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How is Recovery Coaching different than Therapy, Counseling, or Sponsorship

Coaching is intended for those who want to reach a higher level of performance, satisfaction or learning. People who feel they've lost time to addiction are especially eager to do well and enjoy life. They make committed and enthusiastic coaching clients.

Therapy is for those who are seeking relief from emotional or psychological pain. Coaching ethics and guidelines require that if a client is primarily seeking relief from emotional or psychological pain they must to be referred to a therapist. Coaching is often used concurrently with therapy, but should not be considered a substitute for therapy.

Coaching focuses on the present and future, while therapy focuses primarily on the past. In therapy the concern is how unresolved issues are impacting the present. In coaching the question is what can be done today to move the client forward toward their goals and the realization of their vision.

Counseling refers to giving advice, which coaches rarely do. Counseling implies a “one-up” relationship where the counselor is the expert, whereas the coach is neither expert nor authority nor healer; rather, the client is the expert about his or her life. In order to be considered ready for coaching, a coaching client must be healthy and competent enough to co-create the coaching relationship while relating to the coach as a partner.

Coaching can be distinguished from counseling and many other professional relationships in that coaching is based on partnership. Counselors, doctors, and consultants have expert knowledge that they impart in the form of advice, diagnosis, or providing a solution. A coach’s job is to get the client to think! Coaches rarely give advice. They don’t diagnose. Instead, they work with you to come up with your own solutions, to make your own choices, and they support you to stay on track and take the actions that bring about transformation.

Coaches differ from personal helpers such as friends and family, because coaches don’t have a personal stake in the choices clients make. Coaches aren’t affected by what the client does or doesn’t do the way family and friends are. That means that coaches can be more objective, unbiased and impartial. Coaches work with clients just as they are in the present moment. They aren’t influenced by the client's past, and they don’t have preconceived ideas about who the client is. Coaches take their clients just as they are right now and help them find out how the client would like to be different in their life. And then they coach the client to achieve it!

*Adapted from the writings of William White

How Is a Coach Different From a Sponsor?

Sponsors come from 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and Debtor’s Anonymous.

Sponsors are not paid professionals; they benefit personally from the service they give you by staying clean and sober or abstinent themselves.

A sponsor’s job is to help their sponsee stay clean, abstinent, or sober by working through the 12 steps and using the program and fellowship effectively to stop the addictive behavior. Sponsors have a singleness of purpose—they stick with the steps and traditions. Often the focus is on cleaning up the past.

A coach isn’t limited to using the steps and traditions and coaches don’t focus on the past. Recovery Coaching is not affiliated with any 12-step program and does not promote a particular path or way to recover. However, many recovery coaches are members of 12-step programs and have both a sponsor and a coach! A coach’s job is to challenge and support their client as they make lifestyle changes and begin to have a better quality of life.

Recovery Coaches International