WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — Westfield State University’s Substance Abuse Counselor Education (ACE) program aims to ensure students have the professionalism and skills necessary to help those recovering from substance use disorders.
Substance use disorders, mental health disorders and concurrent disorders are explored in the program, along with counseling skills and practices.
The term substance use disorder is commonly used to describe addictions to alcohol and drugs. Students studying substance use disorder study substances such as alcohol, nicotine, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and inhalants. These substances can be mild, moderate or severe. “Our students are prepared with an understanding of range assessment and recognition as well as any mental health issues that may arise,” said Community Education Coordinator Brandon Fredette.
Through the ACE program, students gain knowledge about levels of care and treatment modalities, become eligible for licensure to become substance abuse counselors, and can work for the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Addiction with the Department of Public Health.
Skills, knowledge and techniques that are provided to students:
- Learn how to assess and treat people with substance use disorders
- Building a therapeutic alliance with active listening skills based on best practices
- Learn how to assess and recognize mental illness and help people with concurrent disorders through the treatment planning process
- Learn counseling skills that will help them provide individual counseling and group counseling
- Learn the different levels of care and how to provide an assessment so individuals receive the appropriate level of treatment. This can range from various levels of inpatient treatment to outpatient treatment.
- Learn to work with families who have been impacted by addiction
- There is also a course to provide students with an understanding of practice and policy within the criminal justice system that explores the relationship between substance use disorders and the impact on services provided within the criminal justice system. criminal justice.
Fredette explains the importance of introducing students to a range of clinical issues associated with substance use disorders. “It has many components and implications. It has implications for the individual, their family, the health care community and the criminal justice system. It is imperative that students learn to assess these different components in order to provide the best possible treatment for the best possible outcomes,” he said, “we want individuals to recover, recover and look their best for them. themselves and their families. We want people to feel that their healthcare providers understand their illness and can provide professional quality care with compassion. This gives people starting treatment hope and encouragement.
For students to gain first-hand experience in the treatment field, ACE offers a 300-hour internship at an agency of their choice. “A lot of students get jobs with these agencies after their internship placement,” Fredette said. Westfield State also provides students with information about job opportunities through networking resources.
For students interested in the 2022/2023 ACE program, applications are currently being accepted through their website.