Home > Mental Health > A Career as an Addictions Counsellor

A Career as an Addictions Counsellor

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 4 Apr 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Addictions Counselling Drug Alcohol

Counsellors play an important role in healthcare. Their work helps to support people struggling with addiction. Addictions have far-reaching effects on society, from harming friends and family of addicts to linking up with crime and poverty.

In this way, counsellors not only help addicts directly with their work but they provide benefits to all of society. The work, however, can be emotionally challenging but for those who work as counsellors, it is usually well worth it.

Where Can I Work?

Counsellors can work independently or within teams in the private sector. Others are employed by the NHS to work specifically with those who suffer from addictions. These addictions are commonly drug or alcohol ones. Others may include sexual addicts and people who have food addictions such as binge-eating disorders.

Much of the decision to work for the NHS or independently will rest on your goals and working style. You should still become accredited although you do not have to attain accreditation to work. It will, however, be helpful to show clients you abide by professional standards. You will also need insurance to cover yourself if you do not work for an employer. Salaries vary in addictions counselling but tend to start around the £20,000 mark and can easily double or more for experienced counsellors and those who are successful and work independently.

One of the benefits to working for an employer and within a team is that you will have the opportunity to receive personal evaluations. As an addictions counsellor, your work may show certain patterns of dealing with clients that aren't always healthy. Evaluations and observations from other counsellors can help you ensure your counselling skills remain strong and fresh.

Types of Counselling

While virtually any form of counselling can support a person who is dealing with an addiction, one of the common ones is cognitive-behavioural counselling. In this kind of counselling, a person's unhealthy thought patterns are linked up to behaviours. Preventative measures include changing thoughts to positive ones that can translate to positive behaviours.

Other types of counselling such as person-centred counselling focus on providing a safe place for addicts to talk about their problems. The aim is to provide unconditional acceptance, genuineness, honesty and empathy to foster a strong counsellor-client relationship that supports any changes the addict wants to make.

Challenges in Addictions Counselling

Counsellors can face some particularly difficult challenges when counselling addicts. If the addict is still using at the time of counselling, physical and emotional symptoms can be present. An addict may be angry, confused, hallucinating or any number of stressful symptoms. These can make the counselling experience more challenging.

Withdrawal symptoms that occur earlier on in the abstinence process can also make a client distressed and emotional. As a counsellor, you will need to help create a safe atmosphere that supports your client's feelings and needs.

You also may find you carry your work home with you. Some of the stories you hear will be very emotional, heart-breaking ones. There may be stories of violence and other factors that are dominant in the families of addicts. It can be difficult for you as a counsellor to put your work aside. Some counsellors find that going for counselling themselves can help. Others find coping skills to separate work from the rest of their lives. Often, it takes time and experience for a counsellor to keep work focused and separate from home life.

Choosing Addictions Counselling for a Health Career

Counselling is an important part of addictions treatment for many people. They rely on a counsellor to help them find ways to overcome their addictions and prevent them from recurring.

If you think you have the personal qualities to succeed as an addictions counsellor, then start by applying to an accredited counselling course. Talk to those working in the field and see if you can job shadow to get a better sense of what is involved.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hello, i have a BSc Psychology and MA Psychoanalysis. Does anyone know of how i can progress to become an addictions counsellor please?
stratos - 30-Jan-19 @ 9:45 AM
@Sara - Some universities do an online MSc. Kings College London does and online International Programme in Addiction Studies MSc. This might work for you.
EmmaF - 10-Jul-18 @ 11:07 AM
Hi, I'm choosing addiction counselling as my career path. I have a BSc (Hons) in counselling studies but I don't know my next step. I am looking to do further education in either an MSc or various certificates but I am finding it challenging where to choose as I currently live abroad for my husbands job so looking for an online course. Does anyone have any idea or advice? Would really appreciate your thoughts. Best Regards, Sara
Sara - 9-Jul-18 @ 1:12 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Jen
    Re: Work as a Travel Nurse
    Hello - are there any similar avenues for physiotherapists? Thanks!
    24 January 2021
  • Jacob
    Re: Work in Respiratory Therapy
    Hi to work in the field of respiratory therapy you have to have a physiotherapy degree or be able to convert to a physiotherapy…
    8 January 2021
  • JHN280419
    Re: Working in Health Economics
    I have a BSc in Public Health. Will a diploma in economics suffice to pursue this Masters qualification? Or should I pursue a…
    4 January 2021
  • Mary
    Re: Work in Respiratory Therapy
    I am a Respiratory Therapist in Philippines. How would I be able to apply for a job here in UK? People do not seems know and…
    12 December 2020
  • Judy
    Re: Unions for Health Workers
    I work for a selfish private company that are taking advantage of my lack of experience and the fact they don’t see me because I work…
    7 December 2020
  • Craig
    Re: A Career as a Surgical Technologist
    I'm a Certified Surgical Tech with 10 years experience and 1 as a service lead in Spine. I'm looking to work in either…
    30 November 2020
  • Ara
    Re: Pharmaceutical Brand Manager
    i have to attend an interview for post of Brand Manager of Pharmaceutical company after two days, Can you help me to upgrade my…
    9 November 2020
  • Sid
    Re: Working in Ocular Prosthetics
    Dear Health career, I hope you’re taking care in these difficult times. I am reaching out to find out if there’s job…
    8 November 2020
  • Webbie
    Re: Unions for Health Workers
    I work as an Activities / Lifestyle co-ordinator for a care home in Richmond. During the recent lockdown my job role has become even…
    7 November 2020
  • Hiba
    Re: A Career as a Surgical Technologist
    Hi. Im surgical technologist. And i have 4 years experience. Im looking for emigrate to uk. How i can do process?
    21 October 2020