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Frequently asked Questions and Responses (FAQs)

Welcome to the FAQs section for the Substance Abuse Practitioner certification program. This area is provided to you as a source of information that may be more clarified, related to questions you may have in regards to our certification program. Information regarding recertification, as well as information about our online continuing education courses, is also provided. We highly recommend that you first thoroughly review all of the information on our website, under the main page for the Substance Abuse Certification. Access here .

If after reviewing all of the provided information and this FAQs section, any other questions may be addressed by completing our request for information form online (access info form). Thank you for your interest in our programs.

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SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND ADDICTIONS COUNSELING BLOG: Please visit our Substance Abuse Counseling interactive web blog. Our blog contains articles, news, events and information related the Substance Abuse Counseling field.

What is Certification?

Response: certification is a voluntary process, which is provided by a well organized organization, that through its qualified advisory boards, develops comprehensive and quality standards for the practice of a type of specialty. The developed standards address high quality requirements for the practice of a certain specialty. The defined standards speak to educational and/or practice requirements, any required prerequisites, and the need to adhere to a defined code of ethics for the practice specialty. Certification is a voluntary process. It is different than any type of licensing. Certification is one means by which professionals may be publicly recognized as achieving a high level of education, knowledge base and practice skills for a certain healthcare related specialty. Certification also assists employer organizations and clients in their assessment of appropriate qualifications for candidates seeking positions in organizations and/or involved in private practices. It is commonly held, today, that certification by a very well organized professional organization, is fast becoming a "gold standard" for specialty practices. Certification testifies and provides a verification of defined educational requirements, adherence to a solid code of ethics, and in many instances prerequisites of practice experience for the practice as a nurse-patient educator and related services.

What are the criteria/standards I will need to meet to achieve certification?

Response: The educational criteria and standards are well and clearly defined within our website. Please access our main page to preview these requirements. Access here.

May I apply for and be conferred certification if I have been practicing as a substance abuse practitioner in a clinical setting or private practice with- out the need to meet the educational requirements?

Response: No. The Board that oversees the development and approval of defined criteria and standards for certification will not consider only practice experience as meeting requirements in full. This decision was made as those who are already in substance abuse counseling and care practices have varied and different experiences related to this practice specialty and there is no insured uniformity that all who have practiced in substance abuse care have the same knowledge base and skills attainment. The evaluation of one's past practice experiences in health care practices is highly variable and subjective. As such, the Board has developed objective criteria/standards for the conferral of certification. For these reasons, practice experience without the attainment of education will not be considered as fulfilling criteria and standards for our certification.

Over the years, I have completed many seminars and continuing education courses related to substance abuse. Will these apply toward the education requirements for certification?

Response: No, under ordinary circumstances. One would have to verify completion of college level courses or continuing education courses directly related to substance abuse care and counseling. The courses would have to be "comparable" to our defined continuing education courses in our curriculum. The content of the courses must be comparable, as well as the hours of continuing education. Those who believe they may have already obtained comparable education and study in this specialty may submit a proposal to us, including all verifications of course completions, course descriptions, school or organization attended, etc. Each such submission will be evaluated on an individual basis.

What is the major practice focus of a certified substance abuse practitioner?

Response: a certified substance abuse practitioner, as defined by the American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc, is a licensed health care professional or a professional who assists with such care and who has achieved a high level of education, knowledge and skills in the following areas; 1) substance abuse/addictions counseling and care, theories and models of practice, 2, is currently licensed as a health care professional, and 3) has attained education beyond preparatory licensing for the practice of substance abuse counseling and care. There is an emphasis placed on a holistic approach to care delivery from a "mind-body-spirit" framework. Emphasis is also on consulting, research, best practices, evidence-based practices, as well as family systems and dynamics. Practitioners practice at a higher level of comprehensive counsel and care and employe a collaborative practice model to provide a high quality of care to clients. Patient and family teaching is an important component of this practice. Practitioners also focus on the development of prevention programs throughout the community of health care resources.

The Substance Abuse Practitioner is an educator, advocate, clinical practitioner, and may also be involved in research related to patient teaching and disease prevention, as well as wellness promotion. As a practitioner they may also be involved in the direct delivery of care modalities and also be engaged in patient education. The certified substance abuse practitioner is also dedicated to ongoing learning and practice experiences in order to provide a wide array of therapeutic client services.

The Substance Abuse Practitioner brings past learning, their primary health care practice experiences as well as new learning and skills to provide society with a professional who truly assists their clients in personal and overall transformations.

At this time, we provide a full continuing education program to meet the education standards for this certification specialty. Our current program is a curriculum of continuing education courses designed specifically to meet the above practice parameters for this specialty practice.. Our continuing education curriculum provides for 215 contact hours specific to establishing the knowledge and expert skills to be conferred certification status.

Where do certified substance abuse practitioners practice?

Response: Certified Substance Abuse Practitioners practice their specialty in virtually any health care setting/delivery model in which care is provided. They are especially seen practicing in wellness centers, holistic health care centers, in acute care where there is a supportive philosophy of wellness promotion and disease prevention and disease management. They may be employed in private practice, as dictated by their professional licensing laws in the states or countries they practice in. Many practice in community outreach centers, social service agencies, private rehabilitation centers, churches, schools and many other areas of the health care continuum. They most often work in collaborative practice models with other health care professionals, and many times clergy and crisis counselors. They are practicing within many areas of the overall health care continuum. They may also seen practicing as case managers of substance abuse cases. They are an important part of a community services and outreach program.


Response: There is a two-phase process. In order to provide clear and sufficient information on the process we have developed a separate page that defines the process. You may access this information on the certification process at this link: click here.

How can I make application?

Response: Making application is an easy process. We provide on this website a link to a printable application. Those wishing to make application may access this link, print out the application form, completed it, and submit it to our office for review. You may access online applications at this link. Please note that incomplete applications will not be reviewed. All applications that are submitted must be complete and include all required documents and verifications as specified for review and consideration of certification conferral. Before making any application, you must meet the defined pre-requisite to enter the program and have successfully completed the full continuing education curriculum, or a curriculum from a program that AIHCP, Inc. has officially approved.

Once I have achieved certification, must I ever be re certified?

Response: Yes. A conferred certification for this specialty certification has a period of 4 years. At the end of the four-year period the certification will expire. The American Institute of Health Care Professionals provides a full program for recertification. Detailed information on the criteria to be recertified, after the four-year initial certification period, is provided on our website. Access here.

Our organization is sponsoring a one-day seminar on a topic related to substance abuse. Does the American institute of health care professionals provide for program approvals for CEU credits?

Response: Yes. We do offer a full program for the approval of education courses, seminars, and other related learning activities related to topics of substance abuse counseling and care. If an application for approval is approved, then the sponsoring organization may declare on its CE certificates that the program has been up reviewed and approved by the American Institute of Health Care Professionals. More information is available on our website, access here.

I am currently certified by the American institute of health care professionals as a certified substance abuse practitioner. I know I am required to achieve additional education in order to qualify for recertification in the future. Do you offer any continuing education courses that I may take to meet my recertification requirements?

Response: We will soon be offering continuing education courses related to topics of substance abuse practice which are approved for the required continuing education hours for recertification.

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Updated: February 2012