The Benefits of a Recovery Coach
Gathering additional support in the pandemic is what your recovery may need.
Posted January 22, 2021 | Reviewed by Hara Estroff Marano
A recovery coach is an individual who provides mentoring and support services to someone early in recovery from addiction or to a person who has a particular obstacle they are struggling to overcome at any point in their recovery. A recovery coach provides accountability and direction on a regular basis, usually 2-3 times a week, and will often work in conjunction with a therapist to provide added support to those who want a more robust recovery program.
How can a recovery coach help you?
Relapse is frequently part of recovery from substance abuse, but it doesn’t have to be. One goal of working with a recovery coach can be to identify relapse triggers. By recognizing common or persistent triggers, individuals are better able to prevent relapse. When relapse does occur, the accountability of working with a recovery coach may help make the relapse of shorter duration.
Not everyone who seeks help for substance abuse chooses an abstinence-based recovery plan. Harm reduction is a perfectly acceptable goal that most recovery coaches embrace. A recovery coach can help you make decisions about your recovery and health that are in line with your goals. As your experience with recovery changes, you can make adjustments with your coach to your recovery plan.
A recovery coach is someone you check in with on a regular, planned basis. This provides an important opportunity for accountability. Instead of wondering whether or not your call is wanted, if you’re some sort of “burden” for reaching out to a friend or someone in a mutual-aid program, you know that your recovery coach expects to hear from you at regularly scheduled times. Your coach will help you to check on progress toward your goals.
Honesty is the most important requisite in your relationship with your recovery coach. They won’t judge you. If you share where you are on your path and what is bothering you, and work together making adjustments to your recovery plan, you’ll have an important ally on your recovery journey.
Most recovery coaches are in recovery themselves. Many have been sober in abstinence-based programs for a minimum of five years, others much longer. A good recovery coach has probably faced many of the problems you are facing. They have dealt with troubles with employment, family, and relationships in their own lives, and have done so while remaining in recovery. They also have experience with the often-overwhelming feelings that surface in early recovery. A recovery coach can provide insight into how to address the issues we all face in life, and how to prioritize your recovery while striving for your goals.
Tools and Skills
The main work you will do with a recovery coach is to develop tools and skills that will aid you in your recovery. This work is highly individualized. Do you have trouble creating and keeping a schedule? Do you need help with self-confidence? Do you tell yourself demoralizing stories that are untrue and keep you from staying sober or reaching goals?
With your recovery coach, you will identify the main obstacles that are holding you back, either from maintaining your recovery or overcoming an obstacle that keeps you from living life in the way you want. Each of these issues is then addressed with skill building and accountability, to help you take real steps toward your goals.
Please note that recovery coaches are not therapists. A recovery coach is a mentor who can help you with practical life skills and a recovery plan. For mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or trauma, the services of a therapist in addition to a recovery coach may be in order. A therapist can provide supportive care for mental health concerns, while a recovery coach helps you implement the homework a therapist might give, as well as provide positive support for the work you do with a therapist.
Finding a Recovery Coach
There is no regulation or recognized certification for recovery coaches in the United States. Look for someone who has experience, references, and most of all, who inspires you. Rapport is probably the most important aspect of any mentoring relationship. Ask for an initial consultation to see if you “click” with your coach. Lay out your goals and see if their ideas about how to help you reach them feel good to you.
Finding the right support for your recovery program can mean the difference between struggling and thriving. A recovery coach may be an asset to help you find ease in your recovery. Consider getting all the help you need to reach your recovery goals.