I am often asked, “When am I a recovery coach?” It’s a hard question to answer.
I’ve noticed the role of the recovery coach shifts based on the setting. Recovery coaches serve in many more professional settings than ever before. Because the role is expanding, many states rely on certification to assess the competence of the individual. Yet, for many, employment and certification opportunities still don’t exist. It seems there are as many barriers to becoming a coach as there are to accessing recovery. I’m left to consider some questions…
Does being employed as a recovery coach make you a recovery coach?
So, again, when are you a recovery coach?
As the creator of the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© in January 2009, we feel an obligation to share our learnings as we approach our 10-year anniversary. We had no idea back then that this curriculum would become the most widely accepted training programs for those who desire to support others in a recovery process. We are quickly approaching 30,000 individuals trained.
The 30-hour CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© provides an introduction to recovery coaching and the skills needed for success in that role. That said, recovery coaches are not completely built in 30 hours. As the training manuals states, “transformed people transform people”. Changes in attitudes, self-introspection, contemplation about approaches to recovery, thinking about recovery in general, are consistent outcomes, but no mastery, especially for a role like this, can be achieved in just 30 hours of training. The RCA initiates the process.
As the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© rose to prominence, we answered the need for supplemental training for continued professional development of recovery coaches. The definition of supplement states: something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. Our additional programs build upon the skills that participants learn in the RCA.
We found that formal ethics training for coaches and peers was clearly lacking. We found many ethics offerings in the addiction field – but there were none specifically written to address the unique role of recovery coach. The multifaceted recovery coach role generates desperately needed positive outcomes, however, if recovery coaches do not consider and practice ethical boundaries, it will lead to undesired results, for not only those served, but for the recovery coach professions and even the entire recovery community.
We developed other training programs to promote multiple pathways of professional development. Recovery Coaches could choose from a variety of offerings based on their own individual needs. With topics ranging from spirituality, to professionalism, to working in a busy emergency department, each curriculum provides an opportunity for Recovery Coaches to gain new knowledge, fine tune existing skills, while developing their personal art of recovery coaching.
So… When am I a recovery coach? I believe you are a recovery coach when you say you are…. But I also know that won’t fly. So let me be more specific. I believe you are a recovery coach when you can do these three things well:
1. Actively listen
2. Ask good questions
3. Discover and manage your own stuff.
We created the Recovery Coach Professional (RCP) designation to assess these abilities. Each applicant must have attended the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© and Ethical Considerations for Recovery Coaches© as part of the 60-hours of required training. Applicants then are interviewed. Not everyone succeeds initially. But when they don’t, we offer written feedback and more professional development based on where they are (sounds a lot like coaching, doesn’t it?).
Recovery coaching takes constant practice and skill building, a blending of the science and the continued development of our own art. I once read that you achieve mastery of a skill/role after 10,000 hours of practice. Do I consider myself a Recovery Coach? Yes! But I am also aware that it will take me a bit longer before I’ve mastered it.
Even with a proven model, expanding training opportunities and an established definition, the recovery coach role has morphed into many different roles, due to a lack of funding, and reliance on billing and documentation. If you are doing an assessment, are you a recovery coach? When will we get to a point that the spirit of the role, and its true purpose, rest on its own proven success to create opportunities for employment at a livable wage? Recovery coaches want jobs, credibility, and acceptance, but at whose expense? Do you see the ethical dilemma?
Stacy (Rosay) Charpentier began working at CCAR in 2013 as the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy (RCA) Coordinator and now serves as the Director of CCAR’s Center for Addiction Recovery Training (CART). Although she had the qualifications on paper to serve in this role, she didn’t fully realize that she had a place in the recovery community and felt like an outsider. When Stacy first attended the RCA she discovered her powerful story provides a much needed perspective on addiction and recovery from a family member’s point of view. She hopes to utilize her past experiences, along with her passion for this work, to bring professional development opportunities to people who want to help others discover that Recovery is Possible. Stacy lives in her new home in Bristol, CT with her newly blended family, which includes her husband, 2 daughters, 2 bonus daughters and a new puppy!
By Stacy Charpentier
Date Published: October 16, 2018