Posts: December 2021 Blog

Getting your SUDP while pursuing an MSW

Written by Sydney Benton, current MSW student
December 31, 2021

There are limitless paths you can decide to pursue when entering the field of social work. One important path to consider is becoming certified in substance use disorder treatment with individuals diagnosed with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. Chances are, most, if not all, of your future clients will have been affected, either directly or indirectly, by substance use. The opioid epidemic in our country is only getting worse, and with fentanyl, a very potent and deadly opioid, being added to so many street drugs, we need co-occurring specialists now more than ever to even begin tackling the lasting effects of this crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated substance use as people have felt hopeless and out of control. No matter what field of social work you pursue, certification and continued education in substance use can make you more valuable to agencies, and your future clients.

In my second year of my Master of Social Work program I knew I wanted to gain experience working with individuals struggling with substance use. For my practicum I was placed at Therapeutic Health Services in their Eastside methadone clinic working as a Mental Health Intern. The agency offered to support me in obtaining my Substance Use Disorder Professional-Trainee (SUDP-T) certification as they see the importance of practitioners being dually trained in both fields, substance use and mental health. Most SUDP’s are not formally educated in counseling, and their knowledge mainly comes from their own personal experience with addiction, as this license only requires an associate degree. While there is value to this, it is also important that practitioners are clinically trained in cultural humility and other ethical obligations. You can apply for your SUDP-T license while still enrolled in school and can work on your hours as an intern if your placement agency will allow you to. You will have to be working under a licensed SUDP supervisor who will sign off on your hours.

Pursuing this path also allowed me the opportunity to continue working with my practicum agency from last year, You Grow Girl!, as a paid employee. Currently, I am building out a youth-focused substance use program for their community-based behavioral health program. During this time, I am able to gain hours and supervision from both agencies as I work towards both my SUDP license and my MSW degree. Seattle University also offers two electives in the MSW program focused on substance use treatment, which count towards the required coursework of the SUDP license. While you are weighing all your options and opportunities for clinical social work, don’t overlook the importance of becoming dually licensed, we need you now more than ever!

To learn more about the license requirements for an SUDP certification, please see this link