Competence and Current Counselor

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The 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor are used as standards for counselor competency in the United States. These 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor were developed by examining the criteria by educators and clinical professionals as to which competencies, tasks, and knowledge a skilled substance abuse counselor should have.

The 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor is one of two (the other being TAP 21) of the most well-known and widely-accepted standards.  Most substance abuse counselor examinations and licensure boards throughout the United States adhere to the 12 core functions of substance abuse counselors.  Every substance abuse counselor should familiarize him or herself with these 12 core functions, as they will be required to take classes on the functions and be competent in each of them.

The 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor are as follows:

• Screening

• Intake

• Orientation

• Assessment

• Treatment Planning

• Counseling

• Case Management

• Crisis intervention

• Client Education

• Referral

• Reports and record keeping

• Consultation with other professionals.

The 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor were designed to hold counselors accountable.  The first four of the 12 core functions are used to determine if a client is appropriate for a particular program, assessing their needs, and admitting them to the program.

After a client has been admitted, the fifth, sixth, and seventh of the 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor come into play.  These functions are used daily during a client’s stay in a program and are used to progress the client through treatment. Client education (the ninth of the 12 core functions) is also used for this purpose.  Crisis intervention is used for things such as suicide attempts, arrest during treatment, a major life-changing event such as divorce or death in the family, or a relapse.

Referrals...
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