Section 2 Practice Dimensions

PD 6 Client, Family, and Community Education


The process of providing clients, families, significant others, and community groups with information on risks related to psychoactive substance use, as well as available prevention, treatment, and recovery resources.

Competency 99

Provide culturally relevant formal and informal education programs that raise awareness and support substance abuse prevention and the recovery process.


  • Cultural differences among ethnically and racially diverse communities.
  • Cultural differences in attitudes toward consumption of psychoactive substances.
  • Delivery of educational programs.
  • Research and theory on prevention of substance use problems.
  • Environmental strategies and prevention campaigns.
  • Learning styles and teaching methods.
  • Public speaking.
  • Benefits of working with community coalitions.


  • Delivering prevention and treatment educational programs.
  • Facilitating discussion.
  • Identifying, creating, and modifying relevant educational materials to meet the needs of the intended audience.
  • Making public presentations.


  • Awareness of and sensitivity to cultural differences.
  • Awareness of the potential need to adapt educational materials to respond to cultural differences.
  • Appreciation of the difference between educating and providing information.
  • Appreciation of the historical, social, cultural, and other influences that shape the perceptions of psychoactive substance use.

Competency 100

Describe factors that increase the likelihood for an individual, community, or group to be at risk for, or resilient to, psychoactive substance use disorders.


  • Individual, community, and family risk and protective factors.
  • The interactions of risk and protective factors and their influence on the development of substance abuse.


  • Describing risk and protective factors as they relate to individual, community, school, and family domains.


  • Sensitivity to the interaction of risk and protection in the development of substance use disorders.
  • Nonjudgmental presentation of issues.

Competency 101

Sensitize others to issues of cultural identity, ethnic background, age, and gender in preven- tion, treatment, and recovery.


  • Cultural issues in planning prevention and treatment programs.
  • Age and gender differences in psychoactive substance use.
  • Culture, gender, and age-appropriate prevention, treatment, and recovery resources.


  • Communicating effectively with diverse populations.
  • Providing educational programs that reflect understanding of culture, ethnicity, age, and gender.


  • Sensitivity to the role of culture, ethnicity, age, and gender in prevention, treatment, and recovery.
  • Awareness of one’s cultural biases.

Competency 102

Describe warning signs, symptoms, and the course of substance use disorders.


  • The continuum of use and abuse, including the warning signs and symptoms of a developing substance use disorder.
  • Current Diagnostic and Statistical Man- ual of Mental Disorders (DSM) categories or other diagnostic standards associated with psychoactive substance use.


  • Identifying and teaching signs and symptoms of various substance use disorders.


  • Recognition of the importance of research in prevention and treatment.


Uses of The Competencies

The Oregon Consortium of Addiction Studies Educators (OCASE) developed a core statewide curriculum for training addiction counselors based on The Competencies. All colleges in the State that offer any of the nine core courses included in the curriculum have committed to a common set of competency-based learning objectives.

The Wisconsin Association on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (WAAODA) uses The Competencies as the primary framework and standard for its Minority Counselor Training Institute (MCTI) to develop highly qualified and culturally competent professionals from minority communities.

WAAODA created the curriculum for MCTI by customizing and adding modules to the OCASE curriculum using The Competencies as a guide. Now medical schools and technical colleges in the State are considering adoption of this curriculum.


Competency 103

Describe how substance use disorders affect families and concerned others.


  • How psychoactive substance use by one family member affects other family members or significant others.
  • The family’s potential positive or negative influence on the development and continuation of a substance use disorder.
  • The role of the family, couple, or significant other in treatment and recovery.


  • Educating clients, families, and the community about the effect of substance use disorders on the family, couple, or significant others.


  • Recognition of the unique response of family members and significant others to substance use disorders.

Competency 104

Describe the continuum of care and resources available to the family and concerned others.


  • The continuum of care.
  • Available treatment resources, including local health, allied health, and behavioral health resources.


  • Motivating both family members and the client to seek out resources and services from the full continuum of care.
  • Describing different treatment modalities and the continuum of care.
  • Identifying and making referrals to local health, allied health, and behavioral health resources.


  • Appreciation of strengths-based principles that emphasize client autonomy and skills development.
  • Appreciation of the difficulties families and significant others may encounter in seeking help.
  • Appreciation of ethnic and cultural differences.

Competency 105

Describe principles and philosophy of prevention, treatment, and recovery.


  • Models for prevention of, treatment of, and recovery from substance use disorders.
  • Research and theory on models of prevention, treatment, and recovery.
  • Influences on societal and political responses to substance use disorders.


  • Organizing and delivering presentations that reflect basic information on prevention, treatment, and recovery.


  • Appreciation of the importance of prevention and treatment.
  • Recognition of the validity of a variety of prevention and treatment strategies.

Competency 106

Understand and describe the health and behavior problems related to substance use, including transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases.


  • Health risks associated with substance use.
  • High-risk behaviors related to substance use.
  • Prevention and transmission of infectious diseases.
  • Factors that may be associated with the prevention or transmission of infectious diseases.
  • Community health and allied health resources.


  • Teaching clients and community members about disease transmission and prevention.
  • Facilitating small- and large-group discussions.


  • Awareness of one’s biases when presenting information.

Competency 107

Teach life skills, including but not limited to stress management, relaxation, communication, assertiveness, and refusal skills.


  • The importance of life skills to the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.
  • How these skills are typically taught to individuals and groups.
  • Resources available to teach these skills.


  • Delivering educational sessions.
  • Identifying and accessing other instructional resources for training.
  • Facilitating the practice and acquisition of life skills.


  • Recognition of the importance of life skills training to the process of recovery.


Uses of The Competencies

In Iowa The Competencies is being used in a number of ways. The master’s program in Substance Abuse Counseling at the University of Iowa is based on The Competencies. The Competencies also is the basis for a “toolbox” training, through a subcontractor of the Prairielands ATTC, designed to educate entry-level substance abuse counselors about the skills needed for quality treatment and passing the State’s certification exam.

In addition, a graduate assistant at the Center of Excellence for Substance Abuse and Dually Diagnosed Persons at the University of Iowa is using the practice dimensions as a framework for his dissertation. He is assessing substance abuse counselors and their perceptions of the content areas in which they need and desire more supervision.



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