School teaches us the fundamental skills we need before we venture out into the real world and put those skills to use, often through a process of trial and error. In the same way, drug rehab teaches recovering addicts the skills they need for lifelong sobriety before transitioning back into society.
But for addicts, trial and error can be a game with high stakes. Without adequately preparing for the day-to-day challenges of life in recovery, recovering addicts may find themselves relapsing shortly after leaving treatment.
That’s where a life coach comes in. As a complement to continuing care and relapse prevention planning, a life coach provides guidance and support with real-world application. Whereas therapists teach addicts about the disease and address the emotional and psychological issues underlying their addiction, life coaches help them develop the practical tools that will improve their daily lives.
Support for Every Challenge
Life coaches offer guidance in many aspects of addiction recovery. Jonathan Appelhans, the Life Coach at Promises drug rehab in Los Angeles, is a former substance abuse counselor, aftercare manager, military nurse (US Navy/USMC), and accomplished jack-of-all-trades. He can be found any given day helping a client prepare to speak with a professional licensing board or complete a college re-entrance interview, preparing a client to return to or even begin college or a career, working with a client on credit repair/budgeting, or accompanying a client to confront difficult situations, wherever that may take him. Whether a client is struggling with basic life skills, time management, work-life balance or career planning, Jonathan’s program is open to any client who requests practical guidance in getting their recovery off the ground.
Even when clients think they have mastered a particular skill, revisiting their experience as it pertains to life in recovery can be both eye-opening and confidence-building. For example, clients with legal issues may need help getting a job and answering interview questions with a criminal record. Even clients who have steady income and know how to create a budget may have never examined their relationship with money.
“We don’t necessarily prepare a budget for the sake of ones and zeros, but to explore the client’s attitudes surrounding money,” Jonathan explains. “Do they feel entitled to the money they get? What are they doing with their money, and why? If clients don’t have a clear and effective relationship with money, no matter how much they ever have, they almost always end up in trouble.”
As Promises life coach, Jonathan sees clients in the intensive outpatient program for individual and group sessions. Based on an initial intake session, he creates an individual service plan for each client that takes into account what the client wants or needs to achieve and lays out an action plan. If clients are struggling with a specific goal, Jonathan may coach them through it or walk them through it “in the field” – for example, taking a client to the bank to repair account status or even shopping for interview clothes.
Although simple on its face, it is quite a task to effectively and appropriately support someone in navigating through obstacles that have proven insurmountable in the past. Jonathan is there to assist every step of the way, through completion, success, and development of a new foundation of confidence and self-esteem that ultimately helps the client motivate themselves to confront and attempt old and new challenges alike, with a new attitude based on new strategies and mounting successes.
What Life Coaching Is Not
For all that life coaching provides, there are a few things that life coaching is not. Life coaching is not a replacement for addiction treatment, nor is it therapy.
“I’m not a therapist,” Jonathan clarifies. “I’m here to talk about the things the client wants to change, not how others want them to be. My goals are simple: to help clients reconnect with the great qualities that are already in them and offer unconditional support in helping them become who they really want to be.”
Life coaching is motivational in nature, but a client shouldn’t expect the life coach to do the work for them. The life coach asks the right questions and helps construct a plan, while the client sets goals and decides what’s most important to them.
“I come up with ideas with clients, not for them – from the ridiculous to the reasonable – until they find a middle ground that works for them,” says Jonathan, whose approach strikes the ideal blend between tough love and unconditional support.
Although clients often show up at Promises looking and feeling defeated, saying “I can’t” and “what’s the point,” a few weeks later they can be engaged in their recovery process and working alongside Jonathan to come up with practical solutions.
No one can anticipate or address all of the potential issues that may arise in early recovery. But with a plan in place and a coach by their side, recovering addicts can start their recovery off with a few solid successes behind them and the confidence to continue moving forward.