Substance Abuse Counseling

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Counselor Education

The Department of Counselor Education in Fairfield's School of Education and Human Development offers two Advanced Training Certificates:

Substance Abuse Counseling

This 15-credit, 5-course program is based on competencies established by the Connecticut Certification Board for Drug and Alcohol Counseling. Completion of these courses is required in order to sit for the certification exam that leads to licensing as a licensed or certified alcohol/drug use counselor. NOTE: Required supervised training is not provided through this program.

These courses can also be used to complete annual professional development requirements for many professionals, including licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers, psychologists and addiction counselors.

The 5 required courses are:

  • COUN 5465 Introduction to Substance Abuse & Addictions: Candidates explore basic information about the history and current use and abuse of various drugs and alcohol. Topics include addiction, 12-step programs, physiological effects, FAS, COAs, and family systems, as well as culturally relevant prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies for individuals and families. Cross-referenced as MFTH 5465. Three credits. 
  • COUN 6566 Substance Abuse and the Family: This course brings together substance abuse studies and family systems approaches. Students are presented with a knowledge base of skills and methods for assessing and treating family systems. The course identifies the addictive and intergenerational patterns within families. Students are encouraged to reflect upon the theoretical frameworks to understand and create interventions for alcoholic and substance-abusing family systems. Relational clinical models including developmental, systemic, solution-focused, and narrative approaches are reviewed and evaluated. The course examines the history and methods of treatment models. Issues of social justice are emphasized in a review of socio-cultural and social policy that influence family behaviors and treatment. Cross-referenced as MFTH 6566. (Prerequisites: COUN 5465 or a basic understanding of the addictions field.) Three credits.
  • COUN 6555 Substance Abuse Counseling: Skills & Strategies: This course focuses on learning, practice and developing counseling skills and strategies as it relates to substance abuse counseling. An overview of assessment, treatment planning, relapse prevention and recovery will be explored. The course addresses theories that are fundamental to addiction counseling with emphasis on the relationship between theory and the practice of effective skills. Candidates will reflect on their roles as counselors and define the qualities, knowledge and essential skills to becoming a competent, ethical, culturally aware counselor in training specific to the treatment of substance abuse. (Prerequisite: COUN 5465) Three credits.
  • COUN 6455 Group Work: Theory & Practice: This course focuses on the broad methodology of group work and theories and tasks in interpersonal and multicultural contexts. Candidates observe the nature of their interactions with others and enhance their knowledge about the nature of groups and the current theories and models. Understanding of group work with substance abusers will be explored. Three credits.
  • COUN 6557 Co-Occurring Disorders in Substance Abuse & Addictions Counseling: This course will introduce students to major concepts in the treatment of co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Students will develop an awareness of the unique challenges that face clients who are struggling with multiple diagnoses. Students will practice conducting assessments, recovery plans, counseling skills and continuum of care issues relevant to the recovery process for this special population. Combines didactic and experiential learning opportunities. (Prerequisite: COUN 5465) Three credits.

Program Advisor

Dilani Perera, PhD

Dilani Perera, PhD, is the department chair and a full professor of the Counselor Education Department at Fairfield University. She has been a counselor educator for 14 years. Previous to joining higher education, she worked full-time as a licensed professional counselor and a licensed substance abuse counselor for 10 years in a variety of settings including a minimum-security prison, a hospital, an agency, and a private practice. Dr. Perera has approximately 40 publications which spans the areas of addiction, assessment, multicultural issues, and training of professional counselors and counselor educators. Dr. Perera is a member of many national professional counseling organizations including the International Association for Addiction and Offender Counselor (IAAOC), and NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals. Currently she serves as the assistant editor for the Journal of Addiction and Offender Counseling (JAOC).

Dr. Perera received her doctoral degree in Counselor Education from The University of Toledo, a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from Bowling Green State University, and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Eastern Connecticut State University.

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