How to Become a Recovery Coach in California

A recovery coach or peer support specialist is a certified professional trained to be a helping hand to patients that suffer from different forms of addiction or mental challenges. They are the benefactors and key representatives enabling healing to those who need it most.

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The Role of a Recovery Coach

People who suffer from addiction usually carry with them other mental stresses. This often leads them to withdraw from their friends and family into self-isolation. During their isolation, people seek to further their addictions since they no longer have the guilt of having others around them.

Recovery is about connection. A recovery coach aids in this process by being a pillar during the early days of sobriety by leading a group of individuals to connect and plan out daily activities in a recovery plan. Within the state of California, it is permitted for a family member or friend to train to become a person’s recovery coach.

To become a recovery coach, one must have a high school diploma or equivalency (GED). They must also have work experience or volunteer experience within the field of recovery support.

Requirements for Certification

As part of the certification process to be a recovery coach, 500 hours of paid or unpaid volunteer experience must be documented. Next, the applicant must complete 25 hours of supervised work experience within the field, 100 hours of state-approved training and education, and a passing score on the IC/RC Peer recovery examination.

Training Criteria

To begin with, one must log 100 hours of formal education and training. A sample program looks as follows:

Level One:

  • Learning coping and life skills
  • Learning how to train professionally
  • Learning the difference between active and passive listening
  • How to access community support
  • How best to focus on relapse prevention
  • How to set goals
  • Pharmacology
  • Learning about street drugs
  • Nutrition focus
  • Defense and coping mechanisms
  • How to best learn withdrawal techniques
  • Legal and Ethical issues
  • Duties and responsibilities regarding the position
  • Setting goals and how best to follow through with them
  • What are the differences between recovery coaching, therapy, and sponsorship?
  • How best to overcome obstacles and barriers

Level 2

  • Helpful terminology from the DSM V
  • Terminology of Mental health
  • Understanding various learning styles and how best to motivate change
  • What are the stages of change?
  • How best to deal with criminal clientsHow best to deal with wealthy clients

An applicant also needs 46 hours of specific courses as follows:

  • Ten hours of Advocacy
  • Ten hours regarding mentoring and peer education
  • Ten hours of recovery and wellness
  • Sixteen hours of ethical conduct and responsibility

Additionally, the applicant must clock 25 hours of supervised work experience within their chosen domain. Applicants must pledge to be bound by the Certified peer recovery support specialist (CPRSS) or Certified peer recovery mentorship (CPRM) code of conduct and ethics. The applicant must also send two letters of recommendation with their complete application. One of these letters must be signed by a licensed professional. Lastly, an applicant needs to pass the IC&RC peer recovery exam.

Training to Become a Recovery Coach in California

There are many training programs available in the state of California to start you on your journey. Some of these include:

  • Simi Institute for Careers and Education

Prerequisites: None

Courses: Neuroscience of Joyful Recovery and Recovery Coach Competencies pt 1 and 2.

  • The International Association of Professional Recovery Coaches

Prerequisites: None

Courses: Neuroscience and Recovery, Addiction Roots, Alcohol and Its Effects, Recovery Coach Competencies pt. 1 and 2, Family Issues Within Recovery, Certified Professional Coach and Life Skills in Practice.

IAPRC provides three choices in how the course curriculum is presented:

The Professional Recovery Coach Credential Program (CPRC) dual program is self-paced. This is for people who wish to earn two credentials through in-depth professional recovery coach competencies.

The CPRC Single program is for people who wish to specialize in addiction recovery. This course will also aid those who wish to further their training to become a clinician. CPC life coaching essentials class is specifically geared toward life coaching. This is a building block for those who wish to start their work as a life coach or own life coaching businesses.

Differences Between a Recovery Coach and Addiction Counselor

While a recovery coach plays a vital role concerning an individual’s sobriety, it is important to note that a recovery coach is not someone who is licensed or equipped to provide psychiatric counseling. A recovery coach will meet with an individual party to initially see what the needs of the person are, as well as their goals for recovery. Based on this, the recovery coach will assess the client’s needs and whether they need a recovery coach, a sponsor, or an addiction counselor.

Duties of a Recovery Coach

A recovery coach is someone who takes the reins to be an ally and mentor on the road to recovery. In most cases, a recovery or peer coach is someone who has gone through their own journey of building mental health and recovery. They share this knowledge in hopes of mentoring a peer who needs aid and guidance. Some of the duties of a recovery coach are, but are not limited to:

  • Assisting with intake documentation
  • Scheduling regular clinical care
  • Creating and building a sense of resilience
  • Helping to set and work toward goals
  • Leading peer group meetings

Since a recovery coach is not a licensed clinical physician, at no point should a recovery coach step in for clinical care or prescribe medication. While the recovery coach may advocate for clinical care, they must seek a licensed physician to provide these resources to their peers if needed.

Professional counselors

Ethics and legal requirements bind professional counselors to help serve patients in dealing with addiction, other mental illnesses and other re-occurring disorders. A professional counselor can treat the patient’s medical and mental needs to gain psychological knowledge about why patients self-soothe and how to break them out of these habits.

Renewing Recovery Coach Certification

The certification for recovery coaches needs to be renewed bi-annually. This involves paying a fee of $65, renewing their signature on the PRS codes of conduct and passing ten hours of continued education, six of which need to be in ethics.

Is a Degree Required to Become a Recovery Coach?

It is not necessary to have a college degree to become a recovery coach in California. However, as an applicant, it is helpful to have a background in working with peers, such as leadership skills. Pursuing further training courses can help an applicant stand out within the job market by building an extensive knowledge base. For those who wish to pursue a degree, this knowledge can be applied toward a master’s or a Ph.D. for future academic study. 

Job Outlook in California

There are many facilities in which a recovery coach may be beneficial. These include but are not limited to:

  • Businesses
  • Community Outreach
  • Non-profits
  • Sober living facilities
  • Religious organizations
  • Mental health clinics
  • Government assistance programs
  • Military and Veteran’s organizations

Salaries for recovery coaches within California range from $19k-123k a year, with the national average at $50k. Currently, the job market is in need of recovery coaches in both Northern and Southern California. Recovery coaches work both full-time, part-time, and in some cases, on call as needed.

Sample Job Description

Under the supervision of a nurse practitioner and the program director, the recovery coach is responsible for providing a therapeutic atmosphere to clients through communication, leading rehabilitation groups and assisting in crisis intervention.

  • Position Requirements
    • Current positions needed: full-time and on call
    • Minimum education: High school diploma or GED
    • A current California driver’s license or state ID
    • Minimum of a year working within a psychiatric setting
    • In the absence of a year of work, further training may be applicable.
  • Role. The recovery coach engages, inspires and fosters meaningful conversations with members within recovery. The recovery coach will work with members to explore, create, and work toward their recovery goals. Recovery coaches provide a role model to help promote and reinforce a recovery culture in which each member’s voice, point of view and preferences are heard, understood, respected and put forth to treatment services. Recovery coaches will strictly adhere to the state code of ethical conduct. In addition, recovery coaches must be able to respond to critical situations with a high level of engagement and be able to de-escalate crises using skills that serve within a less restrictive environment for members experiencing an emergency.
  • Benefits
    • Paid time off (PTO) for full-time
    • Nine paid holidays and shift deferment for hourly staff
    • Free supervision, coaching, and mentorship
    • Online college tuition discount toward continuing education
    • Company scholarships
    • Medical, vision, dental, and 401k

California is an equal opportunity state covered by fair employment laws, prohibiting discrimination based on sex, race, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion or creed.

Many workplaces also make accommodations for those considered disabled or needing extra care.