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What Does a Treatment Counselor Do?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A treatment counselor provides support to a patient during treatment for substance abuse. Counselors can work with a patient to develop a treatment plan, and provide assistance throughout recovery as patients address various topics that may arise. Numerous organizations offer certification to people who want to work as treatment counselors, offering different credentials to choose from. People considering careers in this field may want to look at job listings to see what kinds of educational qualifications and credentials employers in their area expect.

When a patient approaches a counselor or is referred for treatment, the process starts with an intake meeting. The treatment counselor can discuss the situation with the client in a relaxed environment. This includes the collection of a patient history and a conversation about what brings the patient in for treatment. People electing treatment might talk about their concerns with substance abuse. Individuals compelled or referred for treatment may be more combative, which can require more sensitivity during the interview.

Some cases can have medical implications, which requires the treatment counselor to work with nurses and other care providers. These patients could be at risk of withdrawal complications, some of which might be serious. Meetings can take place both with and without the patient to collect a history and develop some options for treatment. These can be discussed with the patient to determine the best course of treatment.

Inpatient counseling involves intensive treatment for patients who stay at a facility around the clock. The treatment counselor can meet individually with patients in counseling sessions as well as facilitating group work and activities. If patients experience crises or need more assistance, they can set up additional meetings with their counselors. Topics covered can include subjects like coping with withdrawal or addressing the underlying emotional issues that may have contributed to addiction. If necessary, the patient can be referred to a mental health professional as well.

Outpatient counseling is offered on an appointment basis to people who travel to the counselor for meetings. Some patients might attend several hours of counseling daily at first, and then slowly decrease the number of sessions. The treatment counselor can help the patient decide when and how to transition between different levels of therapy. Emergency support is also available for patients in crisis, in which case after the crisis is resolved, the treatment counselor may reevaluate the treatment plan to reduce the risk of future incidents.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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