Recovery Coaching is a form of strengths-based support for persons with addictions or in recovery from alcohol, other drugs, codependency, or other addictive behaviors. Recovery Coaches work with persons with active addictions as well as persons already in recovery. Recovery Coaches are helpful for making decisions about what to do with your life and the part your addiction or recovery plays. Recovery Coaches help clients find ways to stop addiction (abstinence), or reduce harm associated with addictive behaviors. Recovery Coaches can help a client find resources for harm reduction, detox, treatment, family support and education, local or online support groups; or help a client create a change plan to recover on their own.
Recovery Coaches do not offer primary treatment for addiction, do not diagnose, and are not associated with any particular method or means of recovery. Recovery Coaches support any positive change, helping persons coming home from treatment to avoid relapse, build community support for recovery, or work on life goals not related to addiction such as relationships, work, education etc. Recovery Coaching is action oriented with an emphasis on improving present life and reaching goals for the future.
Recovery Coaching is unlike most therapy because coaches do not address the past, do not work to heal trauma, and there is little emphasis on feelings. Recovery Coaches are unlike licensed addiction counselors in that coaches are non-clinical and do not diagnose or treat addiction or any mental health issues.
Relationship to life coaching
Similar to life and business coaching, Recovery Coaching use a partnership model wherein the client is considered to be the expert on his or her life, the one to decides what is worth doing, and the coach provides expertise in supporting successful change. Recovery Coaching focuses on achieving any goals important to the client not just recovery-related goals. The coach asks questions and offers reflections to help the client reach clarity and decide what steps to take. Recovery Coaching emphasizes honoring values and making principle-based decisions, creating a clear plan of action, and using current strengths to reach future goals. The coach provides accountability to help the client stay on track.
Other similar terms
The moniker "recovery coach" is used for a variety specific addiction support roles. The main distinction is between the professional life Recovery Coach and the nonprofessional Peer Recovery Support Specialist. Recovery support roles include the following:
Sober Escort-a paid travel companion or travel escort that accompanies a client to an event, to treatment, to court and insures sobriety.
Sober companion or Sober Coach. A Sober Companion works full-time with the client: full work days, nights, weekends or extended periods where the coach is by the client s side 24 hours a day.
Peer support specialist (RSS)- a Peer Recovery Support Specialist (P-RSS) is a non-clinical person who meets with clients in a community-based recovery center, or goes off sight to visit a client. The recovery support specialist ensures there is a contract for engagement, called a personal recovery plan. A key component of the Recovery Management model is a personal recovery plan. Recovery Support Specialists (RSS) are sometimes called "recovery coaches" but that term has been dropped by William L. White in favor of of "Recovery Support Specialist" to avoid confusion with the professional life Recovery Coach associated with the ICF and RCI.
Brief history of recovery coaching
Recovery Coaching was first developed in 2003 as a professional life-coaching niche by Alida Schuyler, a coach credentialed by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a woman in recovery from addiction. Ms. Schuyler wrote the first Recovery Coach certification training program specifically aimed at training students to coach persons with addictions. She also created the first special interest group for Recovery Coaches, and she co-founded the nonprofit Recovery Coaches International with Andrew Susskind.
William L. White used the term "recovery coach" in his 2006 paper Sponsor, Recovery Coach, Addiction Counselor but later changed adopted the term "Peer Recovery Support Specialist" to emphasize a community-based peer model of addiction support. Alida Schuyler developed a professional model of life coaching for addiction recovery by blending the Minnesota Model and Harm Reduction model with the core competencies of the International Coach Federation (ICF). Schuyler believes that Recovery Coaches need to understand Harm Reduction as well as 12-step recovery because life coaches "follow the client's agenda" for coaching goals and topics and not all are ready for abstinence.
Need for research
Though there is little available academic research on Recovery Coaching, one of the first research papers was published in 2009 and 2011 by Melissa Killeen and is housed at the University of Pennsylvania (PA) Library. It is believed that Recovery Coaching decreases stress and reduces relapse by providing ongoing support for problem-solving and reaching worthwhile goals as well as connecting with local support. Recovery Coaching helps the client develop cognitive skills in terms of considering options and consequences, making clear choices, planning and taking actions toward life and recovery goals. Recovery Coaching is currently offered by such notable 12-step treatment centers as Hazelden through their MORE program.
Recovery coaching and addiction recovery support groups
Recovery Coaches encourage (but most do not require) participation in groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon or non12-step groups such as SMART, Women for Sobriety, Life Rings, etc. Recovery Coaches do work with individuals who dislike groups to help them find their own path to recovery.
Niches within recovery coaching
There are also niches within Recovery Coaching such as food addiction, sex addiction, criminal addiction, codependency, under-earning, even coaches who specialize in such areas as recovery from divorce. Recovery Coaches start wherever the client wants to start and support all forms of progress including abstinence, moderation, or using other forms of the harm reduction model.
How recovery coaches are trained
Professional Recovery Coaches are trained in both coaching core competencies  and in addiction best practices such as Stages of Change, Motivational Interviewing, as well as Harm Reduction etc.
What recovery coaches do
Recovery Coaches support the client in achieving and maintaining a solid foundation in recovery, and building upon recovery to achieve other life goals that make recovery worthwhile. William White, preeminent scholar on addictions, worked closely with the Philadelphia community based recovery center, PRO-ACT, to prepare a document outlining the "Ethical Guidelines for the Delivery of Peer-Based Recovery Support Services", (Faces and Voices of Recovery.org, 2007). The document provides a discussion of key ethical concepts as well as reviewing the core competencies of a coach. These guidelines are the definition of coaching roles as they relate to others in the realm of personal conduct and conduct in service relationships with the community service provider or treatment team. This document presents a simple statement of core competencies (Faces and Voices of Recovery.org, 2007).