When a person goes through a major change in their life, they may seek unbiased, outside help and guidance. Life coaches have become increasingly popular over the last several years, as more people turn from their intimate social network and instead seek accountability, resource management, and a discerning eye from a trained professional.
How a Life Coach Can Help
- Help with developing personal goals
- Career guidance
- Assistance coping with relationship changes
- Help with keeping a budget and managing finances
- Guidance on eating healthier food
- Encouragement to maintain exercise regimens
- Assistance with punctuality
- Guidance on stress management techniques
- Guidance on stress management techniques
- Personalized attention
- Help identifying personal strengths
What Is a Life Coach?
Although there are no specific education requirements to become a life coach, most people who enter the field have a combination of education and experience in fields like social work, case management, spiritual direction, psychotherapy, nutrition, and personal fitness training. Life coaches help their clients focus on goals like weight loss or job transition as well as other lifestyle improvements.
When working to overcome addiction, many people may not immediately think of working with a life coach. However, this type of personal accountability, support, and goal planning can be very beneficial to those who have gone through detox and addiction treatment and want continuing support to maintain their sobriety and health.
Recovery and Sobriety Coaches
A subcategory of life coaching that is becoming more popular is recovery coaching, sometimes also called sobriety coaching. People who work in this field specifically focus on individuals who are overcoming addiction and continuing their journey through recovery. Recovery coaches may be in recovery from addiction themselves, although they are further along that path; or, they could be social workers, case managers, psychotherapists, or addiction specialists who want to work more closely with individual clients.
People working to overcome addiction and maintain sobriety need help focusing on lifestyle changes, including finding work, getting job retraining, securing housing, attending support groups, finding sober social groups, and much more. For some people, daily activities like eating breakfast and avoiding certain neighborhoods require outside accountability and support. Support groups can often provide accountability, especially sponsors in 12-Step-based programs. However, a life coach specializing in addiction recovery can also be a great benefit to this aspect of recovery.
The Benefits of a Life Coach for Recovery
Some of the benefits of working with a life coach include:
- Help with developing personal goals: Personal goals are impacted by job and career, family life, social life, and financial security. Longer-term goals for life can be vague at times, and they may include better physical health, emotional satisfaction, and overall security. Once these goals are established, a life coach can help the client pinpoint smaller lifestyle changes they can make, in a step-by-step plan, to reach these long-term goals.
- Career guidance: People who have completed detox and a rehabilitation program have spent several months of their life focusing on understanding their addiction and moving away from intoxicating substances. Many people who struggle with addiction may have been fired from their job or quit because substance abuse took over their lives. Others may have dropped out of school. A life coach can help a person coming out of rehabilitation define what they want to do with their new, sober lives. They may assists clients with editing their resume and cover letter, exploring continuing education opportunities, finding job retraining, and identifying programs specifically geared toward helping those in recovery find meaningful work. A life coach will also help the person discover their skills and passions, which can focus their search for employment.
- Assistance coping with relationship changes: People who struggle with addiction have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships. Friends and family may cut the person off, for the benefit of their own mental health, or they could experience violence in some form, as the struggling individual lashes out. When a person goes through recovery, they work to rebuild relationships with friends and family, and they also develop social ties with others going through recovery. Unfortunately, some relationships may take longer to heal or may not be changeable. A life coach can guide a person by holding them accountable for what they learned in treatment. They can also help the client through difficult life changes, such as divorce.
- Help with keeping a budget and managing finances: Life coaches often work with people on building businesses, changing spending habits, getting out of debt, and asking for a raise. People who are working to overcome addiction may need the same type of financial help but with the added context of avoiding triggers related to spending and deprivation. A monthly budget can help keep a person from falling into other compulsive behaviors, such as online shopping or eating, because they can clearly see where they spend their money. They can also focus on saving for something to reward themselves, such as a nice dinner or vacation.
- Guidance on eating healthier food: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that two-thirds of American adults are overweight, obese, or severely obese. This indicates, in part, that adults in the United States do not know how to eat healthy, low-calorie, high-nutrient foods. A life coach with a background in personal nutrition can go with their client to the grocery store and restaurants to help guide shopping. They can train their client to better understand nutrition information, and to keep a diary of food consumed or calories eaten in a day. Eating healthy is not just about losing weight, but also about helping the brain and organ systems function properly. This can be especially important for people recovering from addiction since substance abuse can lead to malnourishment.
- Encouragement to maintain exercise regimens: According to Mayo Clinic, a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training is the best way to maintain physical health. Recommended levels are 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. Regular exercise helps to maintain weight, but more importantly, it improves heart strength, lung function, hormone regulation, and neurotransmitter production. For people who are recovering from addiction, regular exercise can improve systems that may have been harmed by drugs.
- Assistance with punctuality: Everyone is late at some point due to traffic, an accident, or simple forgetfulness. A life coach can help people who struggle with keeping deadlines to manage their time. Keeping a calendar, setting reminders, writing notes, and working with someone to hold them accountable are ways to improve time management. Developing a routine that does not involve substance abuse is especially important for people who are bridging the gap between a rehabilitation program and living a normal life.
- Guidance on stress management techniques: Stress is one of the leading triggers linked to substance abuse. Chronic stress from family history, domestic violence or intimate partner abuse, anxiety, depression, or grief can lead to addiction. A life coach can help a client with mindfulness techniques, finding a therapist or yoga practitioner, and even finding simple ways to enjoy life that do not involve intoxicating substances. Self-care and stress management are crucial when a person is leaving a rehabilitation program because they may be worried about triggers in their regular life, about relapsing and what that means, about cravings and avoiding substances, and much more.
- Personalized attention: Medical research shows that no single treatment program is the magic cure to overcome addiction; there is, in fact, no cure for addiction. The work is a lifelong process, with many steps. The more different, personalized types of treatment available, the better overall outcomes are for the whole community. Not every person transitioning out of a rehabilitation program will benefit from a life coach, but many people work well with the individualized attention available from this source.
- Help identifying personal strengths: Life coaches do not simply praise clients; they learn about each person’s hopes, dreams, and fears in detail in order to understand the individual’s strengths. This helps the life coach build a plan and keep the specific client focused. One of the most important duties of a life coach is to help clients see these strengths for themselves.