UNCP to integrate substance use disorder education into counseling curriculum

Stephanie Robinson
Dr. Stephanie Robinson, Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The Department of Counseling has been awarded a $198,310 grant to integrate substance use disorder education into the curriculum of health care and health services education programs at UNC Pembroke.

The ultimate goal of the Addiction Treatment Immersion Initiative is to expand the number of practitioners to deliver high-quality, evidence-based substance use disorder (SUD) treatment.

Addiction-specific education will be integrated into Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited counseling curriculum required for all clinical mental health and professional school counseling students. University officials say these efforts will increase awareness and competency of evidence-based SUD education.

“We hope this additional training and education will lead to enhanced counseling skills and culturally competent practice as well as increase the number of highly qualified individuals providing addiction treatment, prevention and recovery services in North Carolina,” said Dr. Stephanie Robinson, a professor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program, who will serve as project director. 

The two-year project is being funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation and to improve the lives of individuals living with mental and substance use disorders, and their families.

The purpose of the program is to increase the knowledge of school counselors, clinical mental health counselors and other practitioners who are engaging in mental health treatment, Robinson said.

“By increasing their knowledge base, we hope to produce more competent and culturally responsive clinicians who can respond to individuals with addiction and substance use disorders,” Robinson said.

Data collected throughout the duration of the project will be shared with local, state and national counseling licensure boards, credentialing boards, and professional organizations that may lead to the strengthening of licensure requirements and policy revision.  

“We hope this information will be used by these various organizations to ​strengthen mainstream curriculum and enhance licensure standards. Intentionally including more SUD education and training will result in an increase in the number of counselors qualified to treat individuals with addictive use disorders. As we are unfortunately seeing, these problems are not going away,” she added.

Fellow counseling faculty members Drs. Dana Unger, Whitney Akers and former UNCP faculty member Jeff Warren collaborated with Robinson to create the project proposal for the grant.

Robinson is a licensed professional counselor, a licensed clinical addictions specialist (LCAS) and a subject matter expert in the area of addiction counseling and treatment. She is president of North Carolina Addiction and Offender Counselor Association and previously served on the North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board.