From a Culture of Addiction to a Culture of Recovery

The power of any form of coaching lies in the coach’s ability to create and hold a safe space for a client to explore their ideas, needs wants and goals, in a solutions-driven, forward-focused manner.  The client is given the opportunity to build their self-esteem and confidence through being encouraged and supported to find answers to their unique life situations.  Recovery Coaching is no different in that respect.

Substance abuse and addictive behaviour disorders are issues that touch almost everyone I have met, either directly through their own personal experience or indirectly through family, friends and colleagues.  Mired in stigma, people are often afraid to reach out and seek assistance, imprisoned in their shame and guilt about how they might be judged.  Recovery Coaching is a model designed to empower such individuals, families, communities and organisations to move forward and develop a life that is productive, fulfilled and purposeful.  Due to the systemic nature of addiction, Recovery Coaching aims not only to assist the addicted individual, but to also work with those impacted by the situation.

As coaching unfolds with people, the focus of the conversation often revolves around issues such as family, relationships, career or study, and living authentically, rather than addiction.  As this niche coaching model is not meant to replace any of the other professions such as social work, counselling, therapy and inpatient treatment, it is used to help people rebuild their lives through the development of Recovery Capital, which is the unique set of internal and external resources that the client develops to support long-term recovery and wellness.

Through the session a client is asked powerful questions which gives them the opportunity to identify the available resources that they might already possess, as well as identify and focus on the development of additional resources to bring meaning and purpose back into their lives.  By growing emotional, social, mental, physical and spiritual Recovery Capital, the client is empowered to take personal responsibility for their past, so that they can begin to become accountable to themselves and others.  No two people’s resources are the same, but it essential that they are consistently topping up the Recovery Capital Bank so that it can be drawn on during challenging times, while creating a sense of achievement, fulfilment and connection in the process.

The Recovery Coach’s role is to build an accountability partnership with their client, so that he/she is given the space to uncover what is most achievable and sustainable given their personal situation.  Recovery Coaches are tasked with helping their clients shift to a solution during the course of a coaching session and series.  Developing rapport and trust with individuals and their support systems is an essential element of the coaching work, as an individual’s recovery has a rippled effect into their personal and professional lives.  The focus isn’t addiction, but recovery and how to move forward in life.  Acknowledging what has brought them to this point, but also honouring their journey moving forward, leaving behind a Culture of Addiction and moving into a Culture of Recovery.

As a Recovery Coach, it is imperative to allow the client to follow their own agenda, free of judgement, while they determine their needs, wants and values and work on plans to move into the next phase of their lives.  During the coaching series, many life and executive coaching tools are utilised to assist with planning, goal setting and problem solving, because committing to actions at the end of the session is a priority.  Developing healthy lifestyle choices is essential for those in recovery, because giving up destructive behaviours and developing new, healthy alternatives is where the majority of the coaching work lies.  As recovery and wellness grows, choice returns and the more Recovery Capital, tools and coping techniques are being developed, the more sustainable and long-lasting recovery becomes.  Spiritual principles such as honesty, willingness and openness then become the building blocks upon which recovery and wellness are built.

Because we’re all in recovery from something (not necessarily addictive substances or behaviours), engaging in coaching of any form, is a road to personal empowerment and growth.  Using models, techniques and tools that foster this is as relevant with individuals in recovery, as life or executive coaching is for others.  The agenda of a Recovery Coaching session still comes from the client, and the solutions that are arrived at are theirs alone, although sometimes the content of the session might be slightly different.  And the Recovery Coaching intervention can start at any point that a person identifies that they might require assistance around a certain behaviour.

Recovery Coaching is primarily about facilitating the shift from a Culture of Addiction where there is blame, justification and denial to a Culture of Recovery that is centred around responsibility, accountability and the practice of spiritual principles, where the victim is given the space to become the survivor.  And through this process a productive, contributory individual emerges in their own life and the lives of the people that surround them.

SELF REFLECTION ACTIVITY

So after reading this article, I’d like to invite you to spend some time thinking about which areas of your personal and professional life you might be living in a Culture of Addiction.  Do you work too hard, often at the expense of yourself and your loved ones?  Where are you blaming and justifying in your life in order to vindicate unhealthy behaviours?  Do you feel yourself playing the victim in certain situations?

Diagram Source: http://repository-intralibrary.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/

Once you have noticed where your challenges lie, think about how you can move into a Culture of Recovery by developing Recovery Capital to support you in achieving a more holistic approach to life?  The Wheel of Life is a powerful coaching tool which is used to determine which areas in life we might not be paying enough attention to.

Identify eight essential areas in your life and after reading the explanation, complete your own Wheel Of Life, and from there you will be able to get a really good idea of where you need to be developing some plans, actions and goals…and move into your personal solution using your unique set of resources to support that movement.

Life areas can include, but are not limited to some of the following:

  • Career & Business
  • Family & Friends
  • Romantic/Intimate Relationship
  • Finances
  • Spiritual Health
  • Mental/Emotional Health
  • Physical Environment
  • Fun & Recreation
  • Personal Growth
  • Health & Wellness

The Wheel of Life acts as a potential starting point in the coaching process by identifying where the client wants to work, and then focusing on the individual aspects moving forward, to create a fulfilled purposeful life of recovery and wellness.

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