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A Day in the Life: Certified Behavioral Health Technician

The Certified Behavioral Health Technician or CBHT is one of the most important and frankly, underappreciated jobs in the addiction treatment industry. From a certification standpoint, it represents both an entry-level designation, but also an incredibly valuable way to gain firsthand experience into the workings of a treatment program.

CBHTs are at the front lines of treatment. They are typically the employees tasked with transporting and supervising clients when they are not actively participating in the treatment process (group therapy, individual therapy, etc.). They will ensure that all activities outside of the treatment program proceed as planned. BHTs will also assist counselors in their day-to-day clinical work with the clients. BHTs may have day or night shifts, as clients will require 24/7 monitoring.

Conflict and Aggression

CBHTs will also have to deal with conflict and, at times, aggressive behaviors. As we know, addicted individuals often suffer from mental illness concurrently. As a result, during what is a stressful and often difficult time – especially in early recovery – tempers and tensions may run high. The Certified Behavioral Health Technician will always be vigilant and ready to intervene when the situation requires it. In short, the job requires serious mental and physical demands.

Potential for Growth and Advancement

The stresses of the job mean that there is higher turnover in the ranks of CBHTs than in other addiction-related job specialties. While for some, this job may be difficult to handle, others may thrive. As a result, the possibilities for seniority and subsequent advancement are excellent. Potential career tracks for BHTs include:

  • BHT supervisor with appropriate experience
  • Addiction Counselor with appropriate experience and certification
  • Admissions
  • Utilization review – working with insurance companies for reimbursement
  • And more…

Of course, the potential for advancement largely depends on the abilities and experience of the candidate as well as the general demand for the position. In Florida, for example, where there is a shortage of qualified individuals, finding work may be quicker than in other areas of the country.

Ethical & Professional Duties

The Certified Behavioral Health Technician is part of clinical staff and thus has several duties that they must uphold. These include legal, professional and ethical considerations. CBHTs will be expected to:

  • Uphold privacy/confidentiality standards
  • Maintain proper boundaries with clients
  • Understand addiction, treatment planning and more addiction-related theory and practice
  • Maintain proper documentation
  • Pursue continuing education as outlined by their certification board
  • And more

In the end, the CBHTs job is demanding, but very rewarding. For someone looking to begin a career in addiction treatment by immersion, there are few entry level jobs that offer more than a BHT.