Peer Support and Recovery Coaching
“Recovery Coaching, in my opinion, is the ability to be there for those who are in active use, or even in recovery, that could benefit from strength-based support as it relates to substances and everyday life. I became a recovery coach to support others who are struggling the way I was struggling and to be there for them the way someone was there for me. I believe in the guidance and support recovery coaching brings to the table and am grateful to be a part of another individual’s journey through recovery. Seeing another individual’s journey from start to finish and seeing them flourish in a program of recovery is one of the greatest forms of compensation there is. Not money, not benefits, but the ability to watch an individual obtain a new free life, connect with family and once again live in a sense of peace, serenity and happiness is by far the best payment a recovery coach can ever receive.” -Jon Egan, Peer Support Program Manager, ARCNH
WHAT IS PEER SUPPORT?
Peer Support is a service type growing in popularity in both the fields of Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health. William White is an academic who has spent a large part of his professional career developing models for peer-based recovery and gathering evidence to support Peer-Based Recovery Support Systems (PBRSS) as an effective tool in improving recovery outcomes. In one monograph on the topic of PBRS, he defined PBRS as “the process of giving and receiving non-professional, non-clinical assistance to achieve long-term recovery from severe alcohol and/or other drug-related problems. This support is provided by people who are experientially credentialed to assist others in initiating recovery, maintaining recovery, and enhancing the quality of personal and family life in long-term recovery.”
WHAT IS A RECOVERY COACH?
“A Recovery Coach promotes recovery and removes barriers and obstacles to recovery, serving as a personal guide and mentor for people seeking or already in recovery from an addiction to alcohol and or other drugs.” -CCAR (Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery)
A Recovery Coach is a non-clinical support person, who is typically living in recovery from Substance Use Disorder themselves. This experiential credential allows coaches to walk side by side with individuals seeking recovery from substance use disorders. While Recovery Coaching is a non-clinical peer-support service, that doesn’t mean that Recovery Coaches are uneducated. Education requirements of coaches vary by state and agency, but competencies often include stigma and bias related to SUD and mental health, informed referral process, professional boundary setting, ethics, motivational interviewing, suicide prevention, and HIV/AIDS prevention. In New Hampshire, many Recovery Coaches are either working towards, or already hold, a CRSW license (Certified Recovery Support Worker).
WHAT IS A RECOVERY COACHING SESSION LIKE?
Recovery coaching utilizes a self-directed approach. This means that the individual seeking services directs the conversations and ultimately the care and support they receive. A Recovery Coach helps to guide the participant through goal setting and planning, with the participant taking the lead in this process. Recovery Coaching is individualized based on the participants needs and desires, so frequency of meetings, duration of meetings and meeting location are flexible and decided upon together between the coach and participant.
During the first few sessions the coach will get to know the participant by asking questions about substance use, housing, employment, family and friends, and previous experiences with recovery. Then the coach will guide the participant through defining what recovery means to them. ARCNH believes in an all-pathways approach to recovery, understanding that not all people define recovery the same.
Once a participant is able to define what recovery means to them, they can begin working on a recovery plan with the coach. A recovery plan identifies the smaller steps the participant wishes to take in order to reach the ultimate goal of recovery as they have defined it. Often these smaller steps include referrals to other agencies for specialized support either specifically related to Substance Use Disorder, like an intensive outpatient program, or to support the participant in other areas of their wellness such as referrals to primary care physicians or housing assistance programs. A recovery plan prompts the participant to explore all categories of their wellness including physical health, housing, safety, relationships, mental health, employment, education, spirituality, legal, and finances.
The Recovery Coach and participant will work through struggles together and celebrate successes together. The relationship and goals will evolve as the participant’s recovery evolves. Most importantly, the relationship with the Recovery Coach will look like what you the participant needs it to look like; no two are the same.
WHAT DOES ALL-PATHWAYS MEAN?
An all-pathways to recovery approach recognizes that there is no one treatment modality for substance use disorder that provides recovery to all individuals. Some examples of pathways to recovery are:
- Residential inpatient treatment
- Intensive outpatient treatment
- Outpatient counseling
- 12 step mutual-aid meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous
- Secular mutual-aid meetings such as SMART Recovery and LifeRing
- Spiritual mutual-aid meetings such as Refuge Recovery and Celebrate Recovery
- Spiritual and holistic practices such as faith communities, prayer, yoga and meditation
- Medication assisted treatment and recovery such as suboxone, methadone and therapeutic cannabis programs
- Harm reduction models such as safe use and use reduction/moderation programs
This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there are hundreds of therapeutic activities that can be used to support recovery from Substance Use Disorder. Recovery Coaches are knowledgeable about the various available pathways to recovery and provide education to participants in order to help participants select for themselves the pathway or pathways they would like to utilize to reach their recovery goals.
HOW DOES RECOVERY COACHING DIFFER FROM CLINICAL COUNSELING?
Recovery Coaches are not therapists or psychiatrists. They cannot provide clinical advice or recommendations. Their guidance comes from their own lived experiences and the education they have received specialized in providing peer-support. While this means Recovery Coaching does not provide all the services that Clinical Counseling provides, it does open up different opportunities.
A Recovery Coach has the flexibility to support participants in their recovery in all facets of their life. Recovery Coaching sessions can take the form of more traditional counseling sessions at the ARCNH center, but they can also be incorporated into other activities participants do to support their recovery. For example, a Recovery Coach and participant may discuss recovery goals while hiking or enjoying a cup of coffee at a local cafe. A Recovery Coach may attend mutual-aid meetings with a participant if they desire. If a participant desires support at a doctor appointment, they may ask a Recovery Coach to attend the appointment with them. Recovery Coaching is a peer-to-peer relationship, and while Recovery Coaches have experience and training to help participants navigate recovery, they are also simply a friend in recovery.
CONNECT WITH A COACH TODAY
ARCNH believes each and every person is deserving of respect and care and we aim to provide that while we help individuals and families find the tools they need to reach their goals.
If you would like to learn more about enrolling in our Recovery Coach program please request a consultation here: www.arcnh.org/treatment
If you are interested in becoming a recovery coach, please apply here: www.arcnh.org/recovery-coachContact ARCNH
White, W. (2009). Peer-based addiction recovery support: History, theory, practice, and scientific evaluation. Chicago, IL: Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center and Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation Services.
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