What kind of training do I need to be a recovery coach?


Melissa Killeen

I published my book Recovery Coaching – A Guide to Coaching People in Recovery from Addictions in 2013. Since then, recovery coach or peer recovery specialist training has become one of the fastest growing aspects of the coaching field. So what kind of training do I need to be a recovery coach?

In 2013, the organizations that offer recovery coach or peer recovery-specialist training numbered around 50. Today, the number has grown to 250. Many state certification boards have established recovery coach and peer recovery support specialist certifications.

Many of the organizations that offer addictions recovery coach training or peer recovery-support specialist training are listed on my web site: http://www.mkrecoverycoaching.com/recovery-coach-training-organizations/. For many people interested in being a recovery coach, the training costs, deciding on the best training organization and the training necessary to fulfill the certification requirements can be confusing. So I would like to attempt to clear up this confusion and will answer these questions in this post:

  • What are the guidelines I must meet to apply for recovery coaching training?
  • What kind of training do I need to be a recovery coach?

What are the guidelines to apply for recovery coaching training?

Applicants must meet the following guidelines to apply for a training course in order to be a recovery coach or a peer recovery support-specialist. These guidelines are shared by many training organizations and certification boards across the nation as a standard for what a potential recovery coach must have before applying for recovery coaching training:

  • High school diploma, GED or higher
  • Minimum of one year of direct knowledge of sponsorship and 12-step programs
  • Minimum one year of sobriety from substance use or one year sobriety in co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders (self-attestation)

What kind of training should I look for?

Certification boards require the coach to receive outside training that fulfills the requirements mandated by the state board. These requirements are often a certain amount of hours training in topics such as addiction recovery theory and models, coaching ethics, motivational interviewing, relapse prevention, nicotine cessation, suicide prevention and HIV-AIDS education. Each state and organization has different requirements. So first check with your state to ensure the course you take will be accepted by the state credentialing board.

There are trainings offered that can give a coach more information that may not be on the state certification board list, but are very helpful. The kinds of training I found helpful as a new recovery coach were: conflict management, anger management, intervention training, co-occurring disorders, behavioral addictions, the pharmacology of addiction, and psycho-pharmacology as well as knowledge about coaching families in relationships with addicted persons. There are also training organizations that offer three different levels of recovery coaching training: novice-, intermediate- and master-level coaching certificates.

The places in which you receive this training are quite diverse. In the links section of this web site, I list over 250 organizations offering recovery coach training. The courses can be online, or in a classroom. The costs for this training is diverse as well, from free (in Ohio) up to $4,000 per course. The length of the course could be three days or four months.

At no time does taking a recovery coaching course give you an immediate state certification board recovery-coaching credential. It gives you a document (called a certificate) that says you completed the training. There are many coaches who do not seek state board certification, and use this document or certificate from a training organization as adequate proof they are knowledgeable in performing the duties of a recovery coach.

There is one international credentialing organization, the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium, commonly known as the IC & RC (http://internationalcredentialing.org/) that runs many state credentialing boards and has developed an exam for a Peer Recovery (PR) Certification. The IC & RC suggests applicants check with their state credentialing board for specific test taking guidelines.

Are there any additional requirements for recovery coaching certification?

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, and the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCC AP) http://www.naadac.org/NCPRSS offer the Peer Recovery Support-Specialist Certification. Similar to the requirements of the IC & RC, the NCC AP recommends, in order to receive certification, a coach read and sign a statement on the application affirming adherence to the Peer Recovery Support-Specialist Code of Ethics. Credentialing boards require supervisors of the coaches-in-training to sign a document verifying they have supervised the coach during the period of the coach’s training. Letters of recommendation are also items required by some credentialing boards. Other state boards require a recent photograph. As always, check with the state credentialing board for specific requirements for credentialing.

Next week’s post will review what certification is required to be a peer-to-peer support-specialist working with people in mental health recovery







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