Professional recovery coaching is a new field where coaches attend private coaching programs and are certified by private coaching organizations, not the government. A professional recovery coach will focus on your goals and solutions, not on your history – how or why you became an addict. This may be a good option for addicts who have already been in more traditional therapy and have worked through their deeper issues, like those pertaining to childhood, family, and trauma. Professional recovery coaches can also be helpful to those who are in early stages of recovery and trying to focus on immediate goals.
Professionals are a valuable resource for recovery work:
- Licensed counselors and psychotherapists for deep, personal, relationship, and family work.
- Coaches for initial recovery and behavioral work.
- Physicians for medical issues.
- Health practitioners for nutritional, physical, spiritual, and health issues and development.
- Body workers, chiropractors, masseuses, personal trainers, and physical therapists for physical help.
The initial focus should be on your:
- Thinking and behavior
- Pressing problems
- Goal achievement
The mind has a limited amount of energy it can use at once. In early recovery, brief work may be needed to address relationship or family issues, but other core issues, no matter how troubling – like childhood, family, and trauma issues – should be addressed after you’ve stabilized your recovery so that you can focus on more immediate recovery goals.
Selecting A Professional:
Not all professionals know about effective addiction recovery, have good skills, or will work well with you. For instance, a professional with solid experience may have good skills but may not be up-to-date with current resources, which a newly trained person has learned. This can also be true of treatment program staff. Ask the person you’re considering working with about her or his addiction recovery experience and approach to working with clients. A competent professional will answer your questions thoroughly.
You want to work with someone who you respect and feel is competent. Ask a friend (minister, teacher, or another professional) for a recommendation or to help you sort out and pick the best person for you. Make a choice and then work with that person for a while.
Many addicts wonder if they should work with a male or female. The gender of a counselor shouldn’t be a big concern unless you have personal issues that make one or the other preferable.
Working With A Professional:
While it’s important to be secure with the professional you select, general anxiety and fear regarding the recovery process may cause you to feel uncomfortable at first. Give a qualified professional a fair chance, unless you have a very negative reaction. This person is supposed to be healthy and competent. If you’re truly trying your best, you should expect the professional to work with your negative attitudes, feelings, issues, and behaviors. Any feeling or topic should be acceptable, even the unusual. However, they should not tolerate dishonesty, extreme negative attitudes (as opposed to minor issues), or a half-hearted effort.
If you feel you have not gotten any real help within ten sessions, but you believe you’ve made a strong effort to be open and honest, and you’ve done what has been asked of you, then you have a valid reason to be concerned. These concerns need to be resolved. Try a few more sessions, but share your concerns with a trusted other. If you still aren’t satisfied after you’ve tried a few more sessions, find someone else to work with before ending the relationship.
All professionals must have boundaries. If you think the professional is being improper in any way, take action. It is never okay for a professional to display sexual intimacy or other boundary violations. Immediately find someone new to work with. Furthermore, the professional in question should be reported to his or her certifying organization or state licensing board.
Live within the recovery structure that you have chosen, built, and maintained.
Look at your life daily and add things you need for your recovery; subtract the things you don’t. Even if it doesn’t feel right in the beginning, do it anyway, because it’s the best thing for you.
Structure is crucial to recovery; it provides you with the constant reminders necessary to stay focused on your recovery rather than allowing you to go on autopilot and mindlessly respond to whatever comes along, such as the environmental cues that trigger your cravings. You will need to develop a personal structure that will set you up to be successful. Every day (or maybe every hour), have a healthy place to go, supportive people to see, and desirable things to do. Use your reminders to stay focused and move forward. Most successful recovering people started their recovery within the structure of an established program.
The need for extensive structure will continue for many months or even years into your recovery. If you are in a treatment program, as it approaches its end, start preparing to leave that structure and join another program and/or develop your own structure.
Consider: “In my experience, you don’t want… inadequate structure or to use your structure inconsistently.”