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Learning by Teaching: Mastering Your Recovery

One of the best ways to master a subject is to teach what you have learned to others. In addiction and trauma recovery, we often build support networks and engage in group meetings to share our experiences. Our wisdom can then be passed on to others, who may be at the beginning stages of recovery. We can also help those experiencing setbacks and regression or seek to learn more to continue self-improvement.

Teaching others forces us to thoroughly evaluate our recovery journey, accept the mistakes we have made as “teachable moments,” and re-learn what we already know. During early recovery, you may be asked to lead a group therapy session in an outpatient program or a 12-step meeting at your homegroup. The following steps can help you create a compelling experience for both you and your peers in recovery: reflect on personal experiences, select a topic, and create learning objectives and goals.

Reflecting on Personal Experiences

The first step is taking some time to be introspective and reflect upon your own experiences in recovery. One of the most important aspects of a group session is the comradery of individuals helping one another in a shared experience. In peer support groups, the group leader often has personal experiences in their recovery, which can help shape the direction of a group session.

When you enter the final stages of learning recovery skills and coping mechanisms, teaching others provides an excellent opportunity for you to reflect on the hard work that took you this far. You should feel proud of yourself for being asked to lead a group! It reflects the time and effort that you have put into self-improvement and teaching others is a great honor.

Begin to reflect on your experiences by journaling about them. If you have been journaling, take some time to review your past entries. Talk with others about the changes they have seen in you during your recovery. Start to think about your own experiences and the lessons that you have learned along the way. Keep the following in mind as you reflect:
View past mistakes and regrets as “teachable moments.” Life is about growth, and making mistakes is just a part of the growth process.

Think about what personal experiences you are comfortable discussing with a group and which ones you are not comfortable sharing. Everyone differs in how comfortable they feel sharing, and that is okay! You are sharing the lessons learned and do not have to divulge all the details if you do not feel comfortable doing so.

Selecting a Topic

Now that you have taken time to reflect on past experiences, the next step in teaching is selecting a topic. A topic can be broad (examples: “recovery,” “trauma,” or “addiction”), or specific (examples: “how to create a personal mantra,” “identifying personal triggers,” or “impacts of nutrition on mental health”).

While broad topics can be great to create an open forum of discussion, specific topics often work best for creating an effective group or teaching session. Think about the lessons you have learned during recovery and what coping mechanisms helped you get through those tough times. When selecting a topic, also consider the following:

  • What are you good at? What issues would you consider yourself to be an expert on?
  • What is the most important lesson you have learned in recovery?
  • What things are you most passionate about? These could be specific coping strategies, like journaling or mindfulness, or hobbies, such as music, art, hiking, or sports that have helped you personally in your recovery.

Creating Learning Objectives and Goals

Once you have selected your topic, decide on your learning objectives and goals. Objectives and goals will help you focus your material and your discussion points. Ultimately, what is it that you would like your peers to leave the session knowing? What skills would you like your peers to learn? What additional tools will they be able to try to aid in their recovery? Consider some of the following tips when creating learning objectives:

  • Be specific –this will help you focus when leading your session. Your peers will benefit more when knowing the
  • learning objectives beforehand. Being specific will also keep the group from straying off-topic.
  • Think in terms of action and skill-building –what will your peers be able to do with this knowledge?
  • What mistakes from your past are now “teachable moments” that your peers can learn from?
  • What are some things you know now that you wish you knew earlier in your recovery?

Some examples of learning objectives include:

  • “After this session, peers will be able to list their top five trauma triggers.”
  • “Peers will learn how to write a daily gratitude journal.”
  • “Following today’s group, peers will understand the importance of creating a routine and will be able to create their daily schedule.”

Remember to pat yourself on the back for coming this far in your recovery and be proud of what you have accomplished! You are now able to help others on their recovery journey.

Finding your place in the recovery community can be scary and confusing. The world of meetings, groups, therapy, etc. can all feel overwhelming without a good starting point. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Through a holistic recovery program, you can heal spiritually, mentally, and physically – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober isn’t easy, but it can be an exciting period of your life, filled with transformational experiences and incredible growth.