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Social Work and Human Services

Substance Abuse Counselling diploma

Alcohol and drug abuse is a growing problem in our society and an increasing number of individuals are seeking help in treating their addiction problems. Similarly there is an increasing number of people working in the social services and related fields who are seeking additional training in order to become more effective with their client groups.

The Substance Abuse Counselling programs are designed to produce beginning professionals who recognize their own limitations and strengths and are prepared to undertake professional development on an ongoing basis. Intervention skills will be developed on individual, group, and family levels. Emphasis in the programs will be on providing knowledge of alcohol and drug dependencies, techniques of working with clients with dependencies, and knowledge and skills relating to specific client groups. Substance abuse counsellors may or may not be recovering people, but undertaking this training is not part of the recovery process. Prospective students are expected to lead a life free from substance abuse or risk being removed from the program.

The certificate program is offered as a post-graduate certificate to those holding diplomas, certificates, or degrees in allied fields (such as education, health care, criminal justice, social services, etc.) and is geared towards a post-basic level of educational achievement.

The diploma program is available for those with little or no post-secondary education.

Entrance requirements

1. You must meet the pre-requisites for CMNS 155 or ENGL 105.

2. You must have a sustained work history of at least 5 years.

3. Evidence of satisfactory post-secondary course work (15 credits minimum).

4. Four years’ sobriety.

5. Personal suitability for working with people with substance issues.

6. You must complete and include all documentation (see How to Apply).

Students who do not meet these requirements might consider the Social Services Studies program path.

How to apply

1. Submit the application fee along with your UCFV application for admission form to the Admissions & Records (A&R) office. Application forms are available from any A & R or Student Services office. See the Program Charts for a complete list of application dates and general information.

Additional documents required for a complete application:
• Evidence of having met the pre-requisite for CMNS 155 or ENGL 105
• Official transcript (or interim transcript) from all other previous post-secondary institutions showing grade/course achievement.
• An additional application information form detailing all your past work and volunteer experience and education (include social services related and other)
• A personal statement indicating why you want to enter the program and what has brought you to this career choice. Please refer to the kinds of experiences you have had in this field, either paid or volunteer. This should be not less than 250 words and not more than 500 words.
• Two recent satisfactory letters of references from past employers, teachers, or volunteer supervisors who can comment on your suitability to work with people in the social services field should be included with your application package. These must be on reference forms available from the SWHS department either online, or hard copies can be picked up from UCFV.

2. Upon admission to the program, you will be provided with registration information. A deposit is required when you register (see the Fees and Other Costs section). This money will be applied toward your tuition fees. Final payment of all course fees is due the end of the second week of classes.

Basis for admission decision

1. All complete applications received by January 31 will be reviewed. Applications received after this date will be reviewed if space permits.

2. Personal suitability of applicants will be assessed using a point rating system. Points are awarded for past academic education, all work or volunteer experience (social services or other), demonstrated writing ability, reference letters, personal statement and the group interview. Admission will be granted on a first-qualified, first-served basis to those scoring above the required threshold, and who have completed a successful interview.

3. A successful group interview. The group interview generally consists of four to six student applicants and two SWHS department members. Applicants should be prepared to discuss their career goals and knowledge of the field, and are expected to demonstrate appropriate interpersonal and life skills.

4. Only those who submit complete applications and score the minimum required points will be called for a group interview. Every effort will be made to give an admissions decision within two months of the application deadline.

If the program is full, qualified students will be placed on a temporary waitlist. If you meet the entrance requirements and a space becomes available before September 1, you will be contacted. After September 1, the waitlist is void.

In cases where interim transcripts are submitted, an admissions decision may be made conditional upon completion of academic requirements. Proof of completion of entrance requirements is due the end of the first week in August.

Academic and practicum regulations

A GPA of 2.0 (C average) is required for graduation and practicum placement. Students who do not complete a prerequisite course may be allowed to register for a subsequent course at the discretion of the program head. UCFV reserves the right to cancel any course for which there is insufficient registration. Continuation of the program will be dependent upon adequate enrolment.

Acceptance into the program does not guarantee practicum placement. Students will be individually assessed as to their readiness, in terms of skills, attitudes and knowledge, for the practicum. Practica are primarily in the Fraser Valley and students are not guaranteed the placement of their choice. Students will generally begin their practica after the completion of the first semester, although the practicum can be started later. Students working in the field may be allowed to do some, but not all, of their practicum hours in their workplace.


While the certificate program is offered only in Abbotsford, students may complete the first year of the diploma program in either Abbotsford or Chilliwack. They should indicate the preferred campus on their application.

Fees and additional costs

See the Fees and Other Costs section. (Please note: HSER 500, 501, 502, 510, 511, 512, and 530 are offered on a cost-recovery basis with higher tuition fees.)

Some employers may be willing to sponsor their employees; prospective students are urged to approach their employers about this possibility.

Workload and classroom expectations

In addition to the classroom modules, you will be required to read, study, and prepare assignments outside of class and you can expect to spend an additional three to six hours per week outside of class. In addition you will be required to make videotapes in our lab.

Program outline

Semester I

Course Title Credits
CMNS 155 Communications for Human Services  
 or ENGL 105 The Reading and Writing of Prose 3
HSER 120 Introduction to Interpersonal Communications 3
HSER 129 Seminar 1
PHIL Philosophy Requirement (see Note on electives, below) 3
PSYC 101 Introduction to Psychology I 3
SOWK 110 Intro to Social Work & Human Services 3
Total   16

Semester II

Course Title Credits
HSER 130 Practicum I 6
SOWK 210 Introduction to Social Welfare 3
SOC 101 Introductory Sociology 3
Elective Group A — Data Manipulation (see Note on electives) 3
Total   15

Semester III

Course Title Credits
SOWK 225 Human Behaviour and the Social Environment 3
HSER 200 Counselling Skills 3
HSER 500 Counselling Skills for Addictions Work 2
HSER 501 Group Facilitation Skills for Addictions 2
HSER 510 The Nature of Substance Abuse 2
HSER 527 Integrative and Self-care Seminar 1.5
CMNS 251 Professional Report Writing 3
Total   16.5

Semester IV

Course Title Credits
HSER 502 Family Work in Addictions 2
HSER 511 Pharmacology and Psychobiology of Addictions 2
HSER 512 Community Treatment: Assessment and Referral 2
HSER 528 Integrative and Self-care Seminar 1.5
HSER 530 Substance Abuse Practicum 6
HSER 250 Integration of Social Services Theory and Practice 3
Total   16.5
Program Total 64

Note on electives: Students will take one philosophy course and one elective in their diploma program. The electives are divided into two groups: (1) Philosophy requirement; and (2) Group A: data manipulation requirement.


Philosophy requirement (choose one):

• PHIL 100 (Reasoning)
• PHIL 110 (Morality and Politics)
• PHIL 120 (Knowledge and Reality)
• PHIL 210 (Contemporary Issues in Morality and Politics)
• PHIL 240 (Faith and Reason: Philosophy of Religion)

Group A: Data manipulation requirement (choose one):

• ASTR 103, 104
• BIO 105, 111, 112
• CHEM 100, 101
• ECON 101, 102
• MATH 104, 105, 106, 110, 111, 112, 115, 116, 125
• CIS 100, 110 or BUS 160
• GEOG 101, 102, 201, 202, 253
• COMP 100, 150
• PHYS 101
• PSYC 110, 202, 210, 220
• KPE 163, 170, 270

Note: Students intending to apply to the BSW program need to include the following electives: PSYC 110 or MATH 104 (or equivalent introductory statistics), plus three qualifying university-transfer arts and sciences electives.

Please contact the School of Social Work and Human Services regarding appropriate arts and sciences electives.

Note: UCFV cannot guarantee that all courses can be scheduled as outlined. Students may take courses in any order as long as individual course prerequisites are met; however, students should note that taking courses out of the recommended sequence may result in delay of program completion.

Course listings

For complete details on courses see the course descriptions section.

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