Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Brubaker’s Online Counseling Program

Michael D. Brubaker is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Counseling Program in the School of Human Services in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services at the University of Cincinnati (UC).

As one of the nation’s leading scholars on mental health and substance abuse counseling, Dr. Brubaker presents to international, national and regional audiences. His work has appeared in Journal of Addictions and Offender Counseling, Journal of Counselor Leadership & Advocacy, Journal of Drug Education and Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, to name a few.

We recently caught up with Dr. Brubaker to learn more about his background and his work with UC Online’s Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Q: What is your educational background?

I grew up in North Carolina, receiving my BS in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina. After a career change, I completed a Master’s in Divinity from Emory University and began working for a faith-based recovery center in Atlanta, GA.

I became certified as an Addictions Counselor and then went back to school for my Master’s in Professional Counseling at Georgia State — and then my doctorate in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Florida.

Q: Why did you choose to teach at University of Cincinnati’s School of Human Services?

I was impressed with the faculty who were committed to multicultural and social justice concerns and was excited about the opportunity to grow our Substance Abuse Counseling program into a nationally recognized training program. It was also important for me to be at a top research institution, serving on the cutting edge of addiction prevention, treatment and recovery science.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching here?

The students. In every class I teach, I see highly motivated, creative and passionate students ready to develop their knowledge and skills to make a difference in the community. Substance use disorders affect everyone, and the few who are called to serve can step into the gap to help another person or their family get to a better day.


“Our students care about people who are affected by substance use disorders … We all just want to help.”
– Dr. Michael Brubaker


Q: What is the biggest challenge today for substance abuse counselors?

Self-care. We are emerging from the worst pandemic in more than a century, and mental health and substance use disorders have grown and will persist for years to come. We can be affected by stress, burnout, loss of family members and simply not taking care of ourselves. Recovery and self-care practices need to be emphasized as much for the caregivers as the ones providing it.

Q: What motivates students to seek a BS in Substance Abuse Counseling?

What a great question! At the heart of it, our students care about other people who are affected by substance use disorders. Many are in recovery or have a family member with a substance use disorder. Others have been touched by the overwhelming need in our society and recognize the pain and suffering inflicted by the “disease” of addiction — or however you prefer to conceptualize it. We all just want to help.

Q: What stands out to you about our online Substance Abuse Counseling degree?

Students in our program are immersed in the knowledge and experiences needed to be effective as a substance abuse counselor. Many programs offer the minimum hours to meet their state licensure or certification, but we go well beyond this minimum standard, helping our students dive deep into the causes and evidence-based approaches to addictive disorders. Our instructors include expert practitioners and scholars from a wide range of professions who break down the science into real-world application.

Q: What’s a current research project you’re most excited about?

One that has interested me lately is a project I lead on the use of mobile health (smartphone) applications in treatment. We are studying the barriers and facilitators for using these apps and exploring how practitioners can make them more accessible for clients of all backgrounds. We need to understand the strengths of these technologies while also understanding their limitations.

Q: What do you hope your students learn from you?

My hope is they will learn what it means to be a competent substance abuse counselor, understanding they bring many strengths to the table and also how they can grow into respected professionals.

Get to know one of our graduates from the Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Q: What’s a piece of advice you’d give to your students?

Invest in yourself and your professional development. The extra effort you put into your development will pay off for your clients.

Q: What did it mean to you to be honored with UC’s 2020 Faculty Excellence Award?

This was quite an honor, indeed. I was one of two faculty in our college recognized by the Provost and Office of Research for outstanding teaching, research or service. This award helped me see how our program is being recognized and its many gains through the years.

Q: What hobbies and activities do you enjoy outside the classroom?

Living in Cincinnati, I love going to a good Reds game (or even a bad one on occasion), riding my bike or kayaking on the Little Miami River. Mostly, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, connections I value more than ever.

Explore UCO’s Substance Abuse Counseling Degree

Our Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling program is ranked as a top online program by BestColleges.com and U.S. News & World Report. Your studies can be completed fully online in two years, if you attend full time, and there is no on-campus attendance requirement. (A part-time study schedule is available, too.)

Contact an Enrollment Services Advisor to learn more about this leading program and our commitment to online education for the modern student.

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