Thanks to COVID-19, it is a very different world today than it was three months ago. Gone are the intimate one-on-one therapy sessions and conversations. In their place are Zoom chats and FaceTime calls. So, it makes sense that people in the recovery field should prepare themselves for this type of digital environment. And, truth be told, it can often require a bit of training to master the art of “virtual recovery.” But it is possible and it’s getting a little assistance from a viral guru named Brian Morris.
Morris recently made some headlines for his training courses, which teach recovery coaches how to flex their skills online. Partnering with local org Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (or PAARI) near his native Martha’s Vineyard region, Morris has gained national attention for the tools his team is able to provide.
Common tips include eye contact, freshly wiped webcams, well tested audio setups and a good locked door to ensure no disturbances happen during a recovery session. Patience is another essential element, as Morris explained. Many of the people in his program are older and not necessarily computer savvy. As he puts it, a good recovery counselor should be calming and help walk their patient through technical difficulties that may be easier for the younger set.
“It’s important to be versatile and understanding throughout this virtual recovery process,” Morris explained. “We have the young, the old, most in recovery, some not. Some are big 12-step proponents, and others are more into multiple pathways. One thing we try to impress upon our coaches is that there is more than one way to skin the recovery cat.”
Above all, Morris emphasized that the key concept is connection. And, as these times are proving, you don’t necessarily have to be in person to form that. A good, engaging recovery coach can simulate that experience from a laptop in any room of their home.
The trainings that Morris and PAARI are involved in range from simple chats to extensive 30 hour courses (spread out over a week). Beyond simple digital skills, there are elements that focus on alcoholism, drug abuse and eyeballing warning signs from a computer screen.
And, as Morris concluded, the courses have become quite popular in his local area.
“We had 16 really amazing individuals in my latest class that all did great and graduated,” he added. “This training is really the foundation, as someone starts their career as a recovery coach. I am lucky enough to lead these great people as the head instructor.”