Day One of the Recovery Coach Academy where “Transformed People… …Transform People”
I asked upfront for permission to share what I learned at this training! I was delighted to get a green light “Sharing the message without sharing the messenger” is okay!!! So here is my feeble attempt to do just that!!!
I was honored to share my first day’s training experience with about nine females and four males! If I had to say one thing that we all had in common it would be that we all wanted – to make a positive difference!
What we learned – We learned what recovery means and that to coach is not to counsel or sponsor. As a group we defined what creating a safe space looks like and the importance of creating a safe space – especially since we will be together for a week! We learned the stretch rule! If we are generally talkers we agree to stretch ourselves and talk less and if we are observers we agree to stretch ourselves out by speaking out more!!! And finally intimacy – into me you see – so what get’s said here stays here!
Individual exercise – we listed our name, how we identify, hobbies, accomplishments, goals and dreams. List out the groups we are connected with then create a pie chart that reflects importance! For me it is my workaholic nature followed by attending trainings, then mom, grandma… We were then asked to share then exchange with our partner in the training!
What followed was so difficult! We were asked to cross out two of the other person’s groups on their pie chart!!! Yikes, that was so hard for me that I didn’t even have time to rationalize why I crossed out the two biggest part of my partner’s parts! It felt horrible – however the presenter’s were amazing to explain – how many times have patients come in with a list of what they want to focus on and we – with our counselor agenda’s dismiss and prioritize according to what needs to be addressed because of a funding source requirements or perhaps because we think we know best. I had to admit I was so guilty!!!
If we have a musician who plays primarily in bars we ask them to stop that for obvious reasons we have just impacted a huge part of their life. If a person wants to talk about pain and all we can think of is that we need to address the triggers we are missing an opportunity to engage a person fully and get the buy in that is so necessary for sustained/recovery!
The question becomes “How do we support without denying their values – what’s important to them?”
Option – “How can I support you keeping this role in your life without it affecting your recovery?” “What can I do to support your recovery today?”
Another big one was “STAY IN YOUR LANE!” Don’t try to be a doctor or a nurse. The presenter acknowledged that we are well versed in our lane – but he added “I’m asking you to change lanes.”
We studied how clients can be treated like objects, recipients or resources and what each looks like! We also covered the importance of nonverbal communication that a leader puts out is equally vital to a client’s sense of safety. We need to check our body language. When we were asked to cross out two of the other participant’s list we treated them like objects.
A presenter who works with Access to Recovery shared that when he began to ask clients “What do you need?” “They were dumfounded.” Starbucks was used as an example of getting consumer’s to come back because they ask what we want and they ask us our name. Some counselor’s or supervisors want it done their way regardless the outcome. Some sponsors are very rigid. Good sponsors are very directive. When you get pulled over by a cop they are a very top down system – the cop will not ask you what you need! “If I went to boot camp and said I don’t want to be treated like an object that would not go so well for me.” If a child is running out into the street we will treat them like an object as we pull them out of harm’s way. There are situations that require us to direct others. Certified Recovery Mentors is not one of them!
Options – “What can I do for you?” The client who is not used to it may ask “what’s your angle?” Get to know the client as a person. Could I treat my client as a resource and not defy my agency?
Another new way of viewing this role is that it is more of a peer to peer approach. The presented added that he did not want us to divorce ourselves from ourselves instead look at the value of a shared experience! The term “Recoveree” was used to describe our clients and an ideal situation is to have enough Certified Recovery Mentors to go around.
In the Grapevine Article 30th Anniversary of the NA it was noted “over a million people who crossed our threshold. What are we doing for the 600,000 that did not stay?” The solution may be “to meet people where they are at.”
We learned so much more than this – however due to time constraints I will complete this post with a story about a man and his son. This gentleman gave permission to share this story based on true events!
“My son was the greatest teacher I have ever had!” The son IQ tested and scored off the scale but he always hated school. If he liked the teacher and she treated him with respect he would get A’s. If he didn’t he would get a D. 125 colleges and universities offer an Adam Scholar. This means that no matter how you are doing in school if you have a certain level on your SAT you are eligible for the Adam Scholar. This means you can get into any public university in Massachusetts for free. “My son was eligible.” In his senior year in high school on the 13th of December this gentleman’s son quit school and took a car that was not his. He went and lived with a woman that he met on line.
As this man shared his story he shared the pain that they went through – “my wife cried every day” and so did he so they got into therapy. She needed to deal with her sense of loss and he needed to deal with his rage. At the time she was also undergoing radiation treatment for cancer. She certainly needed to have a stress free life. “How am I not supposed to be angry?” shared the man. They figured out that there is more than one way to deal with stress. The next day then went out and bought a hot tub – Plan B! Time passed and they found themselves crying daily again so they went back to therapy.
The therapist shared one thing – “If you ever want to be happy again (that opening got them to truly listen) then with love and compassion and whatever resources you have to share with your son you need to give them to him without any expectations, accepted, received, or appreciation. They began to practice this.
Eight years later the son got his GED, was gainfully employed, buying a home and he married the woman that he met and treats her with dignity and respect. Everyone in the family except for the son turned out to be a teacher. When the son exclaimed “I’m the only one who is not a teacher” the man responded “You are the best teacher I have ever had!”
It turned out the son arrived to his own goal only the journey did not look like what his father had envisioned for him. That is what being a Certified Recovery Mentor is like. We meet the client where they are at!
This approach is definitely a harm reduction model! Like Mindful Smoking©! For people who currently smoke, have the desire to quit but not in the next 30 days!!! I am so looking forward to tomorrow’s training and learning from all of the trainers and participants!!!
My Grace Filled Life after Addiction is palpable as we are showered with useful tools to meet individuals where they are at!!!
I am so grateful!
Guadalupe Aragón, BA, CADC1
Certified Transformative Life Coach
President Chemical Dependency Training Consortium of the Northwest