Feb 23, 2024  
2008-2010 Catalog 
2008-2010 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Mental Health Assistant-Alcohol Counseling, A.S.

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Degree: Associate in Science
HEGIS Code: 5216
Curriculum Code: 0541
Campus Location: City—Evening Program
Health Sciences Division

Pre-Admission Recommendations: HS or GED Diploma
Career Opportunities/Further Education: Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse Centers

Program Description

Alcohol abuse and the abuse of other drugs is increasing in this nation. More demographic groups, including women, the elderly, adolescents and persons with other concurrent mental health disorders are in need of counseling and treatment to address these significant health issues. Increasing demands are being placed on alcoholism/substance counselors to work with more dysfunctional clients, under an increasing health care industry faced with financial constraints. This program is designed to prepare students for careers as alcoholism/substance abuse counselors, as well as provide additional training for those individuals already employed in the field. This course of study can be on a part-time evening or full-time day and evening sequence.

While in this program, the student will learn diagnostic, evaluation, individual, group, intervention and family counseling techniques. Students will serve internships with credentialed and experienced professionals at various public and private inpatient and outpatient facilities in Western New York. The program will provide the student with techniques and strategies for determining the best available treatment for the chemical abuser, their family and others affected by this destructive behaviors associated with alcohol/substance abuse. The alcoholism/substance abuse program will fulfill all the education/training clock hour requirements for the New York State OASAS credential for alcoholism/substance abuse counselor (CASAC). Completion of the two internship courses as part of the curriculum would be partial fulfillment toward the one year allowance for non-paid experience toward credentialing.

Graduates of the program are qualified for entry-level substance abuse counseling positions and related duties as prevention/education specialists in schools, employee assistance counselors in industry or business and private facilities promoting substance abuse awareness programs and/or direct service provision.

Graduates of the program will have been introduced to total quality management and continuous quality improvement concepts, principles and practices as they are applied to addictions treatment, inpatient and outpatient care and case management protocols.

Department Notes

  • Students must purchase malpractice insurance for clinical internship
  • OASAS credentialing requirements for CASAC requires 350 education/training clock hours in four categories of course work, including: (1) Knowledge of alcoholism and substance abuse (85 hours minimum): (2) Alcoholism and substance abuse counseling (150 hours minimum) (3) Assessment, clinical evaluation, treatment planning, case management and patient/community education (70 hours minimum) and (4) Professional and ethical responsibilities in documentation (45 hours minimum)

In the area of work experience, applicants will be required to document three years of appropriate full-time work experience in an approved work setting. Such experience may include up to one year of voluntary (non-paid) work experience or clinical internship. Applicants with bachelor’s or master’s degree in the human service field from an accredited college or institute may substitute their degree for one year of work experience (for bachelors) or two years of work experience (for master’s degree).

Academic courses in this degree will fulfill all CASAC education/training clock hour requirements, and partial fulfillment toward the one-year allowance for non-paid experience toward credentialing.

Program Competencies

Upon graduation with an Associate in Science degree in Mental Health Assistant—Alcohol Counseling, the graduate will be able to:

  • Understand the disease concept of chemical dependency
  • Apply this understanding to working with alcoholics, addicted individuals, families and significant others
  • Understand the chemical dependency treatment systems available, referral practices and linkages
  • Understand secondary psychopathology as it relates to chemical abuse/dependence, addiction and recovery
  • Understand the pharmacology of drugs, drug interactions and resulting addictive patterns
  • Develop and apply basic human relations counseling skills
  • Apply standardized diagnostic, assessment and treatment planning skills and techniques
  • Perform basic individual and group counseling skills
  • Write and implement effective recovery treatment plans
  • Write effective and appropriate clinical documentation
  • Perform clinical interventions
  • Understand the roles and identity of being a professional alcoholism/substance abuse counselor
  • Understand and perform according to guidelines of confidentiality and professional ethical behavior
  • Knowledge of how to find and use addictions literature for clinical practice
  • Knowledge of 12-Step and other self-help support groups and activities


Total Degree Credits: 60.0

First Year, Fall Semester

Second Year, Fall Semester

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Humanities Elective Credit Hours: 3
  • Natural Science Elective Credit Hours: 3
  • Liberal Arts Elective Credit Hours: 3
  • Open Elective Credit Hours: 3

Second Year, Spring Semester

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Humanities Elective Credit Hours: 3
  • Social Science Elective Credit Hours: 3
  • Other Science or Math Elective Credit Hours: 3

Summer Semester*


* Most students overlap at least one summer term to complete the required alcoholism course requirements before starting their two semesters of clinical internship/fieldwork. Students may substitute SA 110 for AC 214 and SA 112 for AC 211.

  • Humanities elective: art, music, drama, language, philosophy or public speaking
  • Science elective: human biology, nutrition for living, environmental science
  • Liberal arts elective: history, economics, business
  • Math elective: survey of math, college math, introduction to statistics
  • Social science elective: human interaction, human services, other sociology courses

NOTE: This is a recommended sequence. Students are strongly encouraged to seek academic advisement prior to course registration.

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