Coaching in addiction recovery: Why – How – How much? THE INTERVIEW

What can and should you expect from an addiction recovery coach? We answer your FAQs with recovery coach, Laurie Fear, in this exclusive interview here!

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Are you in the market for a recovery coach? Or are you exploring this option in a job/career change? Here, we learn more about what recovery coaches do, how much services typically cost, and what training is best.

We’ve asked a recovery coach!

In this exclusive interview, we speak with Laurie Fear, BA-Psych, MBA, PCC. Laurie has been helping people cope with the disease of addiction as a coach. In fact, she helps her clients move through important decision-making processes with heart-centered purpose. Laurie specializes in recovery-based coaching for people seeking all aspects of well-being, such as:

  • balance
  • clarity
  • focus
  • fulfillment
  • health
  • serenity
  • success

Today, she’ll help us answer questions like:

  • What is the profile of a person who might need a recovery coach?
  • What is the cost of having a recovery coach?
  • Where you find recovery coaches?

Helping people with addiction gain new life skills and vision for their lives can be rewarding! You’ll also find additional information about the goals of coaching in addiction recovery and best training practices. Read the full interview here.

At the end, if you still have questions about coaching in addiction recovery, we invite you to send us a question in the comments form. In fact, we try to respond to all questions personally and promptly.

ADDICTION BLOG: What is recovery coaching?

LAURIE FEAR: In its most simplified form, recovery coaching is the collaborative work done between a professional recovery coach and their client to take the client from where they are now to where they want to be.

Clients who hire a recovery coach usually are seeking relief from their addictions, or are seeking to enter into recovery, or want to enhance their recovery, always looking for a safer, more balanced, happier life. Coaches help clients sustain positive life changes. Coaching can be done:

  • over the telephone
  • in person
  • by Skype or Facetime
  • …all locally or long distance.

ADDICTION BLOG: What do recovery coaches do?

LAURIE FEAR: Recovery coaches use their training to listen intuitively to their client’s stated needs, wants ,and dreams. Then, they reflect back what they hear, and ask open-ended and powerful questions. The client sets the agenda for coaching, and develops their own goals with the coach’s co-creative guidance. The coach holds the client creative and accountable for their goals.

Recovery coaches are trained in the evidence-based methods to facilitate lasting change, such as:

  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Transtheoretical Behavior Change Model
  • Mindfulness Practices

… and the neurobiological processes involved. The coach may also provide targeted recovery-oriented resources or ideas that support addiction recovery for the client’s own pursuit of topics of their interest.

ADDICTION BLOG: What is the end goal of the coaching process? At which point do you see people prepared enough to face their lives standing on their own feet?

LAURIE FEAR: The end goal of the coaching process is set by the client, so the end goals are different for every client, just as the pathways to recovery are different for every person in recovery.

Recovery coaching is not addiction treatment, therapy, counseling, or 12-Step sponsorship. Recovery coaches work in partnership with the client and believe that the client is the expert on their own life. The coach is trained to assist the client in mining their own wisdom for the best next steps towards a healthy and thriving life in recovery.

Research and experience have shown that sustained change takes time and practice, and therefore most coaches work with clients in 3-month blocks, meeting once a week or once every other week for sessions ranging from 30 minutes to an hour each. The total length of the relationship depends on what the client wants to accomplish and at what pace they are comfortable moving forward. The client determines when they are ready to stand on their own feet in recovery.

ADDICTION BLOG: Do you prefer working with individuals or in a group setting? Why? Which do you find is more effective for people in recovery?

LAURIE FEAR: First, my own personal philosophy for recovery is that, “We need all the help we can get!” so I would encourage people in recovery to work with an individual coach and also to participate in group coaching, if possible.

I enjoy coaching both individuals and groups. With individual coaching, the client can go deeper into their own personal agenda and develop a focused, symbiotic, trusting relationship with their coach. The dynamic in group coaching widens out to incorporate different perspectives and experiences, may allow for richer creative brainstorming, and can provide added support from others in recovery.

Each method brings its own benefits to clients. Group coaching tends to be less expensive per session as the cost is spread out over more attendees, but there is less focus on each individual agenda as well.

ADDICTION BLOG: What kind of training is required to become a coach in addiction recovery?

LAURIE FEAR: At this time in the history of the coaching profession, there are no specific legal requirements for becoming a coach. Anyone can “hang out a shingle” and call themselves a coach.

However, in order to be an effective, respectable and successful coach, I highly recommend coach certification training. For prospective clients, I highly recommend researching your coach’s training credentials and background.

The coaching industry is self-governing. There are several coaching schools which specialize in recovery coach training. The programs vary widely in cost, content, prerequisites, and time commitment. Aspiring recovery coaches should do their research and choose the program that works best for their circumstances.

My training began with an International Coach Federation (ICF) affiliated Life Coach training. From my own personal research, I feel that ICF has the highest ethical standards, most thorough core competencies, and most comprehensive support for its members worldwide, but there are many other tracks and other associations all searchable on the internet.

I also highly recommend visiting the Recovery Coaches International. RCI is a pioneering nonprofit association which is working to define and standardize what it means to be a recovery coach, while also embracing the diversity of its members. Currently, the majority of professional recovery coaches are in recovery themselves and have some work experience in addiction counseling or therapy in their background. RCI also recognizes Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialists as essential members of the RCI community network. For prospective clients, RCI has a “Find A Coach” member directory where you can look for a coach who meets your requirements.

ADDICTION BLOG: Who needs a recovery coach?

LAURIE FEAR: Anyone who identifies as being in recovery or wants to explore whether recovery is right for them, and who wants to make positive, healthy changes in their life. Recovery coaching is present-moment-and-future-oriented, so the client should be ready to move forward to explore and experiment with new ways to live life.

ADDICTION BLOG: How do you find a good recovery coach?

LAURIE FEAR: As I mentioned, RCI has a “Find A Coach” member directory and that’s a good place to start at Most recovery coaching schools have directories of their graduates as well. An internet search will provide many alternatives. Personally, I’m also listed as a coach in the Psychology Today Therapist Directory which can be searched by location.

Most good coaches offer a free consultation session to determine whether or not the coach and client are well-suited to working together. A good recovery coach will screen clients for serious mental health and past trauma issues better served by a therapist and will make appropriate referrals. Asking for the coach’s training credentials and work experience is highly recommended. A good recovery coach will also have a thorough knowledge of the science behind the disease of addiction and will not promote any one specific pathway to recovery.

ADDICTION BLOG: Where do recovery coaches work?

LAURIE FEAR: Recovery coaches work in many different settings. Many are private practitioners who work from home or may have a private office location. Some offer individual and group services at:

  • addiction treatment facilities
  • health centers
  • hospitals
  • community recovery organizations

… as independent contractors. Peer Recovery Support Specialists, who may or may not have coach training, work primarily as employees of treatment centers, health facilities, and community recovery organizations.

ADDICTION BLOG: How much do recovery coaches typically charge? How is this paid?

LAURIE FEAR: This varies considerably. Private practice coaches will often provide packages of services with 3, 6 or 9 months of sessions for an all-inclusive price. The package may include targeted resources, unlimited email and/or texting contact during the package timeframe. Packages generally vary from several hundred to several thousand dollars paid out-of-pocket. The cost will vary considerably based on the coach’s:

  • depth of experience
  • services provided
  • reputation for success

At this time, insurance does not cover coaching services. The services of a Peer Recovery Support Specialist may be covered by a client’s health insurance if the services are associated with the client’s addiction treatment through a licensed facility.

ADDICTION BLOG: What are some “near future” goals for the addiction recovery coaching industry? How might this niche change in the next 5-10 years?

LAURIE FEAR: The recovery coaching industry will be moving toward standardization of education, certification and services. However, there are so many exciting changes happening in both the addiction treatment industry and the coaching industry that the recovery coaching arena will probably remain fluid and open to incorporating whatever new opportunities arise.

Over the past several years, the addiction treatment industry has embraced a Recovery-Oriented System of Care model which recognizes aftercare as essential relapse prevention for clients suffering from the disease of addiction. However, recovery coaching is a relatively new and growing niche in the coaching industry. Recovery coaching targeted niches are emerging in family recovery, yoga-aligned recovery, mindfulness-based recovery coaching, as well as a combination of intervention specialist/recovery coach to provide continuity of services to clients.

Further, the coaching industry as a whole is working to develop published and peer-reviewed research on evidence-based methods of coaching which can be used for all types of coaching.

Acceptance of recovery coaching by the insurance industry as viable relapse prevention in order to provide coverage of client costs is a possibility for the future.

Future goals for the recovery coaching industry are to provide more standardized requirements for training and certification while maintaining flexibility for the unlimited pathways to long-term recovery.

ADDICTION BLOG: Do you have anything else to add for our readers?

LAURIE FEAR: Recovery coaching is a challenging and rewarding career path which could potentially someday help to revolutionize the success levels for persons in long-term addiction recovery. The practice of Recovery Coaching is not a substitute or alternative to addiction treatment, but a recovery coach can assist their client in choosing appropriate treatment and/or therapy and help them to follow through with getting the help they need. Recovery Coaches help their clients to thrive in recovery, not just survive in recovery.

About the Interviewee: Laurie Fear is a Nationally Certified Recovery Coach, Certified Life Coach, and Wellcoaches® trained Health & Wellness Coach with five years in private practice. She is involved in recovery advocacy work, previously worked as an addictions counselor in a medication-assisted treatment clinic for five years, and recently celebrated 13 years of continuous personal recovery. Laurie’s approach is holistic, integrating wellness and mindfulness practices into her recovery coaching. She is the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Recovery Coaches International, which is a volunteer position. In 2015, Laurie also completed training to become a certified Yoga of Recovery® Counselor and certified Dancing Mindfulness Facilitator. Check out Laurie’s Facebook page: Full Circle Recovery Cafe.
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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