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Alaska Substance Abuse Counselor Certification Guide

Welcome to the Alaska Substance Abuse Counselor Certification Guide

What is the ACBHC?

The Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification (ACBHC) is an organization in Alaska responsible for certifying professionals in the behavioral health field, including substance abuse counselors. Their role typically involves setting standards for education, experience, and ethical conduct that must be met for individuals to receive certification to practice as professionals in their respective fields.

The ACBHC ensures that substance abuse counselors and other behavioral health professionals meet specific qualifications, including completing necessary coursework, gaining relevant supervised experience, and passing certification examinations. This certification is crucial as it helps maintain professional standards in the field and ensures that qualified professionals treat individuals receiving counseling services.

The commission might also be involved in ongoing professional development by requiring certified individuals to complete continuing education units (CEUs) to renew their certifications periodically. Additionally, they may handle reciprocity-related processes, allowing counselors certified in other states to obtain certification in Alaska under certain conditions.

Welcome Video: Watch Now

Whether you are just beginning your journey in substance abuse counseling or looking to advance your career, this guide provides all the information you need to navigate the certification process in Alaska. Our goal is to support you every step of the way. Explore the sections below, ask questions, and connect with others on the same path.

The Certification Process

Initial Certification: To become a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) in Alaska, you need to meet specific educational and experiential requirements. Infographic | Download Guide | Certification Timeline
Application Process: Submit your application to the Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification (ACBHC). Ensure you include all required documents and fees. ACBHC Website

Educational Requirements

Education: Minimum bachelor’s degree in a related field (e.g., psychology, sociology, social work).
Coursework: Complete substance abuse counseling, ethics, and clinical practice coursework. Education Requirements
Interactive Quiz: Take our quiz to see if you are ready for the certification exam. Start Quiz

Experience Requirements

Supervised Hours: Accumulate a minimum number of supervised clinical experience hours as ACBHC requires. Supervised Hours Requirements
Internship: Participate in an approved internship program.


Certification Exam: Pass the CSAC exam administered by the IC&RC. For more information about the IC&RC Exam Information, click here.

Have questions? Join our live Q&A sessions every first Wednesday of the month!

Upgrading Your Certification

Advanced Certification: To upgrade to a Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS), you need additional education, supervised experience, and specialized training. Infographic | Download Guide | Certification Timeline
Application Process: Submit your application for the upgrade along with proof of additional qualifications. CCS Upgrade Information

Educational Requirements

Advanced Degree: Typically requires a master’s degree in a related field.
Specialized Coursework: Complete additional coursework in advanced counseling techniques, clinical supervision, and co-occurring disorders. Advanced Coursework

Experience Requirements

Complete the additional supervised hours as specified by ACBHC.


Advanced Certification Exam: Pass the advanced certification exam as required. CCS Exam Information

Need guidance? Connect with our experts during our monthly upgrade workshops.

Certification Exchange and Reciprocity

Reciprocity Process

Moving to Alaska: If you are certified in another state and moving to Alaska, you may apply for reciprocity. Interactive Map
Requirements: Provide proof of your current certification, educational background, supervised experience, and other documentation required by ACBHC. Reciprocity Application

Application Process

Submit Application: Complete the reciprocity application form and submit it to ACBHC with the required documentation.
Review and Approval: Your application will be reviewed, and if you meet the requirements, you will be granted certification in Alaska.

Join our Reciprocity Forum to connect with others who have successfully transferred their certification to Alaska!

Certification Renewal

Continuing Education Units (CEUs): To renew your certification, you must complete a specified number of CEUs. CEU Courses
Documentation: Maintain records of all completed CEUs and submit them with your renewal application.

Steps to Renew

  1. Complete CEUs: Ensure you have completed the required CEUs.
  2. Submit Renewal Application: Fill out the renewal application form.
  3. Pay Fees: Submit the renewal fee along with your application.
  4. Submit Documentation: Provide proof of completed CEUs and any other required documentation.

Contact Information:
Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification (ACBHC)
Address: P.O. Box 60207, Fairbanks, AK 99706
Phone: (907) 456-3171
Website: ACBHC Website

Got questions? Our Certification Renewal FAQ page has detailed answers!

Education and College Requirements

Degree Programs:

  • Associate Degree: Community colleges offering substance abuse counseling programs.
  • Bachelor‚Äôs Degree: Universities offering bachelor‚Äôs programs in psychology, sociology, social work, and related fields.
  • Master‚Äôs Degree: Universities offering master‚Äôs programs in clinical counseling, psychology, and social work.

Approved Colleges and Universities:

  • University of Alaska Anchorage
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Alaska Pacific University

Explore our College and University Directory for more options!

Certification Modalities and Expectations

Modality Types:

  • Individual Counseling: Focused on one-on-one sessions with clients.
  • Group Counseling: Facilitating group therapy sessions.
  • Family Counseling: Involving family members in the treatment process.
  • Co-occurring Disorders: Addressing both substance abuse and mental health issues.


  • Professionalism: Maintain ethical standards and professional conduct.
  • Continual Learning: Engage in ongoing education and training.
  • Client-Centered Approach: Focus on the needs and well-being of clients.

Learn more in our Modality and Expectations Webinar Series!

Resources and Support

Text Modules:

  • Certification Upgrades: Detailed guides on upgrading your certification.
  • Reciprocity Applications: Step-by-step instructions for applying for reciprocity.

Live Q&A Sessions:

  • Alaska Certification Experts: Monthly live Q&A sessions to answer your questions about certification, renewal, and reciprocity.

Available Study Books

IC&RC endorses the following study books for the respective examinations but does not participate in developing or publishing them.

Alcohol and Drug Counselor
Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor
Clinical Supervision
Peer Recovery
Prevention Specialist

Online Resources:

Webinars and Workshops: Access to online educational events.

Study Materials: Downloadable study guides and practice exams.

Certification Exam Preparation: Online courses and practice tests.

CEU Courses: Continuing education courses to maintain your certification.

Mentorship Programs: Connect with experienced professionals for guidance.

Support Groups: Join peer support groups for ongoing encouragement.

Recovery Resources: Access materials to aid in personal recovery.

Networking Opportunities: Virtual networking events with industry professionals.

Career Development: Tips and resources for advancing your career.

Job Board: Listings of available positions in substance abuse counseling.

Volunteer Opportunities: Ways to gain experience through volunteering.

Scholarship Information: Find scholarships for substance abuse counseling programs.

Financial Aid Resources: Information on grants and financial aid.

Library Access: Access to research articles and journals.

Forum Access: Participate in discussions with peers and experts.

Newsletters: Subscribe to updates and news in the field.

Resource Guides: Comprehensive guides on various topics.

Case Studies: Learn from real-world examples and scenarios.

Client Resources: Materials to use with clients.

Ethics Training: Courses and materials on ethical practices.

Technology Integration: Resources for using technology in counseling.

Visit our Resources Page for more information!

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How do I become CDC?

Contact your state board for specifics.

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