Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Chemical Dependency Counseling


Program Description

The two-year Chemical Dependency Counseling Program is designed to prepare students for employment as chemical dependency counselors both on and off the Flathead Indian Reservation.  The CDAR (Chemical Dependency/Addictions Recovery) courses assist students in developing competencies in the professional, legal, ethical, and cultural aspects of chemical dependency counseling, including clinical evaluation, treatment planning, documentation, referral, service coordination, counseling, client and community education, and professional ethical responsibility. The courses meet all the academic requirements for the State of Montana Licensed Addiction Counselor certification and align with the Addiction Counseling Competencies that are delineated in the Technical Assistance Publication Series #21.  (DPHHS publication No. (SMA) 06-4171. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2006.)


AA in CDC Course Requirements

Please refer to the AA in CDC course requirements list in the SKC catalog.


Career Outlook

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors help people who have problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, and eating disorders. They counsel individuals to help them to identify behaviors and problems related to their addiction. Counseling can be done on an individual basis, but is frequently done in a group setting and can include crisis counseling, daily or weekly counseling, or drop-in counseling supports. Counselors are trained to assist in developing personalized recovery programs that help to establish healthy behaviors and provide coping strategies. Often, these counselors also will work with family members who are affected by the addictions of their loved ones. Some counselors conduct programs and community outreach aimed at preventing addiction and educating the public. Counselors must be able to recognize how addiction affects the entire person and those around him or her.


People interested in counseling should have a strong desire to help others and should be able to inspire respect, trust, and confidence. They should be able to work independently or as part of a team. Counselors must follow the code of ethics associated with their respective certifications and licenses. Counselors must possess high physical and emotional energy to handle the array of problems that they address.


Employment opportunities in the chemical dependency field are expanding rapidly, both locally and nationally. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow by 21 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.


Median annual wages of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in May 2008 were $37,030. The middle 50 percent earned between $29,410 and $47,290. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $59,460.

(Information retrieved from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website,, on February 13, 2012)


The education and training requirements for Chemical Dependency Counselors vary by State. The State of Montana licensing requirements are discussed in the following section.


Options After Graduation

The A.A. in Chemical Dependency Counseling graduates have two options: They can pursue the State of Montana Licensed Addiction Counselor certification or continue on in the B.S.W. Program.


State of Montana Addiction Counselor Licensing Program

The A.A. in Chemical Dependency Counseling graduates will have completed all the academic requirements for the State of Montana Licensed Addiction Counselor certification as well as for beginning the mandatory 2000-hour pre-licensure supervised clinical internship. Students who do not continue on to the B.S.W. Program will complete their internship independently without the support and supervision of SKC faculty.  For more information about the licensing process and requirements please visit the Montana Department of Labor and Industry website at


Continuing on to the B.S.W. Program

The A.A. in Chemical Dependency Counseling graduates who desire to further advance their education can also seamlessly transition into the SKC B.S.W. Program. The State of Montana LAC Program requires that individuals must show a certificate of completion (A.A. or higher) before they can begin their internship.  Therefore, the graduates can complete and apply 450 internship hours towards their LAC field experience requirements under the support and supervision of SKC faculty while working on obtaining the B.S.W. degree. Please refer to the Social Work Program section in the SKC catalog for detailed information about the B.S.W. degree and graduation requirements.



AA in CDC Program Objectives

  1. Prepare competent and skillful addiction counselors who possess comprehensive knowledge of the nature of substance abuse, behavior change and recovery models, assessment and intervention methods, treatment modalities, and strategies for prevention of substance abuse. 

  2. Equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the minimum State of Montana requirements for Licensed Addiction Counseling certification and provide current practitioners with the expertise and professional development necessary to advance in their careers.

  3. Prepare community leaders committed to identifying the root causes of health disparities and addressing the current substance abuse crisis within Native American communities.  

  4. Prepare graduates for ethical and culturally competent chemical dependency counseling practice with diverse populations of all sizes with a special focus on the integration of indigenous knowledge and the preservation of the cultural integrity of Native American communities.

  5. Foster an inquiry-based learning environment that encourages students to investigate and incorporate effective evidence-based chemical dependency counseling practices rooted in indigenous knowledge.

  6. Cultivate globally aware lifelong learners who engage in scientific inquiry; critically assess, synthesize, integrate, and communicate relevant information; and employ creativity and curiosity in both research and practice.


Learning Outcomes

Upon the completion of the A.A. in Chemical Dependency Counseling degree, the graduates are expected to:

1.     Demonstrate basic knowledge about substance abuse disorders.

2.     Demonstrate an understanding of treatment models in behavior change and recovery.

3.     Demonstrate the ability to apply intervention and recovery knowledge to practice.

4.     Demonstrate professional readiness and an understanding of issues related to self-awareness, diversity,     ethics, and continuing education.