Boundaries and Ethics – A must!

Greetings and Happy Monday!
I’m very fortunate to have trained my new Boundaries training at a center last Friday. I was humbled to work with such a dedicated group of folks passionate about helping others. Despite their immeasurable passion they were experiencing serious struggles around boundary management. Caught between wanting to help so bad and not knowing what the CRSW Code of Ethics is lies enormous gray area, that even with the best of intentions can lead to unintended harm.

How many of you have read the CRSW Code of Ethics in the State of NH 500 Rules? Because when I go out into the field I see a lot of confusion and ethical boundary crossings and violations.

When you signed your application to become a CRSW, there’s one tiny little question reads, “Do you agree to abide by the ethical standards set forth in ALC 500? I’m guessing you checked off yes. Are you? Have you ever read them? How about your supervisors or managers, do they know what they read? Are you seeing potential boundary violations or unethical practices daily. How do you handle those? If you have not read the 500 rules, I strongly suggest you do that pronto, because if you are a CRSW you agreed to abide by them.

Working in the HUMAN SERVICE Field is a calling and an honor, not to be taking lightly. There are clear rules and guidelines that were established long before this day, These rules span decades, even centuries. Please learn your ethical principles and rules.
Please reach out to me, or the licensing board, if you have any questions.
If you want to make a difference in other people’s lives, your life has to be on track first.
Stay motivated and passionate.
Ginger Ross, CRSW
 Visit the CRSW link on this website to read the 500 rules and what you agreed to when you submitted your application for CRSW or LADC/MLADC.

Recovery coaching: A unique and powerful partnership

When you’re taking on the difficult task of bringing the disease of addiction into remission—commonly referred to as recovery—it’s helpful to have someone who understands what it was like to live with this disease. A Recovery Coach (RC) does just that. Here at the Massachusetts Helpline, we’ve been privileged to get to know Alex Fidalgo, a Recovery Coach supervisor and trainer who works in Springfield and Worcester. We recently talked in depth with him about recovery coaching and how he approaches his work.

In recovery himself for years, Alex fell in love with recovery coaching early on after attending the Recovery Coach Academy when he moved to Massachusetts from Florida. “Recovery coaching gives people options and treats people as resources. They are the experts in their own lives—it is a unique partnership,” he shared in our conversation.

A Recovery Coach works one-on-one with a person in early recovery (the “Recoveree”) to provide support, education, and tools to live the life they desire. “I put tools in front of them, remove barriers with them, work on today and what they want to do in the future,” he says. Central to the relationship is the peer perspective: because Alex is in recovery himself, he can relate to what his Recoveree has gone through. A collaboration and partnership is created, and together they define what the Recoveree’s recovery will look like.

When working with someone new, Alex focuses on relationship-building and creating trust through conversation and shared experience. The relationship is vital, as it’s through these conversations that the coaching happens. Early in the process, he develops a wellness plan and sets realistic goals with his Recoveree. A RC typically works with someone once or twice per week over the course of six months. “I am not going to be there with them forever,” he says. A plan needs to be in place to make sure the Recoveree’s goals are met.

Removing barriers is critical to the work. RC’s help their Recoveree identify the barriers that are holding them back and help them work around and through anything blocking their path to a happy life in recovery. Although RC’s can help navigate state systems and structures, the Recoveree leads the process. For example, the RC will go to court or an appointment with someone if they are nervous, but it is up to the Recoveree to do the rest of the footwork.

In his work, Alex sees the person he’s working with as “full of resources” and helps his Recoverees identify their internal strengths and assets. He lets them know that he believes in them. He says that he aims to “draw from their power and help them realize, ‘I can do that!’ Then I help them get there.” Sometimes people new in recovery need to address issues of trauma and past abuse. In this case, “I identify and listen closely to what they need and connect them to needed resources.”

Alex is clear that it’s not all about overcoming barriers, however. It is also about identifying what makes life worth living and getting supports in place to get there: “People who enjoy life are more likely to stay in recovery—I help them discover what that is for them. Recovery coaching gives people options.”

After working for years as a RC himself, Alex now trains others to become Recovery Coaches and Recovery Coach supervisors in MA. He’s currently working to diversify the pool of available coaches so that there are relatable coaches for everyone. Recently he watched people he coached just a few years ago now becoming his colleagues as they graduated from the Recovery Coach Academy. It was incredibly powerful for him to see this transformation. The non-clinical, judgment-free peer support of recovery coaching is extraordinary and creates a space for people to flourish. Alex feels privileged to witness this growth over and over.

Recovery Coaches are available statewide. They work in the emergency department of some hospitals, in many community health centers, and Peer Recovery Support Centers, and are also found through ATRMulticultural Wellness Center, and other locations. There are vouchers available to receive coaching and MassHealth often covers the cost. Contact our Helpline specialists at 800.327.5050 to get connected to a Recovery Coach today.

The Impact of Language – Stigma, Policy & Practice

The Impact of Language on Behavioral Health

Stigma, Policy and Practice

By Robert Ashford

The language used to discuss and describe mental health and substance use has changed dramatically over the last 100 years. Modern and postmodern society has transcended labels such as teetotaler, derelict, crazy, and psycho, though iterations of these negatively associated phrases remain. Changing linguistic trends within the mental health and substance use disorder fields have been propelled forward by the inclusion of concepts such as person-first language; first by mental health advocates, and later co-opted by advocates within the substance use disorder space. Similarly, medical professionals are driving change towards the use of more clinically appropriate language (e.g. substance use disorders, rather than substance dependence and abuse), which is having both positive and negative impacts.

Download the full White Paper at Recovery Language

What does your recovery look like to you?

This is a question we need to be approaching all of our clients with first and foremost. Posing this question allows us to understand them better, identify where they’re at, and demonstrate genuine curiosity and commitment to the person as an individual. Isn’t that what we’re striving for as coaches?

When a person thinks of the word recovery, to each of us the word brings a different meaning; a different outlook. As a society, while treatment certainly has its place and helps initiate recovery, treatment alone does not sustain recovery. With the shortage of “beds” and insurance coverage, we in the recovery coaching community would best serve others by soliciting from our recoverees what recovery looks like from their lens. Maybe they’re horrified by the word; maybe they’re having a hard time with acceptance; maybe we need to remove that barrier before we can proceed with forward movement?

As Phil Valentine suggest in his blog post, by soliciting the information from the individual we’re meeting them where they are at and not imposing societal expectations, beliefs, or judgements on them; we’re creating a relationship of trust (a friend).


To read Phil Valentines’ blog post click here.

Recovery Coach Training reaches beyond the surface

My volunteer work with the Pregnancy Resource Center has brought some clients in need of more than just pregnancy, parenting issues. I am so blessed to have had the training this past winter/spring giving me better insight in how to be a resource, encourager.

God has blessed us all with love and your continued training and support.

God’s grace and blessings, as always –