Coaches and Counselors: A Team Approach

By December 4, 2019 March 27th, 2020 No Comments

How I arrived at my place in this world as a humble warrior woman is no small miracle, and largely due to the incredible patience, expertise, and guidance of numerous licensed professionals and certified coaches in the addiction and recovery world. (And of course to my incredible husband, sons, and family!)

To give credit where credit is due, over a 2 year period I worked with 4 outstanding addiction counselors, 1 helpful addiction physician, 1 effective inpatient rehab program, 1 life-changing intensive outpatient program, and 1 embracing aftercare program. I humbly bow to these incredible professionals for their care, guidance, and patience in my journey. What you offered me, and offer millions today, is in a league of its own. There are no better choices for active addiction than addiction counselors and treatment centers!

In addition, after the treatment programs, I found two excellent online recovery coaching programs through my own research, both which significantly helped advance my comfort level with sobriety. One program tackled many strategies to prevent relapse, and also provided lots of rigorous science about the corrosive effects of alcohol in the body and patterns of the addicted mind. The other program offered abundant resources including morning yoga routines, meditation, podcasts with many leaders in the field of addiction on virtually every relevant topic, and a weekly evening online call (listen only). This particular program ultimately helped me step into my transformational growth during a month long yoga retreat in India. Both coaching programs were intensely thought provoking, professional, and highly effective!

To be thorough, I also had 3 AA sponsors over a 3 year period (I wasn’t the most willing student admittedly!), finally making my way through the 12 steps, completing a “90 in 90” meaning 90 meetings in 90 days, and learning the meaning of catchy phrases like “keep coming back” and “one day at a time.” As a result, the Serenity Prayer is my daily mantra. Yes, to finally understand the peace in knowing what I can control and what I cannot.

In reflection, I interfaced with just about every form of support available to address my alcohol use disorder. I recognize the distinct value of each role and emphatically encourage you to maintain relationships with those counselors and coaches supporting your recovery. Personally, I was so motivated by my experience and felt a yearning to help others, especially women with high expectations of themselves and the drive to succeed at what they set out to accomplish. So, I became a certified professional recovery coach. Let’s explore the role of the recovery coach, the newest member of the recovery team.


Recovery coaching is a relatively new form of support for people with addictions. A certified recovery coach receives training through an ICF (international coaching federation) certified coaching program, and helps people in recovery focus on their life’s vision, identifying and creating a plan to reach their goals, and helps uncover and remove barriers for success. Often, a person in early recovery is ready to regain their life, make up for lost time, seek a higher level of performance, and truly become enthusiastic seekers of information and ideas. Having a skilled recovery coach is tremendously helpful in addressing the questions to help create the path for transformational growth towards limitless possibilities. A great recovery coach is perfect for the vulnerability inherent in early recovery as one’s life is put back together.

Distinctions between recovery coaches and addiction counselors

Counselors focus on relief of psychological and emotional pain that often co-exist with past trauma. Counselors have the education and licensure to diagnosis some mental health issues and some are able to provide medication and other behavioral health services and referrals. The idea behind therapy is to focus on past behaviors and patterns and change self-destructive habits after analysis, leading to a happier and healthier future.

Coaching focuses on the present and future, while therapy focuses primarily on the past. In therapy the concern is… how are unresolved issues 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.

Coaching ethics and guidelines require that if a client is primarily seeking relief from emotional or psychological pain, they must be referred to a therapist. Coaching is often used concurrently with therapy, but should not be considered a substitute for therapy. And, in my coaching business, I have established relationships with local therapists whom I do refer to, and vice versa.

I hope this clarifies where counselors and coaches do their best work. Conquering addiction and moving into transformational recovery requires a full team effort, with all skills, hands, and hearts ready to do their jobs. This Humble Warrior Woman is ready to join the universe of extraordinary angelic recovery professionals!

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