- David Marion
Sponsor or Recovery Coach: Choosing the Right Recovery Partner
Trying to decide what would be best—a sponsor or a recovery coach? Choosing the right one at the right time can be crucial in an individual’s recovery. Learning more about each of these key people, however, can help make the right decision.
Addiction is complex and multifaceted. And so is recovery. As one writer put it, there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to recovery. In fact, it’s downright challenging—no matter the substance being used.
So, it’s not surprising when addicts ask for additional support. But, where can they turn for this extra support? Do they need to work with a sponsor? Or, do they need to work with a recovery coach? And what’s the difference?
Sponsor: Mentor and Guide
Sponsors aren’t recovery coaches. In fact, they’re very different. Sponsors are in a service relationship with the recovering individual, not a professional one.
Sponsors support individuals working through a 12-step program—which provides guidelines for the best way to recover.
They help newcomers learn about the program, how it works, what they can expect, and what the expectations are.
Below are some services a sponsor provides:
Offer a willing ear to listen when the newcomer needs to talk
Give encouragement and advice on resisting temptation
Assists the addict in accomplishing the 12 steps
Offers suggestions, encouragement, and help in monitoring progress
Shares life experiences with the addict, being more experienced with the program
Shows up to meetings with his or her sponsee
Does not impose personal views or opinions on a sponsee
Put simply, sponsors are mentors and guides in recovery for more than a year and have worked through the steps themselves. They also don’t charge fees. Sometimes, they become close friends with the sponsee.
Recovery Coach: Helps with Goals for Recovery
Recovery coaching role is a relatively new concept in the professional recovery community. Coaches don't represent any 12-step programs like sponsors. Actually, recovery coaches don't promote or endorse any programs or methods of attaining or maintaining sobriety.
Instead, recovery coaches help addicts with achieving goals specific to recovery and sobriety. They work with recovering individuals to help them develop and follow structured recovery plans. They also can provide a link between sponsors and professional counselors.
Below are some services recovery coaches provide:
Act as liaisons for clients to help them access a variety of community services
Monitor a client’s goals from pre-recovery to active recovery
Encourage recovery individuals to come up with self-powered solutions
Help individuals focus on the present so he or she can move forward
Provides accountability on an agreed upon action
Accelerates the client's progress in recovery by providing greater focus and awareness of choices, activities, and responsibilities.
Recovery coaches often charge fees. During meetings, they let the individuals choose the focus of conversation, while the coach listens and contributes observations and questions for action.
Counselor: Treats Underlying Causes of Addiction
Professional counselors or therapists are a third support option for recovering individuals. Paid clinical resource people, counselors treat mental illness and emotional disorders.
Sometimes, it’s necessary for long-term sobriety for recovering individuals to take on the underlying issues that triggered the person’s addiction.
Issues like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder can be overwhelming. Counselors help clients resolve a recovering individual’s underlying causes and address his or her addiction issues.
Defeating substance abuse is a challenge. Often, recovering individuals realize they need more support to achieve success. Working with a sponsor and recovery coach can help.
Knowing which one is right for the recovering individual is the key.