Tips for Coaching Recovery Virtually

Amid COVID19 stress, opportunity knocks.  Have you answered?  Personally, I’m learning during this time; one lesson in particular surprised me.

Some coaches are fantastic online. Prior to the pandemic, I wondered if recovery coaching could be performed with excellence in the virtual world.  The answer? An emphatic yes!

What makes recovery coaches thrive in an online practice? I compiled a checklist of some factors. I’m also interested in what you’ve learned.

  1. Welcome people with a smile. Nothing says “I’m glad to see you” more than a smile. Amy Albanese, CCAR Special Events Coordinator told me recently a tip she learned while working in radio. Before she answers the phone she physically smiles, physically smiles. I hear it in her voice every time she picks up a call. I can feel it. So can you.
  2. Understand your virtual presence. If your interactions are “call only” then pay attention to your attitude and tone. The best coaches use videoconferencing on a variety of platforms.
    1. Dress appropriately; dress for work. Don’t hang out in pajama bottoms and t-shirts.
    2. When on webcam, pay attention to the background behind you. First, check to make sure nothing behind will embarrass you. Next, is your setting appealing to the viewer?
    3. Can the viewer see your face? Don’t be a mysterious silhouette. Shine some light on that face of yours. And I’m not a fan of the glaring overhead light.
    4. Be careful about monitor light, it can turn you blue.
    5. If at all possible, remove eyewear. The reflection can be distracting.
    6. Finally look directly into the webcam, not the person on your monitor.
  3. Be optimistic. No matter how you may be feeling, your role conveys a hopeful approach to recovery. Be careful not to let negativity creep into your sessions.
  4. Be enthusiastic. Your attitude is contagious, and enthusiasm rules the day.
  5. Be curious. Nothing indicates genuine interest more than curiosity.
  6. Ask incredible questions. Online recovery coaching offers a remarkable platform for practicing your art of questioning.
  7. Pay attention. Avoid distractions. Are you coaching from a place where you can focus?
  8. Be patient. The internet is a fickle thing. Connections are not always reliable. Can anyone vouch for that experience? So…go with the flow.
  9. Be resource-full. To be successful in the digital world, the best recovery coaches know how to connect others digitally. While you’re at it, expand your knowledge on multiple pathways and how to access a variety of recovery support meetings virtually.

I’m sure other learnings will unfold as the recovery community marches vigorously into the digital world.  Let’s continue to share.

phil valentineIn 2015, I finished a thruhike of the entire Appalachian Trail, a trek of 2,189.2 miles. It took 189 days and 6 pairs of boots.  During that sacred time, my purpose in life became more precisely defined.  I am, simply, to coach recovery.  Recovery saved me from an early demise and brought purpose to my tattered life.  I have learned that I’m a coach to my very core. I am blessed to put the two together. I started work at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) in January 1999.  I became the Executive Director of this recovery community organization in 2004.  I have trained the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© dozens of times and have a hand in modifying, improving and adapting various recovery coach curricula.  I’m old enough now to start considering my legacy. This is one way for me to share lessons learned in my recovery, in my role as Executive Director and a trainer. When I engage with others, I present the same messages repeatedly.  It’s time to write them down. 

Phil “Right Click” Valentine
Recovery established 12.28.87

4 thoughts on “Tips for Coaching Recovery Virtually”

  1. Thank you Phil, as usual good practical tips and very insightful. Appreciate the guidance.

  2. Chris S., Impact Marketing Strategies

    Now that we all have been forced into a fully digital world during this pandemic, work, education and socializing have been converted to countless zoom room sessions. These are some great ideas not only for coaching recovery, but for conducting ourselves “virtually” as we forced to do today. I am impressed!

  3. Betsy McCormack

    Hi Phil

    Did you read Into the Woods? It’s a laugh out loud book about a fat boy who starts to hike the AT. I need that laughter today.

    I want to work as a Recovery Coach in Maryland and just signed up for the October 5 virtual coach recovery academy. I’m an ICF ACC — International Coach Federation Associate Certified Coach — hoping the October training goes forward! Until then I’m looking for volunteer training opportunities. 30 years sober in AA — 6 mos abstinent in OA. I’ll poke around on the CCAR website
    and if you know of virtual volunteer training opportunities for recovery coaches I would very much appreciate a link.

    That’s a lot of miles …

    Betsy M

  4. i would like to be a part of this and become a recovery coach, i already attended classes in the past through CCAR in Bridgeport. I am in a place in my life to begin where i left off and complete my goal i so very desire of becoming a recovery coach to gain employment and help others in this struggle i fight every day of my life. I look foward to hearing from you soon.

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