By Leslie Clark, PRCC Executive Director
What is a peer recovery coach? A peer recovery coach occupies a unique role in a recoveree’s personal journey. They offer coaching at every recovery community center in Maine, as well as increasingly in treatment centers, outpatient clinics and corrections facilities.
Since 2018 Portland Recovery Community Center (PRCC) has trained 292 peer recovery coaches through the recovery hub, using a certified curriculum developed by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR). Completion of the 30-hour training is required to become a peer recovery coach in Maine.
Recovery coaches support multiple recovery pathways, meet people where they are, and help them set their own goals for their lives.
The CCAR recovery coach academy covers a range of topics and includes information and tools, as well as opportunities to examine one’s own attitudes and beliefs to be sure that each person is recognized as an “expert in their own lives” and as their own greatest resource in their recovery.
Topics covered include:
Guiding principles of recovery – Foundational to coaching is that recovery is self-directed, strengths-based, empowering, optimistic, and holistic.
Active listening – One of the most important skills that a recovery coach needs to possess, the art of listening gives the recoveree the gift of a compassionate witness to their story.
Crisis intervention – Recovery coaches learn to define what is a crisis and how to help.
Stigma – A recovery coach needs to understand the impact of stigma and labels, and change language and attitudes, so that recoverees are empowered rather than disempowered. By simply changing the words we use, we can help dispel shame, build self-esteem, and end discrimination.
Motivational interviewing – Recovery coaches utilize motivational interviewing and facilitate the recovery process by asking good questions so that people are making changes they choose for themselves.
Stages of Change and Stages of Recovery – Change takes time and there are predictable stages to change. There are also stages of recovery, each with its own tasks and rewards. Recovery coaches understand that change is a process and support each person’s unique journey over time.
Multiple pathways of recovery – Many people are aware of the recovery path that worked for them, but may not be aware of the multitude of options and pathways. Recovery coaches respect and honor multiple pathways. In the recovery coach academy they learn about the variety of programs and activities both nationally and locally.
Ethics – Recovery coaching may be provided by volunteers or by paid staff coaches, but all recovery coaches should follow the code of ethics set forth, have regular supervision, continuing education and conduct themselves with the highest standard of integrity.
Power and Privilege and Cultural Sensitivity – Recovery coaches are committed to learning and recognizing issues of power and privilege, especially related to race, ethnicity, gender and class. By examining our own behaviors, attitudes, and policies we can become effective advocates for social justice.
Wellness planning – Recovery coaches help recoverees build their own personal recovery capital, which encompasses all the resources needed to live a full and happy life. Using a holistic approach, recovery coaches help recoverees identify the areas where they want to build more capital and grow. Some examples of these might be areas such as relationships, housing, work, spirituality, and health.
Peer recovery coaching is free of charge and available throughout Maine. Anyone who is seeking to initiate or sustain their recovery is welcome. To find a recovery coach near you, or to become a recovery coach, visit www.portlandrecovery.org or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Journey Magazine. Reprinted with permission.