UIndy offers new grad programs in addictions counseling to help nation’s fight against addiction

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The University of Indianapolis is taking steps to help the nation’s fight against addiction.

The university is adding two new graduate programs in Addictions Counseling to curb the nationwide drug epidemic.

“What you’ve seen simultaneously is a shortage in behavioral health providers and a rise in addiction,” said Anita Thomas, Dean of the College of Applied Behavior Sciences at the University of Indianapolis.

Students will have two different program options if they’d like to pursue a career that helps people struggling with addictions; a Master of Arts in Addictions Counseling or an Interprofessional Certificate in Addictions.

“We’ve been following workforce trends and reports that show there’s a lack of individuals who are licensed as addiction counselors,” said Thomas. “The program is really designed to be able to meet the workforce needs for people and treatment specifically.”

Thomas said the Master of Arts in Addictions Counseling is designed to be a holistic behavioral program that blends psychology, social work and counseling into a full curriculum.  She said the Interprofessional Certificate in Addictions provides comprehensive training in addictions including both nursing and therapy.

Rachel Halleck is the senior director of behavioral health services for Volunteers of America and a graduate of the University of Indianapolis. She said the addiction crisis has had a detrimental effect on the workforce, family units and the entire community.

“The addiction crisis right now in Indiana is of monumental proportions,” said Halleck. “At any given hospital in Indiana, between 15 to 25 percent are being born testing positive for opiates.”

Halleck said there is an incredible shortage for addictions counselors.

“We have been growing exponentially in the past year at Volunteers of America and looking for masters level individuals who are licensed, trained and have expertise in the area of addiction. We have some positions that are vacant for weeks at a time and have very few applicants. Because of that shortage, it has hindered our ability to be able to expand our programming in a way to be able to meet that need.”

The Master of Arts in Addictions Counseling at the University of Indianapolis is aimed at helping prepare students who are interested in helping clients dealing with substance abuse.

“Our clinic rooms are equipped for training,” said Thomas. “We have video equipment that allows for recording and students can transcribe. That allows us to do live supervision, but also to go through tapes and insert feedback to the students. It’s a much more live, real action, interactive approach to training.”

Thomas said no specific prerequisites are needed to pursue the Master of Arts in Addictions Counseling and graduates become eligible for an addictions counselor license.

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