Role of a LCDC Counselor

Licensed chemical dependency counselors perform assessments.

A licensed chemical dependency counselor, or LCDC, provides group, individual and family therapy sessions to people struggling with alcohol or drug problems. Training is extensive, requiring 270 classroom hours, followed by a 300-hour practicum, a 4,000-hour internship and passing a licensing examination. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LCDCs made made a median wage of $38,120 in 2010.


LCDCs conduct initial evaluations of their clients to assess the scope and depth of their chemical dependency issues, determine a client's readiness for treatment and develop a mutually agreed upon treatment plan. The assessment stage typically begins with the client completing a comprehensive survey listing his chemical abuse history, family history of problems and treatment he has attempted. The LCDC then meets with the client, his family and, if feasible his friends or coworkers, to evaluate his current level of functioning.

Treatment Planning

If a client is willing and able to engage in substance abuse treatment, an LCDC works with him to develop mutually agreed-upon goals to ultimately quit using and get his addiction under control. Once the treatment plan is created, it's important to make sure the client understands what it's going to take to be successful. He may understand, for instance, that he has to "maintain sober friendships," but might not fully realize that he'll have to walk away from his unhealthy relationships. The LCDC and the client then usually meet with members of the client's support system to explain the treatment plan, making sure that everyone understands and supports the client's healing process.


LCDCs conduct group, individual and family therapy therapy sessions, using a relapse prevention model. The LCDC helps the client work through his emotions as he's dealing with the ramifications of his chemical dependency, such as loss of friends, jobs and loved ones. Ultimately, the LCDC works with the client to create a comprehensive plan to re-engineer his environment, removing or minimizing all people, places and things that trigger thoughts of abusing chemicals. The LCDC helps the client share his relapse prevention plan with his support network, so they can reinforce his recovery efforts.

Chemical Dependency Education

LCDCs give their clients and their families accurate information about the nature of addiction, what behaviors may inadvertently enable the client's using substances, what causes a chemical relapse and how to maintain sobriety. The LCDC teaches the client to identify warning signs, which are thoughts, feelings, events and actions that trigger him to want to abuse chemicals. The LCDC also helps him to come up with "stoppers," which are strategies to combat these urges.The LCDC imparts this information by conducting structured relapse education sessions, giving reading assignments and answering questions about treatment issues.

2016 Salary Information for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned a median annual salary of $41,070 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned a 25th percentile salary of $32,470, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $52,690, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 102,400 people were employed in the U.S. as substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.

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