iStock_000019169817XSmallSponsorship is at the core of 12 Step recovery. A sponsor can be part teacher, part confidant, part guide. Don’t forget that the sponsor benefits as much as the sponsee. There’s a slogan: ‘the best way to keep it is to give it away’. Translation — by helping you, the sponsor strengthens his or her own recovery.

We’ve noticed four qualities that make for a really successful sponsor-sponsee relationship.

First, a sponsor should be accessible. Sponsorship represents a commitment of considerable time and energy. What use is good advice if you can’t reach the person who can provide it? Seek out someone who has the time to relate to you. That’s especially important in the first months of recovery.

Second, a sponsor should have the knowledge you seek. In most cases, the best evidence is the sponsor’s own stable, positive recovery. That’s worth emulating. Don’t pick a sponsor solely because you like them personally. That’s a friend.

Third, a sponsor is willing to be honest with you. That will be especially crucial when you’re feeling defensive. In some ways, this is the most important trait of all. It’s a key part of the sponsor’s role, and it’s not for everybody. There are many kind-hearted, warm, engaging individuals simply cannot bring themselves to confront you when you most need it.

Last, a good sponsor remains focused on recovery. Sponsors, the saying goes, carry the message, not the alcoholic. They’re not there to loan you money, provide free marital counseling, job placement assistance, or psychoanalysis. They are there to guide you into recovery using the Steps.

It’s perfectly OK (but not necessary) to have more than one sponsor. And good sponsors take care not to conflict with professional treatment. Sponsors and professionals may not always agree, but they do need to remain respectful of one another’s role.

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Not only should the sponsor know the steps but also the traditions and helpful to know the history of a.a. the times in which A.a was started due to the wording and the stories were based in different societal times.

Comment by Juli Hogan — January 12, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

You just said a sponsor is there to guide you through the steps. A being the operative word. Them you say its ok to have more than one? The idea is to work through a 12 step program with one person to build up a relationship and gain insight in to recovery. If you work steps with different sponsors how can any of them have the insigt in to who you are and best serve you? I agree on having many trusted servants who the individual can share things with, personally I only have one sponsor and many trusted servants, but I always share my problems and step work with my sponsor and seek his guidance. I do ask for others input when I know they have experience in particular difficulties I am experiencing, inevitably their guidance is the same as my sponsors but is reassuring to her it from someone who has experienced it.

Comment by Michael — March 11, 2013 @ 11:28 am

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