Counselling and coaching – is it right for you?

Finding the right support is an individual choice and what works for some people, will not always work for others.

It is important to remember that if something doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t mean you have failed. Addressing your relationship with alcohol can take time and you might need to try different types of support until you find something that meets your particular needs.

Using independent paid-for services can be effective but it’s important you are aware of what the service you are paying for can and cannot do, whether you are able to make the financial commitment, and whether you have a good personal fit with your counsellor or coach.

Independent counsellors

You can speak to your GP about being referred for counselling services via the NHS.

Some people do choose to get support from a private independent counsellor. Independent counsellors have different styles and use a range of techniques, they also charge for their services and rates vary between counsellors. Independent counselling can be expensive with prices starting around £50 per hour.

There is no current statutory regulation of counsellors. However, there are a few professional bodies where counsellors can get memberships and accreditations. Each of these bodies have their own set criteria for minimum training, qualifications and experience, and their own complaints procedures.

You can find out more about the different types of counselling, and access a list of professional bodies from the Counselling Directory. Most of the professional bodies listed will also have a directory of registered counsellors on their websites.

Sober coaches

A sober coach provides independent paid-for mid-level support. They provide guidance, mentorship, support, and accountability for those in the early stages of recovery from addiction. Coaches have their own style and may have undertaken specific training whilst others rely on expertise through lived experience.

A sober coach helps their clients maintain sobriety naturally. They help them create a new and healthy way of living and learn how to problem solve and communicate. They help clients learn how to understand and shift their own thought patterns, identify obstacles, and restore and create relationships with others.

In many cases, a sober coach is someone who previously struggled with a substance use disorder of their own. Because of this, they can deeply understand and relate to the nuanced struggles faced by those in recovery.

There is currently no statutory regulation of coaches in the UK. Coaches will charge for their services and fees vary from coach to coach.

What a sober coach cannot do

A sober coach is unable to provide formal treatment such as counselling or therapy. Sober coaches can be classified as mid-level range support between peer support groups and traditional substance abuse treatment.

A sober coach cannot provide medical or mental health diagnoses. They are not sponsors, and don’t necessarily adhere to one set modality of support, such as through the twelve-step programme.

What services can a sober coach provide?

Typically, a sober coach will offer an online or in-person introductory consultation to assess if working together will be a good fit. There is usually a charge for this session, and it is about both parties deciding if they want to work together. If you do, the sober coach will then gain as much information as they can about the individual’s history, experiences, beliefs, and struggles.

From there, sober coaches can offer a variety of services. Most sober coaches will either offer online sessions or in-person sessions once a week.

Tips for selecting an independent coach or counsellor

  • Find out what their expertise, training, and qualifications are and make sure you are comfortable with this
  • Find out if they are part of a professional body, or signed up to a set of ethical guidelines or code
  • Find out or ask what techniques they use to make sure this is a good fit for you
  • Always explore prices, find out what is offered and ensure you are able to make the financial commitment
  • Ask for a no commitment initial consultation call or session (there is usually a charge for this but it would mean you don’t have to commit to a larger number of sessions until you are sure), so you can explore if it is the right fit for you
  • Ask if there is a cooling off period for a refund if you change your mind before you start.