I am not an expert in the field of addiction recovery professionals. What I do I do well and believe passionately in is life coaching, and the value it has to bring to the addiction community – and vice versa.
I work with addicts in recovery, supporting them in living their life in recovery, free from active addiction. I am an addict. I have been in recovery for over 27 years. In that time, I have done a lot of personal development and therapeutic work on myself. All of this has been of enormous value and has enabled and supported me in getting me to where I am today. I have wrestled with the demons of my past and the nature of my addiction and, in doing so, developed a fascination with the human condition and what makes each of us who we are today.
I yearned to study and become a therapist but eventually decided to train as a coach. I had undervalued what I do as somehow “not as good” or as worthy as psychotherapy (and maybe I will still yet one day, embark on the process of training in that profession). However, on this journey as a coach, I have learnt and experienced the value in being coached. It is has brought a whole other dimension to the therapeutic value of all the work I have done and continue to do on myself. I learned a lot from all the personal work I have done – but I was not good at was applying that learning.
As a result, I was constantly relearning, not embedding my learning. Coaching holds us accountable to doing exactly that. Coaching has afforded me so many breakthroughs in making the changes to my thinking and behaviour that addicts in recovery are striving to do and is an integral part of the recovering process, albeit a lifelong one. I endeavour to bring all this learning to my coaching of others.
My experience, and others’, of being an addict in recovery is it takes a lot of support to keep us in recovery and on that road… truly on it. Coaching lends itself beautifully to the recovery journey, wherever you are on it. As coach, I walk alongside my clients, supporting them and loving them, championing and believing in them. Coaching is a supportive, empowering process.
For addicts to be in recovery, it is vital to live a life that is honest and true to ourselves. We need to give ourselves the optimum chance at feeling good about who we are. We aim to reduce and minimise all potential relapse material. At times, this can take an enormous amount of courage. In many ways, it is a radical act to live our life this way.
Coaches have many tools to help their clients to identify values: what is uniquely important to each of them. When we live a life honouring our values, we naturally lead a life that is authentic and fulfilling. Doing this work with a coach gives our clients a template and a mechanism towards supporting them to lead an authentic life.
As anyone with even a cursory knowledge about addiction knows, chronic low self-esteem and often cripplingly poor self-belief are major features of the illness. A coach sees their client, reflects back what they see in their client and, along with numerous other tools and tactics, aids in building their self-esteem and self-belief.
The point is the enormous value coaches already inherently have in their toolkit to be able to support anyone with an addiction in living a life free from that disorder, to be in recovery. I am passionate about dispelling the myth that addiction is a red flag in the coaching profession.
Addicts in recovery are among the most responsive and well-suited to coaching, because they already have ‘buy-in’ to want to make changes to their thinking and behaviours, to be the best they can be. As recovering addicts, we are all striving to do our best and be good people, and to live a life we can feel good and proud of. Life coaching supports this.
And to people trained in ORSC (systemic coaching), let me say that those working with addiction – with an individual or in groups, whether teams, whole companies, government bodies, families, couples – are uniquely qualified to bring exquisite awareness to these systems. Once the system has awareness, it is better placed to know how to help itself.
I am keen to bridge the gap between the two worlds of addiction recovery and coaching. We have so much to offer each other. About 75% of addicts in this country are in employment, which means they will cross paths with executive coaches, business coaches, and many other coaching niches.
As coaches, we have plenty of skills to be of use to these individuals and systems they inhabit or work within. Moreover, the addiction treatment community offers so many resources for coaches to refer said clients to. I would love to see these worlds/communities more integrated, or become familiar with each other, and to experience what each has to offer the other.