SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- "This school changed my life." That is the most often heard comment from Navy Drug and Alcohol Counselor School (NDACS) graduating students.
During this intense 11-week course, students learn the full range of services for treating substance use disorders, including clinical evaluation, treatment planning, service coordination, individual and group counseling, referral services and ethics.
"Students from any rate in the Navy come to NDACS to learn the skills and characteristics necessary to help people walk through some of the most shameful and painful experiences in their lives and watch them come out the other side being better than they were when they came in," said Dr. Ted Judson, NDACS department head.
Through hard work, self-examination, practice, memorization, adaptation and perseverance, students learn to counsel Sailors by helping to identify goals and potential solutions to problems that cause emotional turmoil. These skills help to improve communication and coping skills, strengthen self-esteem, and promote behavior change.
The curriculum includes subjects such as basic and advanced therapeutic communication, family dynamics, pharmacology, anger management, self-help models of recovery, sexuality and much more. Students learn when to speak and when to stay silent. They learn to be active listeners and to speak from honest feelings.
NDACS graduates serve as Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program (SARP) counselors at 32 installations in the U.S. and 11 outside the country, as well as aboard 13 aircraft carriers.
New NDACS graduates enter a minimum one-year internship as a SARP counselor. After the first year they are eligible to take a certification exam. If they pass they are certified as a Navy alcohol and drug counselor. After working in the profession for three years they can apply for and take an international certification exam recognized by 40 states, 14 countries and a dozen federal-level certification boards.
"Navy drug and alcohol counselors do far more than just treat substance use disorders. The impact of what we do ripples out and affects work centers, squads and commands, as well as families and loved ones," said Senior Chief Gas Turbine System Technician Jesse Blackhill, an NDACS instructor at Surface Warfare Medical Institute (SWMI).
For more information on the application process for NDACS see your special program detailer or check out our website at http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmotc/swmi/ndacs/Pages/Welcome.aspx
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