When Am I A Recovery Coach?

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?

Does certification?

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

9 thoughts on “When Am I A Recovery Coach?”

  1. How do I become a “certified” recovery coach? I’ve done the 30 hour training and also have taken the ethics course. Is there a certificate so as to be recognized in the field so as to obtain employment?
    Thanking you in advance and looking forward to your response.

  2. Conrad Sienkiewicz

    Staci, you are so right to bring up the Three Legged Stool when asked, “When are you a Recovery Coach?” So many of us wear so many hats – I am an employee, a spouse, a parent, a community member, a volunteer – that we sometimes realize we are acting as Recovery Coaches whenever we actively listen, ask good questions, and manage our own stuff. What I learned at RCA, I utilize EVERYWHERE!

  3. So Stacy – Great question. Out here we make it clear in our trainings that taking the RCA does not make you a recovery coach. It makes you someone who took a 5 day training on recovery coaching. We’ve trained over 1000 people and presently have 190 recovery coaches employed (mostly) or volunteering across 33 BSAS contracted programs. Only 450+ of the 100 have gone on to take Ethical Considerations, so there’s a bunch of folks out here who took the training but never went any further. What makes a recovery coach to me is doing the work; actually coaching/supporting someone into/through recovery.

  4. I went to RCA in july in Bridgeport, I believe it is the beginning of a wonderful journey and helps me get started in the right direction to help give hope to recoverees in the future. It is the beginning of a wonderful journey…I will pray to remain teachable and further my knowledge in this new and evergrowing recovery movement.

  5. Thank you for this. I just completed my 2nd RCA as I haves moved from RI to Maine and had an extended illness between recovery coaching at the Anchor Recovery Center in Pawtucket RI from 2011-2012. It was a great refresher for me, yet there is so much more to think about that is so well addressed here. Please be sure my trainer and supervisor Denise Black at Healthy Acadia in Ellsworth Maine has this information as I want to take Ethical Considerations and the further Professional Development offering.

    Leslie Miller

  6. Marguerite "Rita" Ballard

    Thank you do much for this insightful blog. It gave me an opportunity to answer that same question for myself. I have come to a conclusion that, yes, I am a recovery coach and will become more seasoned with each recoveree I am honored to be able to coach.
    As to the adequate preparation and training, I whole-heartily agree that is more to this than the RCA training. I have been attending and now co-facilitate a few of these trainings. I’m am glad that there are more offered by CART.

  7. Hi Stacy,

    I would interested in knowing if the ethics training and the RCP training is offered online? I live in West Virginia and received my RCA training from Phil Valentine through a past employer.

  8. Hi, I like your comment and raising questions of when we are a coach.
    I believe you are a coach when one begins to help those who needs help and we give it.
    We do make assessment and treat people with great respect while keeping their stuff in confidence.
    When one offers good help then we are being successful as coaches. Hopefully they take our suggestions to heart.

  9. Everyone performing the roles of a recovery coach is a recovery coach. However, at what point is one an effective recovery coach is what is of importance. Like anything else this is obtained through preparation and practice. I thought I was supervising effective recovery coaches until I recently completed the CCAR RCA, during which I quickly realized that I did not know what I did not know. I knew that all recovery coach trainings are not equal, as I completed a different brand before CCAR, but I did not realize that ones preparation for developing this craft relied so much on lived experience that was not related to addiction. Academic approaches do nothing to produce the outcomes that the CCAR experiential approach does and this is significant. I and other students of CCAR created lived experiences through the training. Learning about biases, for example, by reading about it or hearing it from a facilitators lips can have no outcome. Learning about biases by experiencing it is a safe controlled setting, as the CCAR approach enables, forces an outcome based on lived experience in many things that have nothing to do with addiction but are essential for effective coaching. The art of recovery coaching is so informed and influenced by human experiences that create empathy and CCAR RCA ensures this outcome, albeit to slightly varying degrees. But for someone concerned with placing a life into the hands of a coach, I can now be more assured that the preparation for becoming a more effective recovery coach with each hour it is performed will be informed and influenced by exposure to the critical lived experiences that coachees many depend their lives on. I will soon be assured that a common dose of clay is included in each ball of it to those that develop their art in effective recovery coaching. A CCAR RCA finally comes to South Jersey, where the substance use epidemic has ravished our lives. In the name of my baby brother Denny, I will continue

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