N.A.A.D.A.C. Educational Provider Program

by Guy C. Lamunyon RN, NCACII

Committee Chairman

Printed in The Counselor Magazine, 1998 (16,34)

I became active in the leadership of my state's (California) addiction counseling association in 1985. I had been a certified 'card carrying' member of C.A.A.D.A.C. since 1982. I learned from C.A.A.D.A.C.'s early leaders about the process of "Professionalizing".

I learned that Professionalizing is the process of doing what other professional groups had done to be recognized as professionals. This includes the development of state advocacy associations with a national affiliation, the adoption ethics and standards for licensing or credentialing and lobbying state bureaus for such licensure or credentialing. The development of standards usually includes educational, experiential and relicensure/recertification guidelines.

In 1985 California initiated a Provider Approval system for continuing education, similar to and modeled after provider approval systems used in other professions (nursing and medicine). This system replaced to old preapproval system which has been phased out of most professions.


The older Preapproval systems have been phased out by most professional groups due to their cumbersome nature. Under a preapproval system, an individual, group, agency or organization desiring to prepare a conference, workshop or continuing education program submits to the credentialling body well in advance with resumes of presentors, course description, objectives and course outlines. The credentialling agency then rates the educational activity for a preapproved number of credit hours. The complications of a preapproval system is long time lines required to produce an educational activity, the bulk of applications and the frustration of providers in awaiting approval prior to marketing of their activities. This slow and bulky system has been replaced in other disciplines with a Provider Approval system.

The Provider Approval system sets predetermined standards for individuals, groups, agencies and organizations that produce continuing education programs. Providers are approved on the basis that they agree contractually to comply with quality standards. Workshops are audited on a random basis and following complaints regarding specific providers. Providers are sanctioned for failure to comply with provider guidelines. In contrast to the Preapproval System, a Provider Approval system is more responsive to the providers of continuing education and provides an organized quality assurance mechanism. Provider Approval systems are currently in place in both California and Texas.

In 1989 our state credentialling board was having difficulty evaluating continuing education programs taken out of state. At that time I recommended that N.A.A.D.A.C. begin a national Provider Approval system. The purpose of this program was to initiate national standards which would be consistent from state to state.

The proposed national system would approximate the national standard setting and approval systems in operation within other professions (medicine and nursing). Both the American Medical Association and American Nursing Association had promulgated standards facilitating state-to-state reciprocity of continuing education programs (remember Professionalization - find out what the other groups do and emulate it - no need to reinvent the wheel!)

The N.A.A.D.A.C. Continuing Education Provider System got of the drawing board four years ago. At present over 200 individuals, groups agencies and organizations are approved as nationwide providers. The purpose of the provider was to set standards for counselor taking out of state training. It was also desired that the standards adopted for use by N.A.A.D.A.C. would be recognized as the standard for the addictions education industry.

Currently, many states without preapproval or provider approval systems have set the standard for use in determining acceptability of continuing education programs by demanding NAADAC Approved Providers. Other states demand NAADAC Approved Providers when their counselors go out-of-state for training. The NAADAC Certification Commission guarantees that all NAADAC Approved Providers will be accepted for renewal of NCACI and NCACII.