My Basic Approach to Sponsorship – Part One

winter street ypsilanti
Even when things get bad, a good sponsor is there

by Joshua Hoe

Sponsorship is one of the best ways to work your 12th step.

I remember when I first started on my program of recovery, I did not have much guidance for being a good sponsor (Aside from the literature and my own sponsor).

I am sharing this to start a dialog, please feel free to share you own approaches to sponsorship by adding comments.

Starting Points

When I first meet someone who is asking for a sponsor, I tell them following:

– At least at first, it is probably a good idea to check in by phone everyday so we get a feel for each other and so that I can get a feel for where you are at with sobriety.

– I think it is important that you (the sponsee) initiate the contact between us because your motivation to work the program will probably be the difference between success and/or failure.

I will occasionally text or call you if I do not hear from you – but I do not want to work your program for you. At the same time, I will try to always be there for you when you need me.

– You can call me at anytime, even at 3 am, if you are struggling or need to talk to someone, I will try to answer or call you back as soon as I can. For normal daily check-ins I would prefer you call between 5 pm and 8 pm.

I try to live by this. When people need help they need help. One of the most frequent excuses people in recovery give for not calling is that they “did not want to bother/upset the person they were calling.

Service means helping when and where you are needed. And as much as it can suck, it does not mean helping only when it works for you.

You do have to set boundaries, for instance, I ask people to only call if it is an emergency during my work hours. But, I tell them I will always call them back as soon as I can. And I try to always do so.

– I always say that I believe overcoming the barrier of reaching outside of yourself for help in the moment of the crisis is the most important thing.

I believe that the rest of the program is relatively easy. The first thing you have to conquer is making the call (or prayer or meditation or whatever).

I emphasize working the steps with me as the second thing that needs to happen.

I believe that people have to get used to calling first.

The first time we talk – I try to set up a meeting so I can hear their story. When this happens, I let them tell my their story and try not to interrupt.

At the end, I share anything I felt or felt connected to etc.

Usually, when we first start talking, I will try to get a feel for where they are in terms of sobriety, ask questions about their triggers and struggles, and try to get a feel for how they want to proceed.

That is how I start with a new sponsee.

Next time I will start with working on a formal first step presentation.

How do you start with sponsees? What do you think the critical things to be covered should be? Would love to hear your opinions, leave a comment!


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