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What to Look for in a Substance Abuse Counselor in Fort Lauderdale


What to Look for in a Substance Abuse Counselor in Fort LauderdaleIf you’ve begun the search for a substance abuse counselor near you, you’ve taken a huge step in the right direction. Overcoming drug or alcohol addiction isn’t easy and sometimes, the hardest part is admitting you have a problem and asking for help.

At the same time, there are so many addiction treatment resources available in Fort Lauderdale that finding the right therapist for you may seem overwhelming, especially if you have never been to treatment before. However, finding an addiction counselor that you are compatible with is a vital component of your recovery because this is the person who will monitor you throughout treatment and help you reach your goals.

Here is everything you need to know about finding the right therapist that will meet your individual needs and help guide you throughout your recovery.

What Do Addiction Counselors Do?

Depending on the state the therapist is practicing in, he or she may be required to have varying credentials. For example, some states require therapists to obtain their Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CDAC) certification which requires three years of work experience and 300 hours of secondary education. In Florida, therapists may apply to become a Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC), which requires a high school degree or higher.[1] On the other hand, many addiction therapists will have an associate or bachelor’s degree. However, the level of education and credentials aren’t as important as finding someone who is dedicated to helping you heal on a personal level.

Your substance abuse counselor will be the person working with you in both group and one-on-one counseling sessions. This person will develop your treatment plan, monitor your progress throughout treatment, and help you set and reach your recovery goals. If your therapist is someone who you don’t trust or feel comfortable around, you are unlikely to make much progress. As a result, it’s important to know what to look for in an addiction counselor.

Things to Look For in a Substance Abuse Counselor

Once you begin working with a therapist, you should be able to decide fairly quickly whether or not the relationship will be a successful one. Although it is completely normal, and even expected, to feel uncomfortable during therapy, it is vital that it is not so uncomfortable that it stops you from being open and honest with your therapist. Here are some things to consider.

Trust and Comfort

Any relationship is built on the foundation of trust, including the relationship between a therapist and a patient. In order to heal from addiction and any underlying conditions, one must be able to be vulnerable during therapy and willing to disclose intimate feelings or difficult experiences. If you don’t feel safe with your therapist or feel as though you cannot trust him or her, it will be difficult to talk about the things you need to talk about in order to heal. For this reason, you should look for an addiction counselor who makes you feel safe, listens to what you have to say, treats you with respect, and never judges you. They should have your best interest at heart at all times.

The patient-therapist relationship is an extremely intimate and vulnerable one. As a result, you should choose a therapist who has similar beliefs and life experiences as you. For example, some substance abuse treatment programs will practice gender-matching because some people feel more comfortable with a therapist who is of the same gender. If you simply don’t feel comfortable with your therapist, it’s important to advocate for yourself and request a new one.

Type of Therapeutic Approach

Different therapists may approach substance abuse counseling in different ways. For example, some use a strictly trauma-informed approach that focuses on healing past traumas and teaching people how to cope with triggers. Some holistic or 12-step based treatment programs in Fort Lauderdale will have counselors who take a holistic or spiritual approach to treatment. On the other hand, some counselors focus on talk therapies and behavioral therapies, which are used to treat a variety of mental health conditions.

If you know what kind of treatment you need, you can seek a drug and alcohol counselor who uses that approach. Or, if you have tried one approach in the past and didn’t benefit from it, you may want to try something different. That being said, it isn’t always easy to determine which type of treatment you need, especially when you have been abusing drugs or alcohol. As a result, it may be better to consult with an addiction specialist and find a counselor who you trust, then let them carry out your course of treatment based on your needs and their clinical opinion.

Personal Experience and Professional Expertise

Drug and alcohol addiction are complex conditions, and no two individuals are the same. Up to 50% of people who seek treatment for substance abuse also experience a co-occurring mental health condition at some point in their lives.[2] If someone struggling with depression only seeks treatment for substance abuse, their depression may persist and ultimately drive them to relapse. However, many drug and alcohol counselors are trained in both substance abuse and mental health, so they can provide dual diagnosis treatment.

Furthermore, a handful of addiction counselors in Fort Lauderdale are in recovery themselves or have personal experience with a loved one in recovery. These individuals may be able to provide first-hand insight into your own experiences and feelings. Still, personal experience with addiction and recovery is not a requirement – it is only a personal preference. The point is that you should choose someone who you feel meets your specific treatment needs – whether it be underlying mental illness, grief, physical illness, or solely substance abuse.

Get Connected with a Substance Abuse Counselor in Fort Lauderdale Today

Getting help for addiction is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. At Agape Treatment, we know how important it is to connect you with a drug and alcohol counselor that meets your specific needs. That’s why our rehab center is equipped with highly trained substance abuse and mental health counselors who can guide you throughout the treatment process.

Moreover, we know the importance of having an individualized treatment plan. So, we’ll pair you with a counselor that not only meets your needs but who will work with you on an intimate level to help you overcome your addiction. With constant access to your therapist as well as peer support, you will find that recovery isn’t as bad as you may think.

If you or a loved one is ready to get help, contact us today to get connected with a substance abuse counselor in Fort Lauderdale.


  1. Certified Addiction Counselor
  2. The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness

Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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