How We Differ
Every Day, More and More Unregulated Coaching and Companion Services are Opening Up

~ By Lauren Casey, PhD, CiR Director of Research and Training Development

It’s no surprise that sober coaching and recovery companion businesses are booming in response to the $35+ billion rehab industry ( ) . According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH0), 19.7 million American adults battle a substance use disorder. Drug abuse and addiction cost American society more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime-related costs (Ibid.). Furthermore, it is estimated that 46.6 million adults in the United States alone experience a serious mental health illness in a given year, and 10.2 percent of that have a co-occurring mental illness ( ). 

Treatment centers, therapeutic private practices and other behavioral healthcare services are governed by a regulatory board, boundaries, or third-party agencies, and therefore it is easy to obtain statistics and guidelines under which they operate. There is no hard data, however, on sober companion and recovery coaching services because there is no regulation nor accountability of the services being provided. Every day, more and more unregulated coaching and companion services are opening up everywhere, many of which do not offer any clinical guidance on how to behaviorally, or emotionally, provide support to its clients. As a result, many of these coaches and companions are placed into complex mental health or co-occurring disorder complex cases with no clinical background, experience, or knowledge. This is a recipe for disaster.

This is not an unfamiliar story for Connections in Recovery (CiR). Owners Lauren Arborio and Patty Baret along with some of the CiR case managers have spoken to parents and loved ones of individuals who have received coaching from independent coaches or unregulated coaching/companion companies and the results have varied from putting the individuals in stressful, vulnerable and dangerous situations, to causing unnecessary stress and confusion for the families who are relying on the coach/companion’s expertise and proficiency in navigating challenging situations. In fact, CiR recently heard from two different families where the companions on the case were ill-equipped. This happens too often.

“Connections in Recovery understands the (non-negotiable) necessity of investing in training and ongoing clinical supervision for all of our coaches and companions. This ensures that our staff is delivering the highest quality of service to their clients and their families. Each recovery coach/companion and mental health coach/companion receives ongoing clinical support and guidance through their duration with the client, which has been a tremendous asset to coaches and companions, especially with the more complex cases. Clinical supervision is offered 24/7 on every active case, including throughout the process of transporting a client to a safe location or treatment program.”

Why CiR?

Connections in Recovery (CiR)—an international addiction and mental health treatment consulting and referral resource company—is a different kind of service. As a client’s personal treatment connection, CiR’s substance abuse case management team removes anxiety by helping the loved one (and the client if appropriate) receive the answers and information they need in an efficient and timely manner. Some of the questions asked:

  • What are the first steps to getting help? 
  • What are the different types of treatment programs available to me and how do I choose one?
  • What are some of the questions you need to ask a treatment facility?
  • What is an Intervention?

What Sets CiR Apart from the Rest

Partnership with UCLA

CiR has formed a collaborative relationship with Dr. Timothy Fong and UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. Dr. Fong is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neurosience and Human Behavior at UCLA. He is also the director of the UCLA Addiction Medicine Clinic, a teaching clinic that specializes in the treatment of all disorders of addiction. In addition, he spearheads the UCLA Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, which provides high-level training in addiction psychiatry. The partnering of CiR and Dr. Fong entails of the two conducting activities that seek to advance treatment advocacy for the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders by:

  • Creating a sober companion certification program;
  • Creating a database reviewing substance abuse and mental health treatment facilities
  • Hosting conferences for family members of addictive disorders
  • Create informational products for family members of addicted individuals on how to navigate treatment systems

Clinical Supervision by Dr. Georgina Smith – Los Angeles

Dr. Georgina Smith is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, EMDR clinician, addiction specialist, case management consultant, public speaker and educator. She is the Clinical Supervisor to all CiR coaches and companions in the Los Angeles area, providing quarterly training consisting of the following:

  • The Behavioral Health Recovery Supervision Approach (developed by Dr. Smith)
  • Crisis and Safety Approach (Assessing suicide ideation, crisis interventions, etc.)
  • Family and Systems Approach (Examining the role of the family and systems client is working within such as criminal justice, treatment centers, etc.)

Clinical Supervision by Francesca Adair, MA, MFT, LPCC – New York

Francesca Adair, MA, MFT, LPCC  has been working as a clinician and administrator in acute mental health and substance use disorder treatment since 2004. Having worked alongside the founders of CIR as they launched their business and became one of the premier coaching companies in the country, she partnered with them on the east coast to provide clinical oversight and supervision. Francesca discovered she was a true clinician/administrator hybrid after being recruited to launch several successful treatment programs in Los Angeles. Having been involved extensively in direct client service as well as program development and oversight, she is continually awed and inspired by the courage and passion of recovering clients and the providers who facilitate this amazing process.

Clinical Supervision by Colleen Kelly, PhD, LMFT - Europe

Colleen M. Kelly, Ph.D., LMFT , based in Paris, is a psychotherapist who specializes in addiction and couples work. She is a California Licensed Marriage Family Therapist and an APA Board Certified Professional Counselor. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from New York University, a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University and a Doctorate in Philosophy. Dr. Kelly provides clinical supervision to coaches and companions based in Europe. Furthermore, as an educator, she has more than 40 articles published on addiction and treatment and is the author of over 20 published Continuing Education courses for MFTs and LCSWs.

A Multi-Dimensional, Collaborative Approach

With the presence of complex mental health disorders on the rise, along with substance abuse, a multi-dimensional approach is mandatory. Connections in Recovery provides multi-dimensional services including:

  • Crisis services and support
  • In home assessment, wellness checks, assistance with psychiatric holds, admissions to the ER
  • Vetting treatment facilities around the country and worldwide
  • Case management
  • Interventions
  • Treatment placement and support
  • 24/7 recovery companions, available for live-in as well as outpatient
  • Safe transport services
  • Mental health coaching and companions, fully vetted and trained by Dr. Georgina Smith in suicide ideation, working with borderline personality disorders, detoxification, medication charting and compliance, family dynamics, dual diagnosis, bipolar disorder, etc.

Fully Trained and Vetted Staff

All of CiR staff are carefully vetted and hand-picked, maintaining an elite cluster of exceptional individuals. CiR staff provide unparalleled excellence and professionalism by adhering to the following principles:

  • Ongoing supervision by a licensed clinical therapist
  • Masters and PhD-level coaches and companions
  • Policies and procedures governing guidelines of all ethical practices
  • Thorough interviewing process
  • Background checks and professional references
  • Strict guidelines
  • Professional status notes documenting time spent with client
  • Ongoing communication with the treatment team

Don’t place your patients in the hands of fly-by-night companies or rogue companions who have nothing more than a couple of years of sobriety (if even that) and no experience or education. Invest in the best – Connections in Recovery. For more information: .

Gain Peace of Mind.

Available all over the world, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Europe.
About Dr. Lauren Casey

Lauren Casey, PhD, has worked professionally with a variety of regional, national and international organizations committed to the reduction of health inequalities in society. She has created, developed and delivered successful government-funded harm reduction programs, and has been the recipient of several awards for her contribution to the betterment of health and well-being of individuals dealing with mental health and substance abuse. She has also published numerous academic book chapters and scholarly articles on the subject.

Dr. Casey has developed programs and services for incarcerated women and has delivered workshops to women and youth at a variety of detention centers and federal and state prisons throughout California. She has been an invited guest speaker at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the American Society of Criminology and the Academic Health Policy Conference on Correctional Health held in Boston, MA. She continues to present her research at academic conferences worldwide.

While pursuing her PhD, Dr. Casey was the successful recipient of two major doctoral scholarship awards—the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research and the Integrated Mentorship Program in Addictions Research Training (IMPART). She is also past nominee of the prestigious Trudeau doctoral scholarship award.

As an international speaker and expert in qualitative research, Dr. Casey traveled to Kenya, Africa to provide interview training to a group of research assistants at the University of Nairobi, followed by three days in the slums of Kibera conducting interviews with adult women living with HIV/AIDS. This fieldwork was part of A Kenya Free of AIDS: Harnessing Interdisciplinary Science for HIV Prevention (KEFA), a United States National Institutes of Health-funded research project that interlinked the University of Nairobi, the University of Washington and the University of Victoria.