I spoke with Dr. Daniel Yalisove, a psychology professor and CASAC program advisor, who is interested in developing curricula for substance abuse education. I wanted to know more about the CASAC preparation and training here at John Jay for master’s students. CASAC stands for “Credential in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling,” which is issued by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).
I explained that I’m trying to form a better idea about what my future line of work might look like; I want to figure out what I can handle, and what I can’t. One approach might be to gather more information about the various populations I might encounter. Which brought me to people struggling with addictions: did I have the guts?
CASAC is relevant and useful for careers in Criminal Justice, since a majority of offenders have substance abuse problems. As a substance abuse counselor with a specialization in forensics, Dr. Yalisove expanded on some of these areas of employment. He said you might find yourself working in drug courts: screening offenders for substance abuse, monitoring clients once in treatment, and reporting to the court; or providing counseling to clients. Conventional drug treatment facilities often treat clients mandated by Community Restorative Justice, and Forensic Mental Health Couseling graduates would be well-qualified to be counselors and supervisors in these types of programs.
After completing the classroom education and clinical training experience requirements (three graduate level courses, five undergraduate courses, and a 300-hour externship at an OASAS-licensed facility with a properly credentialed supervisor), the student acquires an Addiction Studies Program Certificate and applies to obtain a CASAC-T (CASAC-Trainee). This allows students to work, paid, for one year in an OASAS licensed alcoholism or drug abuse facility, again under a full-time supervisor, which makes them eligible to take the written and oral examination to receive CASAC credentials. This entire process may take about three to four years. If you are currently taking Addiction Studies courses, but will graduate before finishing the program, you may complete the Addiction Studies Program afterwards; however, you will have to reapply to John Jay as a non-degree student.
Dr. Yalisove advised that you must approach this area with a certain openness, almost a type of empathy and lots of patience, because you will be dealing with frustrating circumstances. This work can offer humility and a job that truly can be very rewarding. He warned you won’t be able to reach everyone you work with, but you will reach a large percentage. After twenty years in the field, his experiences have validated his efforts. The CASAC-T can be obtained with the eight courses only. The internship is needed only for the CASAC.
For more information about the CASAC, please go to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse web site at http://www.oasas.state.ny.us/index.cfm.
Daniel Yalisove, Ph.D. can be reached during his office hours, Monday and Wednesday 4-5:30pm, in 10.63.14NB.
The Addiction Studies Program website: