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Addiction Studies - Aboriginal Focus Certificate

(formerly Aboriginal Addictions Services Counselling Certificate)

Students in this 8-month full-time certificate program will learn to support Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals, families and communities in identifying and managing addictions through prevention and treatment programs. Students will acquire the multilevel intervention skills necessary to support dysfunctional behaviours of addictions.

Addictions Workers and Counsellors often work in community social services, children and youth services, justice system institutions, community Aboriginal services, and emergency shelters.

The program includes 9 courses and 2 community practicums. Program delivery is classroom-based with a focus on group discussions and learner participation, and classes are generally scheduled between 8 am and 5 pm from Monday to Friday. Practicums are offered with community agencies.

Interested in advancing even further in Addictions Studies? Bow Valley College also offers a two-year diploma program.

The program is open to everyone; the content includes Aboriginal history and culture, and the needs of Aboriginal communities, as well as other populations with addictions.

Students registered in the traditional full-time Addictions Studies – Aboriginal Focus Certificate program are required to write the Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) assessment in semester one.

Instructor Bios

Addiction Studies: Aboriginal Focus instructor biographies

Need more info?

Please contact Prospective Student Centre: 403-410-1402

Courses in Program

Curriculum Subject to Change

Semester 1

ENGL1201 - English: Composition (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners will explore various genres of English composition. This course is not remedial; competency in high-school grammar and composition is required.
Prerequisites: None

ADDC1101 - Introduction to Addictions Studies (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course will increase learners' awareness and understanding of the theories, practical skills, and broader issues that guide the work of addictions workers. Learners will be invited to reflect on their beliefs and values to develop a professional practice that draws on and respects the richness and depth of Canada's multicultural society. Participants will begin to explore various types of addictions and their impact on the addiction field.  The course will demonstrate the breadth and diversity of addictions treatment theory, and how this is expressed in practice in the current world of addiction treatment. 
Prerequisites: None

COMM1101 - Interpersonal Relationships and Communication Skills (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners develop strategies necessary for effective and accurate communication in relationships with others, within a variety of contexts. They explore theories and concepts of interpersonal communication and reflect on their own values, beliefs, attitudes, and experiences. Emphasis is placed on self-awareness, cultural diversity in communication, and conflict management. In addition, it focuses on the development of personal strengths and self-awareness that contribute to the development of communication skills and positive relationships.
Prerequisites: None

HMSV1102 - Aboriginal History, Identity and Culture (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course is an overview of Canada's First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.  Historical and current issues are covered, including languages, stories of origin, different band treaties, and current issues of ownership over land, water and governance. 
Prerequisites: None

HMSV1501 - Introduction to Counselling (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course introduces learners to basic counselling skills. As such, it is designed to help learners develop essential helping skills needed for client engagement, follow-through, completion and overall therapeutic effectiveness. Specific skills and techniques covered include; developing rapport, building empathy and listening, encouraging trust, self-disclosure, immediacy, questioning and evoking, addressing discrepancies, etc. It will also take a look at the theories behind effective techniques such as motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy, person centered and solution focus therapies. This course is highly experiential in its format. Learners will participate in classroom exercises, role playing and receiving feedback from Instructors and peers.
Prerequisites: None

ADDC1998 - Introduction to Cross Cultural Communications in Community Agencies (3 credits, 105 hours)

The course introduces the competency profile from the Canadian Addictions Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF) that defines the future scope of practice for the addiction professionals. Professionalism is a major consideration throughout the course. In addition, learners are introduced to variety of roles in addiction services as well as a range of community agencies. 
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: 6 credits of AASC/AASD program

Semester 2

COMM1105 - Cross-Cultural Communication and Interpersonal Relationships (3 credits, 45 hours)

Effective communication within and between varying cultural groups requires a deep understanding of behaviours and beliefs in relation to cultural identity. Using a culturally relevant perspective, learners will learn to apply self-understanding of their own behaviours in concert with communication theory and relevant techniques.
Prerequisites: COMM1101

ADDC1999 - Community Agency Addictions Counselling (6 credits, 180 hours)

This practicum provides learners with an introduction to the application of the Canadian Addictions Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF) competency profile. Learners are hosted in community and agency settings supervised by agency staff. Learners take observer roles and may be asked to practice under supervision. Emphasis falls on establishing a rapport with individuals and professionals. A thread that runs through the placement experience is the incorporation of cultural competence of diverse and Indigenous populations.
Prerequisites: ADDC1998
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: 12 credits of AASC/AASD program

ADDC1301 - Physiology and Processes of Addictions (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course takes an in-depth look at substances and their impact on body, mind, and behaviour. Learners begin with an introduction to how the relevant body systems work, and then address substances by category and by individual drug to understand their history, appeal, risks, and impact. Emphasis is given to processes of dependence and withdrawal. With knowledge of addiction physiology, support workers have insight into the mechanisms of craving, and are able to promote more effective physical and mental recovery.
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: None

HMSV1502 - Counselling II: Individuals and Groups (3 credits, 45 hours)

This is an advanced course in interviewing, support skills, and theory where learners gain a practical grasp of the therapeutic models in addiction treatment through extensive role playing. Training focuses on enhancing technique and on the skills of working with individuals in groups.
Prerequisites: HMSV1501

HMSV2501 - Social Policy (3 credits, 45 hours) [Online Only]

This course is designed to help learners become critically aware of the economic, social, and political environment within which they will eventually work.  It will examine the process by which health, social policy, and justice policy, is developed in Canada and encourages reflection upon the ways social policy impacts our lives.
Prerequisites: None

Admission Requirements

Academic Requirements

  • Credit in English 30-1 or 65% in English 30-2 or equivalent


  • Successful completion of the General Educational Development test (GED) test with a minimum score in the following sections:
    • Writing Skills: 520 minimum standard score
    • Interpreting Literature and Art: 520 minimum standard score


  • Satisfactory results on the BVC Admissions Test

Pre-Practicum Requirement

  • A current Police Information Check (PIC) with a Vulnerable Sector Search (VSS) must be submitted prior to practicum placements. The existence of a criminal record may postpone or prevent clinical, practicum, or field work placements and, subsequently, successful completion of the program.
English Language Proficiency Requirements