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Differences Between Your Professional Mentor and Recovery Supports – And How They Can Help You

In recovery, one of the most important things a person can have is social support. Whether this support exists through a professional counselor, recovery coach, sponsor, or a friend, these relationships are incredibly beneficial. For professionals or those in the workforce, you may also have a professional mentor helping you in your career.

The more mentors, the better…right?

Though mentors are highly beneficial, at a certain point, you may begin to feel like you have too many people offering insight in your life. For this reason, it is important to remember the differences among these relationships and the mentorship they can offer to your life, career and next steps in recovery.

Your Professional Mentor

After you, your professional mentor has one thing in focus – your career. The biggest differentiator in your interactions with your professional mentor versus your recovery supports is the targeted, specialized insights they’ll be able to offer as it pertains to education, career advancement, and job fulfilment. This is their specialty, and this is why you want them.

Professional mentors can make you better in your job and can help ensure that you have a fulfilling career ahead of you. Better yet, if you have a professional mentor who is able to invest more time in the relationship, they can often add critical insight into important character lessons that are helpful both in and out of work. In your career, mentorship can be a game changer to open doors, find connections, and build a network. Leverage the interactions with your mentor as much as you can, and listen to the lessons they’re able to share.

Some professionals in recovery may be fortunate enough to find a mentor who is also living in recovery. If not, there is still benefit in having a professional mentor. You may wish to disclose to your mentor that you are in recovery, but only if you feel comfortable doing so. Sharing with your mentor that you are in recovery may help them in giving you advice – they’ll better be able to give you the right advice, not just any advice. For example, if they are unaware of your recovery, they may encourage you to go to as many happy hours as you can for networking – which could be a trigger for you.

Your Recovery Supports

Your recovery supports will serve a different purpose than your professional mentor. Your recovery supports are looking to ensure your recovery is strong, and that you are holistically healthy – this includes your relationships, job, mental health, physical health, spiritual health and more.

Your recovery support could be a sponsor through a sober support group, a recovery coach, peer recovery specialist, or even a counselor or mental health practitioner. All of these people are looking deeper into your life as it pertains to your recovery. Among this group there are distinct differences, though each one of these individuals will be looking at you from a broad, holistic sense – and primarily tying back to your success as a person living in recovery. The advice your recovery supports may give you pertaining to your career may be helpful, though remember that your professional mentor will be focused on this aspect of your life. You can still benefit from what your recovery supports have to say, but remember that they’re focused on your recovery – not your career advancement – and note the differences.

Whether you are working with your recovery supports or your professional mentor, make sure to set boundaries and have honest expectations of the dynamic of each relationship. Being that each relationship will focus on your life, career or recovery, it’s important to set boundaries that will keep the right conversations happening in the right forum. By setting clear expectations with your mentor, sponsor, or recovery coach – as they will set with you – you help to ensure your relationship goes smoothly and has the best chance for meaningful dialogue that boosts your recovery or career.

Learning to decipher what advice to listen to isn’t always easy, but remembering the source of advice is the key. When you’ve formed relationships with a mentor or recovery support, and determined the boundaries, the potential benefits are endless. Each party can bring value and meaning into your life and career, give you vital support when you need it most, and ensure you are the best you can be both in your personal life and professional life.


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