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Drug and alcohol counsellor

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Summary of occupation

​Drug and alcohol counsellors provide support and treatment for individuals and families that are experiencing drug and alcohol issues. They provide confidential counselling and help to develop strategies to assist people living with drug and alcohol problems to set goals and create a positive change in their life. They may also educate the wider community about alcohol and drug abuse and promote healthy living. 

Drug and alcohol counsellors may provide counselling face to face with individuals or groups, or over the phone via a telephone support line.

ANZSCO description: Provides support and treatment for people with drug and alcohol dependency problems, develops strategies which assist them to set goals and affect and maintain change, and provides community education. May work in a call centre.
Alternative names:
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

​A drug and alcohol counsellor needs:

  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • a non-judgemental attitude
  • good problem solving skills
  • patience and understanding
  • a supportive and caring nature
  • discretion and respect for patient confidentiality.
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Working conditions

Drug and alcohol counsellors may work for rehabilitation clinics, counselling services or community health clinics.

They may work from an office to provide individual or group counselling, or may be required to travel to visit clients. They may work within the community, in outreach vans or drop in centres where they deliver services and provide education. They may be required to work at night or on weekends.

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Salary details

​On average, drug and alcohol counsellors, classified under counsellors, can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a drug and alcohol counsellor develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

​Drug and alcohol counsellors may regularly use computers and office equipment to document and maintain records of their interactions with clients. They may also use a range of tests to assess their clients and determine their needs and progress. They may require a driver’s licence to travel to clients and groups within the community.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a drug and alcohol counsellor without any formal qualifications. However, you are more likely to improve your prospects in the industry if you have completed a formal qualification in counselling, community work, mental health, psychology, social work or a related field.

The Certificate IV in Community Work, the Certificate IV in Mental Health, the Diploma of Community Work and the Diploma of Counselling are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a degree in counselling, psychology, social work or a related area.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To work with children in Western Australia, you must obtain a Working with Children Check issued by the Working with Children Screening Unit of the Department of Community Services.​

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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