidates must also complete a 300 hour practicum in the field. The program, whether paid or unpaid, must be under the auspices of a career school or accredited college or university. Training must be provided by Qualified Credentialed Counselors (QCCs). The student will observe and deliver addiction counseling services. The program must have a written curriculum and must include at least 20 hours in each KSA (Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes) dimension. The Board notes that KSA dimensions are from TAP 21 "Addictions Counseling Competencies: the Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes of Professional Practice.

Candidates who hold degrees at the bachelor's level or higher in substance abuse counseling or other approved fields are exempted from some requirements. These candidates do not need to demonstrate the 270 hours of coursework or the 300 hours of practicum. Approved fields relate to human development and behavior; psychology and sociology are both qualifying.

The counselor intern registration is issued for five years and may be reissued once for an additional three years. During this time frame, the intern must meet all LCDC requirements, which may include academic degree, work experience, and examination.

Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor: Education and Training Requirements

In order to move up to LCDC, an individual will need to hold a degree at the associate's level or higher. (The individual must also meet educational requirements at the intern level.)

Individuals will also need to accrue 4,000 hours of supervised work experience unless they hold qualifying graduate degrees. Work experience must be supervised by a Certified Clinical Supervisor (CSS) unless it is done through a clinical training institution (CTI). A CSS may be a chemical dependency counselor or a Qualified Credentialed Counselor (QCC) who holds licensing in an appropriate health discipline. Texas approves counselors for CSS status based on presentation of credentials from the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). The intern will not begin accruing experience until notification of successful registration is received.

Interns are assigned training activities as a supplement to actual job duties. They are classified by Level. Level I interns have up to 1,000 hours of experience. Level II interns have 1,001 to 2,000 hours of experience. Level III interns have 2,001 to 4,000 hours of experience. Interns will have weekly supervision and will have evaluations after completing work requirements at each level. After 4,000 hours have been accrued, the intern has graduate status but may continue to provide services under the intern registration. Rule 140.421 includes a detailed description of the training process.

As per Rule 140.408, the Board may waive the experience requirement for individuals who hold graduate degrees in counseling-related fields or in social work and who have completed at least 48 semester hours of coursework. Counseling-related is defined in administrative code to include psychology and marriage and family therapy but not dance therapy, education, or theology.

The licensing unit may accept work experience earned out-of-state if 1) the trainee was either certified or licensed in the other state or in the process of seeking credentialing and 2) the standards were at least equal to those of Texas.

Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor: Examination Requirement

The International Certification Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) examination is a licensure requirement. Candidates are eligible to take the examination as interns. Examinations are scheduled through the Texas Certification Board of Addiction Professionals (TCBAP). Candidates can visit the TCBAP website for information and study resources (http://www.tcbap.org/?page=A2). The organization notes that examinations are now offered via computer.

Texas candidates are allowed to take the licensing examination up to four times during their five years of intern registration.

Background Checks/ Criminal History Evaluations

Texas requires criminal background checks. Fingerprints are captured electronically using the Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST) system. Included in the application packet is a FAST fingerprint pass. It includes all required information to schedule an appointment through Identogo.

Candidates who have criminal records may pay a fee to have their eligibility determined before they enter educational programs (https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/plc_cheval.shtm). The fee for the service is currently $50.

The Application Process

An in-state candidate applies first at the CI level. Education must be documented through official transcripts except in the case of coursework which was completed as continuing education through a college or university; in this instance, a copy of the classroom certificate will suffice (https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/lcdc/lcdc_intern.shtm). If practicum was completed as continuing education, the applicant will need not only the certificate but a letter from the coordinator or chair. The applicant will confirm that fingerprints have been submitted and pay a $65 fee. The application requires notarization; a wallet-size photograph must be attached.

An intern’s CTI or CCS will submit documentation to the Board after the required 4,000 hours have been accrued. (Documentation will also be submitted if the intern leaves an agency prior to completion of the 4,000 hours.)

At the LCDC level, two letters of recommendation will be required. Application materials are available on the Department of Health Services website (https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/lcdc/lcdc_forms.shtm).

Additional Information

The Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Program (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/lcdc/) can be reached at (512) 834-6605.

The Texas Association of Addiction Professionals, the state NAADAC affiliate, is an additional professional resource (http://www.taap.org/).