Benefits of a Certificate in Addiction Counseling

Morgridge College of Education is one of the few graduate schools in Colorado that offers the Addiction Counseling Certification coursework required to obtain the professional certificate, CAC II. Dr. Mike Faragher, Director of the Problem Gambling Treatment and Research Center in the Counseling Psychology Program, was a key player in establishing MCE’s Addiction Counseling Coursework Track. Faragher and the Counseling Psychology Department worked together to find a way to offer the variety of courses and content required to meet CAC II coursework requirements.

“Our students kept asking for it, so we kept adding classes,”  he states.

In January of 2012, MCE completed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of Behavioral Health at the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Counseling Psychology Graduate Program that recognizes MCE’s Addiction Counseling coursework track as meeting the course requirements for the CAC II credential. Upon completion of the Counseling Psychology addiction track classes, graduates have all coursework required to earn the CAC II credential. Students interested in obtaining the certificate must also complete 2,000 hours of CAC supervised counseling and pass the national professional examination. To get official CAC supervision, students must be supervised by a Certified Addiction Counselor III (CAC III) or a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC).

“We have a vision of also adding a formalized way of completing the supervised work experience through our program,” adds Faragher.

The Addiction Counseling coursework track consists of six classes:

  • Group Counseling
  • Ethics
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Pharmacology of Addiction I&II
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Motivational Interviewing.

Faragher explains:

Two of the six courses – Ethics and Group Counseling – are already required for Counseling Psychology graduate students, so the additional coursework for the Certificate is a valuable investment considering the benefits of having CAC II on your resume. And, our Infectious Disease class is taught by perhaps the most qualified instructor in the state, Dr. James Neid, from Rocky Mountain Infectious Disease. It is extremely rare in Colorado to have a licensed physician specializing in infectious diseases actually teach this required class.”

Addiction is becoming a critical issue in mental and behavioral health. Having been in the addiction field for over 40 years, Faragher is a Licensed Psychologist as well as a Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC III) and a Certified Problem Gambling Counselor (Level II). He is also one of Colorado’s two Board Approved Clinical Consultants endorsed by the International Problem Gambling Counselor Certification Board. He describes the importance of the Addiction Counseling Certificate in the field:

CAC II is held in high regard at every treatment center and is a powerful credential when applying for jobs; even agencies that don’t specialize in addiction treatment are aware that addiction is important in a variety of settings. Addiction counseling helps identify problems in elementary schools, high schools, couples and family counseling, correctional institutions, and treatment centers.”

In the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the addiction section was greatly expanded to include, for the first time ever, non-substance using behaviors, while also broadening the criteria of addictive disorder, resulting in a more common diagnosis. Faragher comments on the impact of the May 2013 edition:

“Now that addiction is more visible and commonly diagnosed, there is more interest in having a better understanding of addiction, where it comes from and what treatments work and don’t work. With the rewriting of DSM-5, the whole addiction piece of mental/behavioral health is going to become a bigger issue in coming years and our Addiction Counseling coursework track makes our students even more prepared.”

To learn more about the Addiction Counseling Coursework Program and the Counseling Psychology MA and PhD Program, contact the Office of Admissions at Morgridge College of Education at or 303-871-2509

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