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Purdue University and Ivy Tech partner to combat issue of addictions counselor shortage

Mental health agencies are dealing with a crisis of their own -- the agencies are in need of more addiction counselors. Ivy Tech and Purdue University are partnering to help solve that issue.

Posted: Jul 21, 2020 8:02 PM
Updated: Jul 21, 2020 8:02 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) --  Mental Health agencies in Indiana are finding licensed addictions counselors hard to come by.
And in this pandemic, the need for these workers has been amplified.

Now a partnership between Purdue University and Ivy Tech is working to combat this issue. Jo Micon, Dean of Ivy Tech's School of Public Affairs and Social Services said the universities decided to combine forces.

"Before, Purdue had the bachelor's degree and we had the addictions courses, and so, our graduates, neither one of them were eligible for the license," said Micon.

This partnership is for Purdue students who are majoring in Human Services. The partnership allows these students to earn their Addictions Studies Certificate after taking five Ivy Tech addiction studies courses and two Purdue psychology courses. According to Micon, those courses meet the requirements of the state's bachelor's level, pre-supervision license in the field of addiction counseling (LACA).

"There are very few people that come out of bachelor's degree programs that are trained to work with people who have significant substance abuse problems," said Tom Gilliom, Valley Oaks Health.

Gilliom said they're seeing this problem right within their organization here in Tippecanoe County.

"They come out of college with some background about dealing with mental health issues with people but don't have the training about addictions and that's a completely different approach," said Gilliom.

He said Valley Oaks Health served about 20 people per month before the pandemic. Now it serves about 120 people per month and that includes people who are specifically dealing with addiction. Valley Oaks serves people in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties. He sees this program not only greatly benefiting not only the students who take the courses but also mental health employers throughout the state.

"As it develops and people end up graduating from the program, it will help many many people around the state of Indiana," said Gilliom. 

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