Frequently asked questions: Peer coaching

Here are the most common questions related to training, certification and privacy, asked and answered.

Experience, training and certification

What are the requirements to become a coach? 
Our coaches are required to have personal experience with addiction, either directly themselves or as a close loved one of someone with the disease. They need to demonstrate they are healthy and have been actively engaged in a wellness or self-management program. They are not required to have a specific number of days in recovery, but we spend a lot of time in the interview process and reference checks to ensure they are ready to provide peer support.

How are your coaches trained? 
Our training curriculum is evidence-based. It covers 17 core competencies, including ethics, communication, wellness planning, self-care, behavior change and crisis management. We have a 32-hour training program, which includes 16 hours of online content, four hours of classroom lecture and scenario exercises and 20 hours of shadowing an experienced coach. In order to be certified as a Face It TOGETHER Addiction Management Coach, our coaches must complete the full training and pass a final exam with a score of 75% or higher. Finally, coaches are under close supervision by our Director of Coaching and National Trainer for 90 days and then reviewed.

Are your coaches credentialed? 
No. Most credentialing programs are primarily established to allow Medicaid or state-based reimbursement for peer coaching. Face It TOGETHER has a different business model that does not include traditional reimbursement streams. Further, the training programs used for credentialing in every state use the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) training course. While the CCAR training is the most widely used, it does not incorporate the latest science and research for chronic disease management, community health workers or self-management practices. We incorporate the latest research reviewed by Peers for Progress and other institutions like Stanford University, and more importantly, best practices that come from Face It TOGETHER’s own learnings and data. Many of our coaches do have undergraduate and advanced degrees in a range of fields.

How often do your coaches go through training?
All coaches are required to complete quarterly continuing education courses to increase depth of knowledge and to reinforce our core coaching competencies.


Clinical and medical care

Does a clinician (medical professional) oversee any of our coaching program?
We utilize clinician oversight in four ways. First, whenever we make a change to our core training content or training competencies, our clinical advisor reviews and approves. Second, whenever we design new program elements, our clinical advisor is either on the project team from the outset and/or reviews and approves the new program element (e.g., our loved ones coaching program). Third, our lead coaches engage our clinical advisor as needed for supervision support, case review, critical decision-making and additional training. And last, our clinical advisor assists our training team and lead coaches in finding clinical experts to regularly train our coaches on the signs and symptoms of other mental illness. We do this so our coaches can best determine when a member’s needs have exceeded our scope. 

How do you refer a member to a clinician for a dual-diagnosis?
Because we are peers, our role is not to determine if a “dual-diagnosis” is needed. Conversations with our members start with an understanding of their immediate circumstances, thoughts and actions. Then our coaches seek to understand the member’s treatment history. Last, our coaches take a general pulse of the member’s readiness for treatment. Our protocol, depending on circumstances, is always to refer our members to a clinician for a full Substance Use Disorder assessment. We believe clinicians are the right people to consider dual-diagnosis issues.

What if someone needs clinical treatment?
The process outlined in the previous answer is followed. We strive to provide navigation to services and care resulting in the best possible outcome. In order to do this, we work with all members to understand their clinical treatment history and ability to pay. We find out whether they have insurance or whether they can pay out of pocket. We take into account whether they are involved with the criminal justice field or on other public support. Then we filter through available clinical treatment options, work with members and their families to connect with providers and work through the process.


How coaching works

Do employees have a dedicated coach?
Yes. They will also be assigned or can select a secondary coach to be part of their wellness team. They will work with their primary coach to schedule sessions that make sense for them and their goals. 

How are people matched with a coach?
During their initial appointments, the “Wellness Consults,” we will provide coach options that closely meet their lived experience and goals. Often, this includes a shared substance of abuse, similar family situation or other commonalities.  

What do coaches do?
Peer coaches are partners focused on providing practical, goal-oriented support with clear action items each time they meet with members. Coaches help members dive into issues, learn from recent behaviors and refresh their approach moving forward. Coaches also help make sense of a very complicated system of care and resources, including recommendations to services, programs and tools that can help.  

How long should someone stay in coaching?
It depends on the individual. Based on our work with hundreds of past members, we see the best results when people are engaged in coaching for at least four to six months.

Does coaching replace treatment?
No. Peer coaching is not clinical treatment. If someone needs medical treatment, we can help connect them with those resources. Our approach is rooted in the science of peer support and behavior modification. Many of our members get well and find a lot of value in the support provided by our peer coaches.

Do you coach the whole family?
We can provide coaching to a whole family or any combination of family members, as long as they are all adults. We do not provide coaching to anyone under the age of 18.


Coordination with other benefits

How do you work with EAPs?
EAPs tend to have a short-term focus and they are not specialists in addiction support. We have experience working collaboratively with EAPs to provide long-term support to employees or family members impacted by addiction.


Safety and risk

What happens when you’re coaching someone who could harm themselves or someone else?
If we are coaching someone who indicates harm to themselves or someone else, we consider all circumstances in order to understand whether the harm is imminent. Typically, the coach will ask a series of questions to determine whether the individual has a plan or has made plans to harm him or herself or others. If the coach reasonably believes harm is imminent, the coach will follow our mandatory reporting practices and contact relevant authorities.  

What privacy guidelines do you follow?
We follow the general disclosure and privacy guidelines under HIPAA and 42 CFR Part 2.

What is your policy related to mandatory reporting?
We follow best practices relating to mandatory reporting. Because state laws differ on who or what professionals are required to report members to authorities, we follow the general rule: if a member indicates a strong desire to harm themselves or another (especially children, disabled or elderly) and the threat of harm appears imminent or has just occurred, we will report this activity to authorities.

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