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Popular NECC Programs Will be Offered Weekends

Submitted by on March 31, 2017 – 5:34 pm

Brian MacKenna-Rice is coordinator of NECC’s Human Services Program, which has introduced a weekend option for the alcohol & drug counselor and community practitioner certificates.

Playing its role in the fight against the addiction epidemic, Northern Essex Community College has expanded two popular human services certificate programs to be offered on Saturdays and Sundays beginning in the fall of 2017.

“Northern Essex recognizes that alcohol and drug addiction is a major public health problem in America,” said Brian MacKenna-Rice, coordinator of NECC’s Human Services Program.

The new 10-month, three-semester Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate and the Community Support Practitioner Certificate will offer a morning and afternoon class or practicum each Saturday and Sunday for the fall and spring semesters and one morning practicum during the summer semester as well as two online courses. Classes will be offered on the Haverhill campus. Practicums will be arranged by the program coordinator.

Northern Essex will continue to offer both certificate programs during the day as well.

“There is a great need for educated, experienced clinicians to address the ongoing, growing scourge of substance use, especially the opiate and synthetic opiate crisis that is causing so much grief and loss, which affects our national health, our economy, and our family and social fabric in a very unhealthy and devastating way,” said MacKenna-Rice. “In addition, baby boomers are retiring. There is an employment void to fill.”

The weekend program was designed, in part, to accommodate individuals already working in the human services field, both entry level and higher, who have expressed interest in becoming licensed as an alcohol and drug counselor or completing the community practitioner certificates, but are constrained by work hours from attending NECC during the week, MacKenna-Rice explained.

The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling Certificate prepares individuals to work as substance abuse counselors in residential programs, shelters, correctional facilities, hospitals, outpatient programs, and sober homes.

Individuals who would prefer to help provide direct client services in residential or community-based programs will hone their skills in the Community Support Human Services Practitioner Certificate.

Social and human service assistants are listed among the fastest growing occupations in the country. After completing the community support certificate, individuals can find work in shelters for the homeless, domestic violence programs, community residences, adolescent programs, independent living and vocational programs and home support services.

Both programs include a practicum in a supervised clinical setting. This gives the student first-hand experience under supervision providing them the opportunity to grow as a professional.

There is a “misconception”, says MacKenna-Rice about the role of human services practitioners. Practitioners must observe and listen with patience, tolerance, non-judgmental-attitudes, empathy, and a willingness to build trust and rapport with the client.

“We are not fix-it people, but we are guides on the journey to health and recovery,” MacKenna-Rice said.

Since the programs require practicums, students gather experience working for potential employees and vice versa. Northern Essex has had a great deal of success placing students into practicums and there is a direct correlation between those placements and getting hired by the practicum agency, according to MacKenna-Rice.

“In a recent survey of Northern Essex human services graduates we discovered that more than 80 * are working in this field…we turn out competent, ready to work individuals,” said MacKenna-Rice.

The credits from both certificate programs can be transferred into Northern Essex Associate of Science in Human Services degree program.

For additional information on these programs contact MacKenna-Rice at