Recovery coaching is a form of support for individuals in addiction recovery. Recovery coaches, also known as sober coaches, work with people who are in the process of overcoming addiction and transitioning into a sober lifestyle. Recovery coaching is a relatively new approach to addiction treatment, and it is growing in popularity as a complementary service to traditional forms of addiction treatment such as 12-step programs, counseling, and group therapy.
Recovery coaching has recently emerged as an adaptation of life coaching in the field of addiction recovery. The practice follows a similar suit in terms of traditional psychotherapy and borrows many of the recovery principals and practices from psychology and life-coaching and applies them in the context of addiction recovery. The main goal of recovery coaching is to provide individuals with the tools and resources they need to achieve and maintain sobriety. Recovery coaches work one-on-one with clients to identify their unique needs and goals, and then develop a customized plan of action to help them achieve those goals. This may involve helping clients build a sober support network, develop coping skills for dealing with cravings and triggers, and setting achievable short-term and long-term goals for their recovery.
It all sounds good in theory, however, the community needs to understand a few things about Recovery Coaching before they dive into this format of recovery from addiction.
“Recovery coaches do not offer primary treatment for addiction, do not diagnose, and are not associated with any particular method or means of recovery. They support any positive change, helping persons coming home from treatment to avoid relapse, build community support for recovery, or work on life goals not related to addiction such as relationships, work, or education.”
“Recovery coaching is unlike most therapy because coaches do not address the past, do not work to heal trauma, and put little emphasis on feelings. Recovery coaches are unlike licensed addiction counsellors in that they are non-clinical and do not diagnose or treat addiction or any mental health issues.“
Many Recovery Coach “practitioners” are oftentimes simply people that enter addiction recovery themselves and then decide to take up a career in addiction treatment and sign up for a “recovery coaching course” in order to gain some form of “certified” “qualification”. This phenomenon is not entirely unique across the various spectrums of treatment in South Africa.
Recovery coaches typically have a background in addiction recovery themselves, and they may or may not have received specialized training in coaching techniques, motivational interviewing, and other approaches to addiction recovery. They may work in a variety of settings, including addiction treatment centers, sober living homes, and private practice. There is no specific standard for this adpect of addiction recovery.
The recovery coaching courses usually consist of a few days spent in a “workshop” to introduce various concepts of “evidence-based addiction recovery” and provides participants with “certification” on completion. Recovery coaches tend to skirt over the emotional core drivers of compulsive and addiction based behaviours and focus on overcoming denial and the journey of recovery ahead.
The courses themselves can cost the participant tens of thousands of Rands and the content of the courseware is generally adaptations of universal concepts of addiction recovery coupled with adapted elements of life coaching such as Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC) or life coaching.
How much does individual recovery coaching cost?
Once “qualified” the charge rates of recovery coaches are usually in the same or slightly cheaper price bracket as a registered psychologist in South Africa. Virtually anyone can call themselves a “recovery coach” and armed with information from the workshop course begin to “help clients”. The charges of recovery coaches are usually seen private care and not covered by medical aids as recovery coaching is not considered to be a formal treatment for addiction.
Recovery coaching course providers
The course providers themselves come in many formats and frequently present themselves as community-funded or internationally supported non-profit organisations. Recovery coach training operations and course participants operate in the unregulated market place in South Africa independently from the certification source. What regulation does exist is sidestepped by Recovery Coaches rephrasing terminology and ensuring that their “clients” sign pre-prepared liability waivers?
As Recovery Coaching courses do not portray themselves as “treatment providers” and frame their intent to assist people living in recovery to continue their personal life journey after formal treatment.
So should I go see a recovery coach?
Hey it’s a free country! If you think it will help you, by all means, why not? They say if you want to start dealing with an addiction problem start somewhere, anywhere. If you are not dealing with an active addiction, recovery coaching is not a bad place to get some guidance and support. Provided you have completed some form of primary care treatment (rehabilitation) and are now simply looking to establish a lifestyle based in recovery. To propose that one form of addiction recovery is in some way better than another is a shortsighted and not in tune with the dynamic needs of the individual seeking valid recovery options that suit their lifestyles.
Just as the 12 Step philosophy may suit some people and others it may not. For people that want to maintain a lifestyle in recovery and that don’t want to go to anonymous meetings, recovery coaching may be a good alternative. A number of qualified and registered psychologists even undergo Recovery Coach training and certification as a means to further their knowledge in active addiction treatment and recovery.
So recovery coaching in itself cannot simply be classified and boxed as an industry-led only by novice pseudo qualified coaches in the process of their own recovery.
The real skill comes down to the individual Recovery Coaches ability to handle their client’s life issues and work out viable solutions for them. While recovery coaching is NOT intended to be “addiction treatment” it can and should be used in the context of “recovery” in much the same way as many other alternatives to the 12 step model are touted and work for people.
The distinctions between treatment and recovery are often a very murky area, especially in the viewpoints of people with active addictions.
Many recovery coaches have been operating in actual addiction treatment and recovery for years, have in-depth knowledge and experience handling addiction cases and the certification is merely an indicator that they have formalised some of their knowledge. Then again, many have not. So it is worth doing a bit of homework on the Recovery Coach themselves before signing up.
Certainly, if recovery coaching is not helping you then change provider or change tactic or speak to a professional. The intent with recovery coaching is that it provides a high level of personalized support for individuals in addiction recovery. Recovery coaches are able to work with clients on an individual basis, tailoring their support to meet the unique needs and challenges of each client. This can be especially helpful for individuals who have tried traditional forms of addiction treatment in the past without success.
Recovery coaching can thus be an effective and valuable approach to addiction recovery that can help individuals achieve and maintain long-term sobriety as personalized support and guidance, recovery coaches can help individuals overcome the challenges of addiction and transition into a healthy, sober lifestyle. There are no means by which to gauge the life experience of a person that has suffered and practically overcome their own addiction and what value they can add in the context of becoming a coach or addiction recovery service provider.
Walk into any anonymous meeting and you could find a “sponsor” for free that could potentially support similar recovery coaching functions. It all really comes down to if the client connects with the coach and that the coach is able to lead them further down the path of their personal recovery. By the same token, your average qualified psychotherapist may not be trained or experienced enough to handle addiction treatment or recovery because addiction only forms a small aspect of their formal training and experience. The process of finding suitable people to deal with addiction is a hit and miss in the open market in South Africa which is mostly why more formalised addiction treatment facilities exist and focus on the issues surrounding addiction.
Speaking of recovery training, if you are a mental health care provider and would like to dive into understanding the most up-to-date addiction recovery methodologies, you may want to see Recovery Direct’s online treatment programme.
It’s a video course designed around understanding addiction and the personal recovery process thereafter. Essentially it is a shortcut a lot of addiction recovery research.
Please Visit The Recovery Direct Online Academy
This online program was designed with the simple goal for an easy-to-access, up-to-date, well-researched, smart method to help anyone meaningfully beat addiction forever.
The Centre focuses on applying evidence-based therapy in a multidisciplinary counselling team using registered counsellors and qualified addiction treatment therapists. The centre is based in the suburb of Randburg that provides both outpatient and inpatient residential services and a number of remote online training and counselling services.