Certification Requirements

Substance Use Disorder Professional

Education

Traditional training education requirements:

Applicants must have an associate degree in human services or related field, or successful completion of 90 quarter or 60 semester college credits in courses from an approved school - see WAC 246-811-010(9).

At least 45 quarter or 30 semester credits must be in courses relating to the substance use disorder profession and must include the topics listed in WAC 246-811-030. Specific topics include:

  • Understanding addiction;
  • Pharmacological actions of alcohol and other drugs;
  • Substance abuse and addiction treatment methods;
  • Understanding addiction placement, continuing care, and discharge criteria, including American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria;
  • Cultural diversity, including people with disabilities, and its implication for treatment;
  • Substance use clinical evaluation;
  • HIV/AIDS brief risk intervention for people with substance use disorder;
  • Substance use disorder treatment planning;
  • Referral and use of community resources;
  • Service coordination;
  • Individual counseling;
  • Group counseling;
  • Substance use disorder counseling for families, couples and significant others;
  • Client, family and community education;
  • Developmental psychology;
  • Psychopathology/abnormal psychology;
  • Documentation, to include screening, intake, assessment, treatment plan, clinical reports, clinical progress notes, discharge summaries and other client-related data;
  • Substance use disorder confidentiality;
  • Professional and ethical responsibilities;
  • Relapse prevention;
  • Adolescent substance use disorder assessment and treatment;
  • Substance use disorder case management; and
  • Substance use disorder rules and regulations.

Official transcript means the transcript from an approved college or school, in an envelope readily identified as having been sealed by the school. The transcript must include the degree and date posted. Transcripts not in English must have an official translation and educational evaluation.

Applicants must complete the course topic identification form. Official transcripts must verify course topics. If course topics do not clearly identify courses, applicants will be asked for course syllabi.

Alternative training education requirements

The alternative training education requirements is for applicants with a license in good standing in one of the following credentials, as outlined in WAC 246-811-076:

  • Psychologist under RCW 18.83.
  • Marriage and family therapists, mental health counselor, advanced social worker, or independent clinical social worker under RCW 18.225.
  • Osteopathic physician under chapter 18.57 RCW.
  • Osteopathic physician assistant under chapter 18.57A RCW;
  • Physician under chapter 18.71 RCW; or
  • Physician assistant under chapter 18.71A RCW.

Requirements include 15 quarter or 10 semester college credits from an approved school in the courses specific to alcohol- and drug-addicted people for each of the following topics:

  • Survey of addiction;
  • Treatment of addiction;
  • Pharmacology;
  • Physiology of addiction;
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria;
  • Individual, group, family addiction counseling; and
  • Substance use disorder law and ethics.

Applicants must complete course topic identification forms. Official transcripts must verify course topics. If course topics don't clearly identify the course, applicants will be asked for course syllabi.

National certification acceptable for alternative training

Experience

The required number of supervision hours is based on the applicant's level of formal education. This includes:

  • Two thousand five hundred hours of substance use disorder (SUD) counseling for applicants with an associate degree.
  • Two thousand hours of SUD counseling for applicants with a baccalaureate degree.
  • Fifteen hundred hours of SUD counseling for applicants with a master's or doctoral degree.
  • One thousand hours of SUD counseling for people who are licensed in one of the approved professions for the alternative track in WAC 246-811-076.

Eight hundred and fifty hours of experience including:

  • Two hundred hours of clinical evaluation
  • One hundred of the 200 hours must be face-to-face patient contact.
  • Six hundred hours of face-to-face counseling to include:
    • Individual counseling
    • Group counseling
    • Counseling families, couples and significant others
    • Fifty hours of discussion of professional and ethical responsibilities.

The remaining experience hours must be divided among WAC 246-811-047(2)(d) through (i) as determined by the supervisor.

All of the experience must be under an approved supervisor as defined by WAC 246-811-049.

The first 50 hours of any face-to-face patient contact must be under direct observation of an approved supervisor or a substance use disorder professional.

Accumulation of the experience hours is not required to be consecutive.

Supervised experience is the practice as referred to in RCW 18.205.090(1)(c) and is the experience received under an approved supervisor. A practicum or internship taken while acquiring the degree or semester/quarter hours is applicable.

The department will accept only experience that has been completed within seven years of the application date.

If you have been licensed in good standing and without a disqualifying criminal history in another state for over five years the department doesn't require you to obtain proof of supervision hours. If you have been licensed for less than five years or if you have disciplinary or criminal history then you would be required to have your previous supervisor(s) sign our forms to verify your supervised experience. If you are a substance use disorder professional trainee you must submit your supervised hours to obtain full licensure.

National certification acceptable for alternative training

Applicants with one of the credentials listed in WAC 246-811-076 may meet the education and supervised experience requirements if the applicant also possesses one or more of the qualifying national certifications listed in WAC 246-811-078 (2). The national certification must be active and in good standing, with a verification form completed by the approved supervisor. See Approved Supervisor Requirements - WAC 246-811-049. Applicants' supervisors must also make a statement as to their qualifications, using a form provided by the department.

State License Verification

Applicants must list all states where they do or did hold credentials. This list must also include when the applicant has applied for a credential, even if a credential was not granted. The jurisdiction where the applicant is or was credentialed must complete and submit the verification form (PDF). The jurisdiction must send the completed form directly to the department.

Licensure Reciprocity Program/Probationary Licensure

The reciprocity program, for behavioral health professions, established by Washington state as of July 1, 2020 (Senate Bill 5054) uses substantial equivalency to other states' substance use disorder professional licenses based on their scope of practice. If the state where you currently have a license, or have held a license in the past 12 months, is considered by the department to be substantially equivalent on a scope basis, you may apply for a temporary probationary license to work as a Washington state substance use disorder professional (SUDP) through this reciprocity program. The applicant must not have a disciplinary history or disqualifying criminal history to apply for a probationary license. The department maintains a list of approved states, where applicants from are eligible to apply for a probationary license under the reciprocity program. For SUDPs, the list can be found below:

The probationary license is a temporary license that can be issued to an individual who is licensed in another state and applies for Washington's reciprocity program. The probationary license is issued for one year and can be renewed one time for another year, and requires that the license holder practice in a behavioral health agency (no independent practice is permitted). The purpose of the probationary license is to see if there are differences in education, experience, or examination between the other state's license requirements and Washington's requirements, and allows applicants to practice while working to make up those differences. Applicants will need to meet the full licensure requirements for a substance use disorder professional in Washington.

Please note that the reciprocity program is a new option which does not eliminate other options for out of state applicants, including those options where an applicant can easily qualify for full licensure based on substantial equivalency of licensure standards (if the state is substantially equivalent on that basis).

For some out of state applicants, a trainee licensure path working toward full licensure may be the best option. Ultimately, each applicant makes the decision which pathway represents the best fit for their situation.

Additionally, anyone who is working under a probationary license can only practice as a substance use disorder professional in a licensed or certified service provider as defined in RCW 71.24.025.

Exam

The National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) level one or higher. Also the Intentional Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC), the Alcohol Drug Counselor (ADC), or the Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor (AADC) exam is accepted for certification. Note the ICRC exam is not available in Washington state, however it is eligible for individuals licensed in other states where this exam may be required.

Applicants must meet all certification requirements before being approved to sit for the examination. Approval from the Department of Health is only for the NAADAC examination, the ICRC exam is not available to take in Washington state. Verification must be sent directly from NAADAC or ICRC, or from the state in which applicants passed the exam. If the exam was administered as part of an applicant's education, the school must verify the scores.

Personal Data Questions

Each applicant must answer the personal data questions. If there is a positive answer to the professional liability claims history question, the applicant must send an explanation of the nature of the case, data and summary of care given, copies of the original complaint, and the settlement or final disposition. If the case is pending, applicant must indicate status.

Process for Approving/Denying Applications

We finish final review for approval after a credentialing specialist verifies that the application is fully complete, and that it complies with requirements in chapter 18.205 RCW and chapter 246-811 WAC. We complete background checks and make sure applicants have submitted required fees. Credentialing supervisors and lead workers have the authority to approve routine applications. The disciplining authority may conduct further review if the credentialing supervisor can't verify the applicant meets all requirements. We'll formally notify applicants of a denial. Those applicants may request a hearing to appeal the decision.

Additional Information/Documents Required
  • If applicants have already taken the NAADAC or ICRC examination, verification of scores needs to come directly from the state where the applicant took and passed the examination.
  • If an applicant is certified with NAADAC or ICRC the applicant is considered to have met:

If an applicant has NAADAC or ICRC certification, the supervision and verification forms are not required.

Transcripts are needed to verify the additional 45 or 30 semester credits in courses covering the subject content described in WAC 246-811-030(2).

NAADAC or ICRC must send verification of your certification to the department.

Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements

Substance use disorder professionals must renew their certification every year on or before their birthday. They are required to submit the appropriate fee and renewal card. Substance use disorder professionals must complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years. An enhancement plan is required. See the section on continuing competency for more information about the enhancement plan. Beginning with the first full CE period after January 1, 2014, substance use disorder professionals must complete three hours of training in suicide assessment, including screening and referral. The training must be repeated once every six years.

Substance Use Disorder Professional Trainee

Education

Applicants must declare they are in enrolled in an approved school and are gaining the experience required to receive a substance use disorder professional certification. A signed declaration must be included on the application form.

State License Verification

Applicants must list all states where they do or did hold credentials. This list must also include when the applicant has applied for a credential, even if a credential was not granted. The jurisdiction where the applicant is or was credentialed must complete and submit the verification form (PDF). The jurisdiction must send the completed form directly to the department.

Personal Data Questions

Each applicant must answer the personal data questions. If there is a positive answer to the professional liability claims history question, the applicant must send an explanation of the nature of the case, data and summary of care given, copies of the original complaint, and the settlement or final disposition. If the case is pending, applicant must indicate status.

Process for Approving/Denying Applications

Credentialing staff members review the application and supporting documents to make an initial determination on eligibility. The recommendation is based upon the requirements outlined in RCW 18.205 and WAC 246-811. Credentialing supervisors approve applications that don't have positive answers to personal data questions, have questionable verifying documents or are otherwise "red flag" applications. "Red flag" applications are forwarded to the exception application process for determination by the appropriate disciplinary authority. An applicant will be formally notified of a denial and has the opportunity for a hearing to appeal the decision.

Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements

Substance use disorder professional trainees must renew their certification every year on the date of issuance. The trainee credential may be renewed only four times. Substance use disorder professional trainees must submit a signed declaration with their annual renewal that states they're enrolled in an approved education program, or have completed the educational requirements and are obtaining the experience requirements for a substance use disorder professional credential.

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