A license is a state’s grant of legal authority to practice a profession within a designated scope of practice. It is required in order to practice or to call oneself a licensed professional. Some states have a single license and some have a tiered system, and the names of licenses, as well as requirements, vary from state to state. Under a licensure system, states define by statute the tasks and function or scope of practice of a profession and provide that these tasks may be legally performed only by those who are licensed. In Connecticut, licensure as an addiction counselor falls under the purview of the Department of Public Health, specifically the Practitioner Licensing and Investigations Section (https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Practitioner-Licensing–Investigations/PLIS/Practitioner-Licensing–Investigations-Section), with standards establish by statute from the Connecticut General Assembly.
The majority, if not all, of U.S. states require individuals to meet a set of minimum standards of practice to work as a substance use disorder counselor or clinical supervisor. These requirements are in place because substance use disorder counselors and clinical supervisors have a unique relationship with their clients. Substance use disorder clients bring multiple health, economic, and family concerns into the treatment setting, requiring counselors and, by extension, their clinical supervisors to address many personal and confidential issues. Without demonstrated practice competencies and adherence to a code of professional ethics, such relationships have the potential to become harmful or inappropriate.
A certification is typically a voluntary process, although certification can be mandatory or required to practice in certain states. Certification is often provided by a private organization for the purpose of providing the public protection on those individuals who have successfully met all requirements for the credential and demonstrated their ability to perform their profession competently. It represents the achievement of a level of professional competency agreed by the international community as qualified to practice effectively. In some states, holding a certification can help a professional obtain a license. IC&RC certification can also allow a professional to more easily relocate to another IC&RC state or jurisdiction. Like a license, certification requirements can and do vary from state to state, but IC&RC ensures that its boards adhere to a set of minimum standards of competency.
Regulators and community treatment agencies have long required substance use disorder treatment professionals to hold a professional certification. With the advance of managed healthcare over the past several years, many governments have now adopted standards that parallel certification requirements for substance use disorder practitioners.
Licensing and certification processes often co-exist in a single jurisdiction and complement one another. entity who then issues the license. The certification process and licensing process may be separate, however when together, both the certification and the license provide the ultimate in public protection. The Connecticut Certification Board serves as the designated exam provider for DPH.
Adapted from https://internationalcredentialing.org/lic-cert