WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Navy Medicine announced June 21 it is looking for E-5 through E-9 Sailors and Marines to become drug and alcohol counselors for the Navy and Marine Corps Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program (SARP).
Approved applicants attend an 11-week Navy Drug and Alcohol Counselor School (NDACS) at the Surface Warfare Medical Institute in San Diego, Calif., and enter into a training pipeline that offers the potential for both Navy and international civilian certifications.
"We are looking for individuals who can really relate to other people," said Ted Judson, assistant department head for certification and contracts, NDACS. "We need candidates who have good active listening skills, can empathize well with others, who can be non-judgmental and show warmth and positive regard for others."
NDACS Students learn counseling skills and techniques, the integration of 12-step programs with bio-cycle, social and spiritual aspects of substance abuse and dependence.
Sailor and Marine applicants can be from any rating or MOS, but must meet certain criteria, including having no record of non-judicial punishment for at least two years and must have stable personal affairs.
"Many students arrive with little or no exposure to work in mental health or substance abuse settings but have amazing treasures of life experiences, and end up leaving with profoundly altered views of the world around them - and of themselves," said Jerry Adams, a psychologist and clinical preceptor at NDACS. "They leave with skills that ready them for lifelong learning which is so essential to success in this field."
NDACS is designed to provide training to military personnel who will eventually provide outreach, screening, assessment, and treatment of alcohol and other drug addictions for fellow Sailors and Marines. The school convenes a new class five times a year and is now accepting applications for its session that begins Oct. 4, 2011.
Students participate in a variety of classroom activities including didactic lectures and experiential activities. They go through a three-week practicum experience where they actually go into the field and work with drug and alcohol abusers in a treatment setting, before wrapping up their final week with information and readiness surrounding their internship.
Practice council sessions are recorded so that students can actually see themselves and evolve as counselors.
"There is no other Navy school like this, no other experience like this," said Judson. "If you want a challenge to reach out beyond what you are doing now, then try this on."
Once a candidate graduates NDACS, they enter a minimum one year internship as a SARP counselor. After the first year, applicants take a certification exam and if they pass, they are certified as a Navy Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC I).
After working in the profession for three years they can apply and take an international certification exam that is recognized in 40 states, 14 countries and a number of federal level certification boards. If they pass the exam they receive an ADC II certification.
"Navy trained counselors certified at the reciprocal level as ADC II's are highly sought after in the civilian treatment community," said Judson. "Whoever the person is before they come into NDACS, they are better when they come out better Sailors, better Marines, better spouses, better partners, better communicators. As drug and alcohol counselors we do far more than just treat substance use disorders. The impact of what we do ripples out and affects work centers, squads, commands, as well as families and loved ones."
NDACS is staffed for class sizes of up to 40 students, but in recent years typical classes have had an average enrollment of 10-15 students, according to Judson.
"We would absolutely welcome another full class of 40 students, or even better - five classes of 40 students," said Judson.
Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 Navy Medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.
For more news from Navy Medicine, visit www.navy.mil/local/mednews/.