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WMU-Lansing adds specialty program in substance abuse

Aug. 10, 2009

LANSING--Western Michigan University's College of Health and Human Services is bringing its Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse--SPADA--to the University's WMU-Lansing site, where it will offer a graduate certificate program beginning this September.

The program is a 21-credit-hour specialization for working professionals and graduate students in programs and fields such as counselor education and counseling psychology, occupational therapy, psychology, public administration, biological sciences, social work, sociology and other related disciplines.

Dr. C. Dennis Simpson, director and professor for SPADA, says the program will be the only one of its kind in the Lansing area, and he expects the SPADA courses will attract employees from local mental health agencies and substance abuse clinics as well as from state agencies.

"At the start of 2009, the state of Michigan began requiring the Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC-R) certification for all clinical staff in state-funded substance abuse programs," Simpson notes. "WMU's program fits this need, as its courses and internship component can be applied toward the CAC-R credential."

In addition, Simpson points out that SPADA's revised curriculum--new for fall 2009-- addresses the Recovery Oriented System(s) of Care paradigm. That fact will allow WMU program graduates to work well with other mental health programs in Michigan.

Introduction of the SPADA program in Lansing also will have an important impact on the local community, he says, since the program produces professionals who can meet the state's mandated CAC-R requirements and will increase both the quality and quantity of care for those suffering from substance abuse disorders.

"The work force of substance abuse professionals is rapidly aging and as the need for these services is increasing, there is expected to be a large number of professional staff vacancies due to retirements over the next three to five years," Simpson says.

Students typically choose Western Michigan University's program for a variety of reasons, according to Simpson.

"Some want to initiate a career in the professional provision of substance abuse services and others want to expand their scope of practice from just the provision of mental health services to include substance abuse services," he says. "Most of our students are working in a school, church, social service agency, juvenile justice agency, health care agency or in criminal justice and will, by the nature of their work, be presented with patients and clients having substance abuse disorders."

In addition to the Lansing area, WMU's Graduate Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse is offered in Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Traverse City, and courses rotate among locations. In particular, the Battle Creek and Lansing areas will benefit from a joint program in which the use of technology will allow the courses to be synchronized between the two locations. Students attending classes at these locations will have the opportunity to complete course work for the certificate in about a year.

"By growing program offerings at WMU-Lansing, we're serving the needs of both employers and employees within the Lansing community," says Sharon Seabrook Russell, director of WMU's Lansing regional site, which is a University Center partner at Lansing Community College. "Courses in the graduate certificate program are offered primarily on Fridays and Saturdays, aligning with our goal to serve adult students as they juggle their busy lives."

For more information about the new program and other WMU offerings in Lansing, contact Adam Scheidt, student service coordinator for WMU-Lansing at adam.scheidt@wmich.edu or (517) 483-9728.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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