IC Adds Behavioral Health Major, Drug & Alcohol Counselor Program

By Benjamin Cox on September 5, 2023 at 2:41pm

Illinois College has created a new behavioral health major as well as an alcohol & drug counseling certificate program. The college says it’s the only higher learning institution within 150 miles offering the certificate program for potential students to become Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselors.

Dr. Clarissa Richardson

Program director Dr. Clarissa Richardson says the certificate program is open to individuals who may already have a degree who may want to become counselors: “The behavior health major – this is for somebody who could be an incoming freshman who wants to come to I.C. and is choosing the college because they have this behavioral health program. It could also be somebody who already has a degree and this can be completed solely online. If somebody wants to move into a behavioral health major, they may have all the necessary basic requirements, but they would have a few other classes to take to fulfill that major. The major can be done in person on campus, or it can be done fully online.” The counseling program, plus supervised clinical practicum hours, will prepare students to become a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor (CADC), a certification recognized in the state of Illinois. The program is in the process of becoming accredited by Illinois Certification Board, Inc. For those who already have a degree and who are interested in becoming certified counselors, the concentration requires just seven classes and transfer coursework may shorten the time it takes to complete the program. The program is expected to be of interest to members of the community who already hold a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in fields like psychology, sociology, public health, social work or health sciences.

Richardson says that students will get to utilize the newly refurbished Crispin Hall: “Most all of the classes for the behavioral health major – most of the psychology and sociology classes – are in the newly renovated Crispin. [It has] awesome classrooms with a lot of state of the art equipment that students will get to use.”

Richardson says the behavioral health major will be a blend between the existing psychology and sociology department for those wishing to move on to get a masters or doctorate in behavioral health, while for the certificate program it will give upcoming counselors proven insight and clinical experience to help people find their way out of addiction.

Both programs are expected to fill the growing need for behavioral health professionals, especially in rural areas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to grow to 22% over the next decade, with rural populations’ needs to be higher. Richardson says having access to these type of professionals in a rural setting is extremely vital for mental health continuum of care.