Recovery Coaching

by Dr. Ken Buckle

Here are some of the basic points and highlights based on what I learned in San Antonio last month.  If you think you may qualify and would like to support someone else’s recovery (and your own) by volunteering as a Recovery Coach, contact me by phone or email about becoming trained.  If we have enough individuals express interest, we will organize a class.

  • Federal Initiative:  SAMHSA is pushing the idea of Recovery Coaching in order to increase access to services by filling gaps in the continuum of care;  grants have been extended to state health departments to encourage training and implementation;  this summer the Texas DSHS trained 80 trainers of Recovery Coaches;  these trained Recovery Coaches in Texas are expected to “work” under the supervision of a sponsored organization;  Medicaid in Texas may offer in the future, some reimbursement for Recovery Coaching services
  •  History:  Peer supports have been encouraged in community mental health for over 10 years; more recently the concept has been extended to recovery from substance addictions
  • Definition:  the Recovery Coach is a person who has experienced addiction and is actively and successfully (evidenced by years of sobriety) working a recovery program, and is willing to walk the road of recovery with the addict who still suffers;  the role of the Recovery Coach shares some overlap with other common and traditional roles in the recovery spectrum (12-step sponsor, professional therapist, case manager), but has its own distinct function; the Recovery Coach does not push a person to any one particular type of recovery path, but rather informs and supports the choice of the addict who still suffers.
  • Non-Professional:  there is a strong desire by the recovery community to keep the status of the Recovery Coach as a “non-professional,” i.e. “peer to peer;” the Texas DSHS offers and supports a 46 hour training for Recovery Coaches (with a certificate of completion) but does not manage any certification process at this time; Recovery Coaches may be reimbursed for expenses by the sponsoring organization, but are largely in a volunteer role similar to the 12-step sponsor; there is a “danger” of Recovery Coaches going it alone for profit or for other personal reasons
  • State of Evolution:  the concept of the Recovery Coach is new and still evolving;  there are successful models (e.g. Connecticut) and experts (e.g. William White) guiding the movement, but there is some desire to allow local communities to “figure it out” at a grassroots level so that it will work based on their own local needs