Date of Conferral
Empathy is one of the most important skills a mental health counselor can have. For instance, empathy plays a key role in retention and engagement in therapy for substance use disorder (SUD), which leads to improved client outcomes. Historically, SUD treatment has been provided by those in recovery with little formal education about counseling. Currently, academic requirements for SUD counselors vary, and most master's level education programs rarely address SUDs. To determine whether SUD experience alone is related to empathy, a 2x2 factorial ANOVA was used in this study to examine the relationship between two independent variables (education status and recovery status) against the dependent variable of empathy for 607 SUD counselors. Findings showed that recovery status was not indicative of SUD counselor empathy, and graduate level education was associated with empathy in SUD counselors. As the epidemic of addiction continues to grow, having a competent workforce of licensed/credentialed SUD counselors is imperative, and this research shows that having a master's degree in counseling may influence empathy in SUD counselors. Thus, the results of this research have the potential to shape licensure/credentialing processes for those seeking a career in the SUD field and improve outcomes for individuals with a SUD.