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Recovery Coach Alida Schuyler

Interview with Recovery Coach Alida Schuyler

Corey: Hi! My name is Corey Quinn and I am the founder of We are a website that matches coaches with clients based on fit. I am here with Alida Schuyler. She is a professional recovery coach. She is the co-founder of the Recovery Coaches International. She is also the director of Crossroads Recovery Coaching. Welcome Alida.

Recovery Coach Alida: Welcome. Thank you for having me.

Corey: It’s great to have you here. So, can you share with us why you started Crossroads?

Recovery Coach Alida: I started Crossroads [in 1998] because once I became a coach, I would find myself in 12-step meetings and just notice that people would be having problems that they didn’t solve very quickly, and week after week, I hear the same thing and I think, “Golly, if they just had a coach, you know, we would have solved that by now.” And so, I just got convinced that there is a really good match between addiction recovery and coaching. So, I started Crossroads. I began, you know, as a personal coach and then eventually began training people to be professional recovery coaches.

Corey: Could you share a little about what Crossroads does?

Recovery Coach Alida: Well, Crossroads primarily trains people who want to be professional Recovery Coaches. There is a grass roots movement, but that’s almost all volunteer or very low pay and it’s really not very similar. But I train people who want to make their living and have a profession of being life coaches to people who are either, you know, starting to address addiction recovery, maybe they are already in recovery and they want to have a higher quality of life.

Corey: Great.

Recovery Coach Alida: Yeah.

Corey: And so, when should someone consider working with you as a recovery coach?

Recovery Coach Alida: Well, I really strongly believe that problems are easier to resolve when they are addressed early. You know, if you had diabetes, or God knows what, it is better if you deal with it sooner rather than later. So, I think that is true with drinking problems, drug problems, or you know, if there is someone in you family that you are concerned about. So, you know, I just think it is a good idea to get, you know, when you think there is a problem, it is a good time to get started.

Corey: Yeah. And who is an ideal client for you?

Recovery Coach Alida: An ideal client for me is someone who wants to explore their options and find what really works for them, because you know, there is a lot of kind of “one size fits all.” Almost everybody gets into treatment and then in an abstinence-based 12-step treatment, and that works for many people, but there are other people who it just doesn’t work for. So, I can help them sort out. You know, I’m very fond of 12 steps but I also work with controlling drinking and harm reduction and moderation. Wherever they are willing to start, I will support them to do that successfully. If it doesn’t work, we will figure out what does.

Corey: In your experience as a coach, how important is a match between a coach and a client?

Recovery Coach Alida: I don’t work with people that I don’t feel committed to supporting. You know, that is saying that I like them and I believe that I can help them. There are people that I like, but I refer to someone else because they have more expertise. I don’t work with anorexia for instance. So, it is important that the coach have the competency to be able – even though coaching is a partnership model– the coach does need to have some expertise in the topic that they are coaching on. And so, for me an ideal client is somebody who really wants to sort it out and is willing to tell me what they most prefer and care about – because it has to work for them. I mean, it can’t be me telling them what to do.

Corey: That’s right. They have to want it. They have to want to go through the process and do the work.

Recovery Coach Alida: Well, yeah they need to want. I don’t know what they need to want except maybe to stop hurting or stop suffering. That’s a good place to start. They may not be clear about what exactly they want, but we will help them figure that out over time.

Corey: Could you share with us a success story?

Recovery Coach Alida: I’d like to share two success stories because I do work with families and with the people who use drugs and alcohol. So, I wanted to start with one from the family side. I had a client who was the only person in her family who did not suffer from some form of addiction. Both her parents were heavy drinkers, sisters had drug problems and eating disorders, brothers had alcoholism, and you know, chaos. And I worked with her, you know, in part to just kind of sort some of that out, help her business do well, and over time, it was really clear that the place where you know, her suffering occurred, was in around money. She made a good living, but she spent a lot. She used credit cards. She had immense amounts of debt and it was a problem in her marriage. It was a problem for her business. So, we worked really hard on, you know, helping her

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feel like she had enough and feel safe and happy, but get a handle on how much she got to spend and to start saving and dealing with her debt. And then last year, she was able to buy a house in California, which is not an easy thing.

Corey: That’s right.

Recovery Coach Alida: And she called me up and said this wouldn’t have happened if I had not worked with her on all of those issues.

Corey: Wonderful.

Recovery Coach Alida: On the side of people who struggle with drinking and drugging, I would say one of my success stories is another young woman, that when I started with her, she had gone through treatment. She had relapsed, and I worked with her for about a year while

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she was drinking and smoking pot, which a lot of people would not do, but I did. Eventually she stopped drinking and drugging, became a member of a 12-step program and has about three years right now.

Corey: That’s wonderful.

Recovery Coach Alida: Yeah. And I could keep going on and on about her. Yeah. Yeah. So those were two [examples].

About Recovery Coach Alida Schuyler

Alida Schuyler MS, PCC, is a leading expert, trainer, speaker and consultant for Recovery Coaching worldwide. She is co-founder of Recovery Coaches International and Director of Crossroads Recovery Coaching Inc. Her company provides consulting and coaching services to select treatment centers on the cutting edge that wish to be known for protecting their clients’ investment in treatment. Alida Schuyler provides private coaching to select individuals. About her coaching she says:

My coaching reflects my vast life experience. I am in long-term addiction recovery and am a life-long learner. I studied art and psychology at Berea College, and have a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Kentucky. I also studied pre-med and enjoyed three semesters of Naturopathic medical school. I studied clinical hypnotherapy the Wellness Institute and addiction studies at a Seattle community college.

My training in life coaching came from the Academy of Coach Training (now InviteChange). I am certified by International Coaching Federation as a Professional Certified Coach and have been coaching continuously since 1997. For the last six years I have been training people to become professional Recovery Coaches.

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Recovery Coaching with Alida Schuyler

Meet Recovery Coach, Alida Schuyler:

What is your definition of a Recovery Coach?

A Recovery Coach is someone who works with clients who are in recovery or seeking recovery, and partners with them in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential while recovering from addiction.

Why would someone hire a Recovery Coach?

People hire Recovery Coaches for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:

Many people need support when they leave treatment to beat the odds of relapse. Recovery Coaches are hired by people who want support but don’t want to be told what to do. Recovery Coaches provide ongoing recovery support as long as is needed or wanted.

People often struggle to truly enjoy life in recovery. They want to figure out how to solve the problems that bug them, how to reach goals that will make them feel happy, and they know they will figure this out quicker if they have support. They want to work with someone who can help them with their whole life, including relationships and money and health and work, not just the addiction part.

Quite a few people have specific goals they want to reach—to finish their dissertation, to pass an exam, to save enough to buy a house. They hire a Recovery Coach to help them reach these goals because they want someone familiar with the patterns and struggles of addiction rather than having to explain themselves to someone who doesn’t understand the nuances of addiction and recovery.

How is Recovery Coaching different from other types of coaching?

First, it is important to distinguish between professional Recovery Coaches and the peer recovery support specialists, who sometimes also call themselves coaches. Professional Recovery Coaches have taken training in life coaching and training in addiction recovery. To hire the best coach, chose one credentialed by the International Coach Federation or by Recovery Coaches International (coming soon).

Recovery Coaching is different from other types of life coaching because recovery clients are different. People dealing with addictions experience variable self-esteem—they feel good about themselves one day and not so good the next. They experience variable confidence and motivation—jazzed one week and discouraged the next. Coaching recovery clients requires advanced coaching skills and in depth knowledge of addiction.

A Recovery Coach must have a deep respect and love for people facing addiction and a firm belief in their intrinsic strengths including resilience and creativity.

How did you become a Recovery Coach?

From the moment I heard of coaching I knew it was for me. I hired my first coach in 1997 and within a week began coaching my friends. I loved that coaching addresses the client’s whole life, from where they are now to where they want to be next. I loved that coaching is future-oriented and strengths-based rather and not about fixing the past or figuring out what is wrong with someone.

By the way, the first time I googled the term “recovery coaching” there were no hits. It didn’t exist. I knew from my own experience that coaching is extremely beneficial to people in recovery so decided to invent Recovery Coaching. I started by creating the Great Life in Recovery special interest group to find other coaches in recovery, and then co-founded Recovery Coaches International. Later I wrote the first curriculum for training people who want to become Recovery Coaches.

What is unique about your coaching practice?

I bring a wealth of life experience to my coaching. I farmed and trained horses in Kentucky, studied medicine, addiction counseling and practiced massage in Seattle; Jacque Metheany, M.Div. (deceased) trained me for five years in energy and consciousness.

I grew up in an alcoholic home, and drank for eighteen years and have almost thirty years in recovery. All of this contributes to how I listen compassionately as a coach and to the wisdom, insight, and discernment I bring to coaching.

By now I have over three hundred hours of training and education in coaching, and over two thousand hours coaching addiction recovery clients. Since 2003 I have been training others to become professional Recovery Coaches.

I coach over the phone, and offer a complementary coaching consultation to prospective clients.

Who is your ideal client?

My ideal client is someone ready to work to change his or her life for the better. I appreciate humor and intelligence but know those qualities can be masked by drug use and/or the chaos that goes with it. I always learn from my clients and have a deep respect for the process they take to recover. My ideal client is someone who wants to be healthy and happy in recovery—as they define it—and is ready to do something about it.

I work with both men and women on a variety of addiction issues (money, relationship, family, as well as alcohol and other drugs). I work with people who use the 12-steps, with those who are looking for alternative support, and with those who interested in harm reduction.

When is it time for a person to start working with a Recovery Coach?

There are several logical times for a person to start working with a professional Recovery Coach. Here are three times:

  • When you are wondering if you should do something about your drinking or drug use. This is a good time to hire a Recovery Coach because you can sort out whether you really do want to make any changes, and if you do, what sort of changes make sense to you. If you decide you want to try cutting back I’ll help you chose the safest and most effective ways before you begin. If you want to quit you we can explore the many options you have for immediate and ongoing support. Sorting this out with a coach will save you a lot of stress and money.
  • For those coming home from treatment, having a coach will help you stay in recovery and protect your investment in treatment. We will help you chose and find local recovery support that will help you avoid relapse, or come up with a plan to do it on you own. We’ll also look at what will make staying in recovery worth it for you.
  • When you have time in recovery but are still not satisfied with your life, hire a coach. People with years or even decades of abstinence go back to drinking and drugging because they are unhappy and satisfied with their life. It is way better to hire a coach and start improving your enjoyment than to go back out. A Recovery Coach really can help you figure out how to feel good while staying in recovery. We’ll help you figure out what you want, how to get it, and coach you through the process of reaching your goals and dreams. Get in touch for a complimentary coaching consultation today.

About Alida

Alida Schuyler is a Recovery Coaching pioneer and is called the “mother of Recovery Coaching.” She is director of Crossroads Recovery Coaching Inc, which trains professional Recovery Coaches and provides coaches to addiction agencies or persons with addiction issues.  Alida is co-founder of Recovery Coaches International, is a credentialed member of the International Coaching Federation, co-chair of their Great Life in Recovery Special Interest Group, and a participant in Recovery Coaching forums and e-communities. Alida earned a B.A. in Psychology from the Berea College and a M.S. in Library Science from the University of Kentucky. She is trained in clinical hypnotherapy by the Wellness Institute. Alida has a small private practice of addiction recovery client and lives in Port Angeles, WA where she skis, does Fair Isle knitting, and writes both fiction and nonfiction about addiction recovery.

Thanks Alida!