Substance Abuse Counseling Program

Challenging. Demanding. Rewarding.

Substance abuse counseling is a demanding, yet rewarding, field of human service that requires patience, compassion, a keen desire to help others, field-specific knowledge and skill, as well a good deal of psychological maturity.

In this part-time, two-year substance abuse counseling program, you’ll focus on developing both basic and intermediate-level  knowledge and skills required of entry-level substance abuse counselors and work on developing a personal and professional maturity through a self-exploration process.

Certificate Requirements

Course Alpha Course Title Credits
HSER 100* Self Exploration (3)  
First Semester (Fall) Requirements
HSER 140 Individual Counseling 3
HSER 268 Survey of Substance Abuse and Addiction 3
Second Semester (Spring) Requirements
HSER 245 Group Counseling 3
HSER 270 Substance Abuse Counseling 3
Third Semester (Fall) Requirements
HSER 294** Substance Abuse Seminar & Practicum I*** 3
Fourth Semester (Spring) Requirements
HSER 295** Substance Abuse Seminar & Practicum II*** 3
  Total Program Credits 18


In order to enroll in human service (HSER) courses, you either must be eligible to enroll in ENG 100 via placement, or have previously completed ENG 100. In addition, the prerequisite course HSER 100 is required. The 18 credits do not include the prerequisite course HSER 100. If you wish to take more than two courses per semester, a prerequisite waiver from the instructors teaching HSER 140, 245, 268 or 270 must be completed prior to being able to register concurrently for these program courses. One must take HSER 268 prior to enrolling in HSER 270. Entering in the fall allows for completion of all course work within the two-year period.
*You may concurrently enroll in HSER 100 with HSER 140, 245, 268 and 270 during the first or second semester if you are eligible to enroll in ENG 100 via placement or if you have previously completed ENG 100. **You need to complete the prerequisite course, HSER 100 (3 credits) and the four counseling courses (HSER 140, 268, 245, 270) prior to enrollment in the second year, fall HSER 294 and spring HSER 295 practicum courses. The practicum courses need to be completed fall to spring.
***Practicum requires 224 hours, or approximately 16 hours/week internship in a substance abuse treatment facility during both fall and spring semesters. Learners are only eligible to register for practicum once they have completed the prerequisite HSER 100, 268, 270 and either one of the two counseling courses, HSER 140 or 245.

About the Program

Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate of Competence (18 credits) offers you the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills required by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium, (ICRC) which governs Hawai‘i state certification of substance abuse counselors. The certificate fulfills the substance abuse specific education requirement for Hawai‘i state certification and satisfies a portion of the experiential hours requirement.

This is a two-year, part-time program of study. You'll need to complete the prerequisite course, HSER 100 (3 credits) and the four counseling courses (HSER 140, 268, 245, 270) prior to enrollment in the second year, fall HSER 294 and spring HSER 295 practicum courses. Costs: tuition and fees
Certificate of Competence in Substance Abuse Counseling Student Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:
  • Recognize the medical, societal, psychological, and family affects of abuse and addiction with regard to alcohol and other drugs
  • Identify Hawai‘i’s prevention/intervention and treatment system, its strengths and limitations
  • Develop an awareness of issues and other personal values/biases that might impact one’s effectiveness as a substance abuse counselor
  • Demonstrate knowledge and application of the Twelve Core Functions engaged by the alcohol and drug abuse counselor, and know how these functions apply to the continuum of care
  • Demonstrate an ability to do an effective biopsychosocial assessment and display a basic knowledge of counseling approaches used with individuals and groups
  • Identify the ethical and legal issues that confront the counseling professional, and abide by them when in the field
  • Distinguish the stages of the treatment process, including aftercare, relapse prevention, and the issues relevant to their clients involved in each stage of intervention
  • Display attending, active listening, and other counseling skills in their work with individuals and groups
For current information on jobs here in Hawaii: Career Coach

Gainful Employment Disclosure(s):

Gwen E. Williams, Professor CC, Human Services; B.A., Psychology; B.A., Environmental Studies, University of California at Santa Cruz; M.S.W., University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies

Patti Isaacs, Ph.D, Executive Director, Ho‘omau Ke Ola

Keith Takeshita, COSAC Student Representative

Dennis Tamura, COSAC Student Representative

Suzanne A. Whitehead, Ed.D., NCC, CSAC, ICADC, Chief Quality Assurance Improvement Office ADAD, DOH

Irene M. Wong, LCSW, CSAC, Manager of Adult Clinical Services Hina Mauka

Nicole S. Wright, PsyD, CSAC, ICADC, Staff Psychologist/Faculty, Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center Director, Malama Recovery Services, and the Leeward Kōkua Program