IC adds impactful behavioral health, counseling programs


Illinois College has created a behavioral health major and an alcohol and other drug counseling program for students interested in working in the high-need field of substance abuse and addiction counseling.

Students interested in counseling professions right out of college or pursuing advanced training in fields such as counseling and social work can take courses online or on campus. Illinois College is the only school within 150 miles offering an alcohol and other drug counseling program. IC prepares students to become certified counselors. The online program, additionally, is open to individuals who already have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree and would like to become certified counselors.

The program aims to support both students interested in behavioral health careers and the communities they will serve after graduation. The need for behavioral health professionals is great. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors is projected to grow 22% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. Program director Clarissa Richardson ’09 notes that, “Illinoisans are deeply affected by substance use disorders, with rural populations impacted more substantially; this program will address a crucial community need.”

Students in the behavioral health major will develop a foundation in psychology and sociology as well as basic counseling and crisis intervention skills and theory. The program will be housed in the brand new, state-of-the-art Crispin Hall opening August 2023.

The counseling program, plus supervised clinical practicum hours, will prepare students to become a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor (CADC), a certification recognized in the state of Illinois. The program is in the process of becoming accredited by Illinois Certification Board, Inc.

Students in these programs study addictive disorders and how to identify, understand, and support individuals who struggle with drug or alcohol challenges or who are in treatment or recovery. They will cover topics including historical perspectives of alcohol and other drug treatment, pharmacology, substance use disorder treatment approaches, and cultural considerations in working with individuals who struggle with drug or alcohol challenges.

For those who already have a degree and who are interested in becoming certified counselors, the concentration requires just seven classes and transfer coursework may shorten the time it takes to complete the program. The program is expected to be of interest to members of the community who already hold a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in fields like psychology, sociology, public health, social work or health sciences.

The program builds on the psychology program’s strong history of empowering students to make a difference through successful careers as counselors and researchers. After graduating from IC, Richardson earned a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Florida. She joined the faculty of the University of Idaho after completing her clinical internship, and returned to teach at her alma mater in 2021. She has worked with numerous IC students, introducing them to psychology research through collaborative projects using state-of-the-art lab equipment. 

To learn more about the program and earning your degree from Illinois College, visit

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932, the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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