Section 1: Transdisciplinary Foundations

Addiction professionals work in a broad variety of disciplines but share an understanding of the addictive process that goes beyond the narrow confines of any one specialty. Specific proficiencies, skills, levels of involve-ment with clients, and scope of practice vary widely among specializa-tions. At their base, however, all addiction-focused disciplines are built on four common foundations.
This section focuses on four sets of competencies that are transdisci-plinary in that they underlie the work not just of counselors but of all addiction professionals. The four areas of knowledge identified here serve as prerequisites to the development of competency in any of the addiction-focused disciplines.

  • Understanding Addiction
  • Treatment Knowledge
  • Application to Practice
  • Professional Readiness

Regardless of professional identity or discipline, each treatment provider must have a basic understanding of addiction that includes knowledge of current models and theories, appreciation of the multiple contexts within which substance use occurs, and awareness of the effects of psychoactive drug use. Each professional must be knowledgeable about the continuum of care and the social contexts affecting the treatment and recovery process.

Each addiction specialist must be able to identify a variety of helping strategies that can be tailored to meet the needs of individual clients. Each professional must be prepared to adapt to an ever-changing set of challenges and constraints.

Although specific skills and applications vary across disciplines, the attitu-dinal components tend to remain constant. The development of effective practice in addiction counseling depends on the presence of attitudes reflecting openness to alternative approaches, appreciation of diversity, and willingness to change.

The following knowledge and attitudes are prerequisite to the develop-ment of competency in the professional treatment of substance use disorders. Such knowledge and attitudes form the basis of understand-ing on which discipline-specific proficiencies are built.


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