Better than a snazzy pair of glasses or magenta hair dye, recovery is by far the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m always thrilled when I get the chance to share what I learned, experienced, and do to keep my recovery strong, so I figured I’d get into recovery coaching.
Since I’ve been in recovery myself since 1999, all I had to do was add the “recovery coach” title to my business card and go on my merry way, right?
Not so fast.
When I started researching everything involved with recovery coaching, I realized it would take more than long-term sobriety and an additional title on my business card to make the cut.
Based on the training program I underwent with IAPRC, it would take 80 hours of in-depth recovery coach training, 20 hours of life coach training, ongoing enthusiasm, and a firm commitment to uphold professional coaching standards to be qualified to actually do what recovery coaches are meant to do.
And what is that, you ask? The short-answer definition goes something like this:
Recovery coaches help people go from struggling with addiction to establishing an action plan for strengthening recovery, preventing relapse, changing “stinking thinking” and enhancing their lives.
But they can also do so much more.
What a recovery coach can do for you
Recovery coaches can help you do amazing things, although it’s always YOU! taking all the action. Coaches can provide the tools, worksheets, information, resources and encouragement, but you’re the main star of your own life and recovery show.
A coach can help you:
- Map out a solid recovery plan moving forward
- Identify relapse dangers and triggers
- Eliminate, avoid or find new ways to deal with those relapse dangers and triggers
- Pinpoint what mental health pros call “cognitive distortions,” which is known in recovery circles as “stinking thinking”
- Retrain your brain to get out of that stinking thinking (good one!)
- Deal with anger in constructive ways (really good one!)
- Practice forgiveness
And those are just a few of the many, many ways recovery coaching can help you find effective solutions to the pile of stuff that gets in the way of a life packed with happiness and serenity.
Who recovery coaching can help
You can benefit from recovery coaching if you’re:
- Fresh out of an addiction treatment center or rehab and want to establish a solid plan for moving forward.
- Already in long-term recovery and want additional fulfillment beyond what your current program gives you.
- A family member or friend of someone in recovery, with coaching able to help you better understand addiction and deepen the relationship.
- One of many adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) or adult children of dysfunctional families, with the chance to take a deeper look into dysfunctional family dynamics and breaking the cycle.
- Want to reduce or limit your drinking before it crosses the line into full-blown addiction.
What a recovery coach is not
The coaching relationship is unique, since you are totally at the helm. In that sense, a recovery coach is not:
- A therapist or mental health professional trained to assess, and treat mental health issues
- Rather than evaluating or treating mental health and addiction issues by diving into the past or fixing what’s wrong, recovery coaches focus on the future while focusing on what’s right.
- A counselor or other behavioral health consultant, hired to provide expert advice
- Rather than telling you what to do, recovery coaching lets you create your own path, focusing on strategies you know will work for you (although you can get helpful input as desired).
- A 12-step sponsor dedicated to guiding you through a 12-step recovery program
- Instead of walking you through the 12 steps or a specified recovery program, recovery coaches provide a wide range of recovery options and tools you can choose to land on what’s right for you (and yes, the 12 steps can definitely be part of your coaching if you wish, although a coach and sponsor still have distinctly different roles).
All that said, you can see why becoming certified as a professional recovery coach take much more than putting down the Budweiser and putting a title on a business card. Being in recovery is definitely a plus, but it’s not the end-all for all that’s required to truly help others start a new way of life.