Frequently Asked Questions
Are recovery coaches the same as therapists?
No, we're definitely different - but we compliment each other nicely!
As a recovery coach, my work is "forward-focused and strengths-based" ~ this means I help my clients to identify, and acknowledge, their existing strengths and values; those are then leveraged to plan and achieve recovery-oriented goals, which are ideally doable by nature of being personalized (i.e., strengths-based!). I might ask questions about a client's past, but only through the lens of teasing out their present-day strengths, and how we're going to get them where they want to be with what they have today.
Therapists, on the other hand, evaluate their clients' previous experiences, including trauma, and underlying conditions, such as anxiety or depression. A therapeutic approach to recovery involves the diagnosis and treatment of issues from the past that have caused or contributed to the circumstances of today. Therapists typically do not prescribe medication, but rather use therapeutic behavioral techniques based upon specific training programs. So, coaches and therapists alike seek to help their clients achieve healthy, forward progress in recovery; they just have different ways of getting there.
If you're in a 12-step program, you may also have a sponsor; this is someone who's worked through the 12 steps with a sponsor of their own, and will mentor and guide you as you work through the 12 steps for your own recovery. The sponsor-sponsee relationship is service-based, with no exchange of money (except maybe to pick up a friendly coffee every now and again). Once a sponsee works their steps and has some stable recovery under their belt, they may then become a sponsor to others in the program.
Can you help me get sober, or do I need to be sober already?
Yes I can help, and no you don't need to have done that early sticky part before you get to me! I do ask that you are unimpaired during actual coaching sessions. One of the first things we'll do together is establish what your definition of recovery is (it's not always abstinence, which is what most folks mean by "sobriety"), and we'll figure out where you want to be in comparison to where you are now. Then the work starts.
If this feels scary or overwhelming, please know that the coaching environment I offer is an intentionally safe space for new experiences, where you can process thoughts and emotions that you might not be used to. Through those new experiences comes practice, which brings familiarity, which becomes confidence, which encourages new experiences – which is how we build recovery!
Does working with a recovery coach mean I'm an alcoholic?
It does not. But let's back up a sec - this question assumes that “alcoholic” is an identity you must accept if you check certain boxes on a list (pssst, it's not). There are checklists that can help us think about whether our drinking is problematic, and there are other checklists of medical conditions and abnormalities that indicate problematic drinking. But there's no requirement for anyone to identify as an alcoholic if that doesn't work for them; in other words, the term “alcoholic” only carries the weight we apply to it, which makes it personal and subjective. For members of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, adopting a common identity establishes community and connection, which are essential to recovery. It's important to feel empowered in your recovery journey. You get to decide what works for you.
Can you teach me how to drink moderately?
Not in the sense of providing instruction on how to do something. But if moderate drinking is something you want to explore or work towards through coaching conversations, I can support you in that journey. We'll talk about what "moderate" drinking means to you, what that would look like in your life, how you'll know when you've been successful, and what are the specific actionable steps that will help get you there. Just like with my abstinence-based clients, I provide the same planning and accountability support for my clients whose recovery isn't framed around abstinence from a substance or activity.
What is "recovery capital"?
Recovery capital can be anything that supports your recovery journey. It might be physical objects, like the pen and journal you carry around, or personal attributes like forward-focused thinking and inspiration. Maybe it's podcasts or books, spirituality or religion. It might be physical activities like yoga or running, or community connection, like other folks in the yoga studio or running club. Maybe it's other people, like your sponsor, coach, therapist, or doctor. Maybe it's a particular medication, prescribed by your doctor. Maybe it's friends, or family, or that neighbor you like to help out because they can't move around as well as you can. Maybe it's a plan for how to protect your recovery in the event of a tragic event, or a triggering situation. Whatever works for you, is your recovery capital.
Annie Grace, This Naked Mind
“For simplicity, let’s define addiction this way: doing something on a regular basis that you do not want to be doing. Or doing something more often than you would like to be doing it, yet being unable to easily stop or cut back. Basically, it’s having two competing priorities, wanting to do more and less of something at the same time.”