It is suggested that members of CoDA work the 12 Steps in order to start the process of recovery from Co-Dependent behaviours. A Sponsor is someone who has previously worked the 12 Steps and can guide us through the CoDA 12 Steps in the way that they were shown by their Sponsor/Step Group.
Their role is to pass on their experience, strength and hope in working the 12 Steps. They can also help by being an objective voice to help gain insight into co-dependent behaviour and offer a source of identification, support and encouragement. The Sponsor/Sponsee relationship offers a space for open, honest communication that is free of judgement. The Sponsor/ Sponsee relationship can be particularly rewarding for both parties and is helpful in setting the blueprint for managing all relationships.
However these are ‘suggestions’ only, based on our own experience of working the CoDA steps and what worked for us. The sponsor and sponsee are encouraged to work out their own individual framework for the relationship. These are intended only as guidelines to facilitate the journey of recovery. The decision to put any of these into practice is between the individual and their own higher power.
Types of Sponsorship
1. Sponsor (this is an individual member who has worked the Steps that can assist another member to work through the Steps)
2. Co-Sponsorship (this is where 2 or 3 people agree to co-sponsor each other through the Steps)
3. Step Groups (this is where a Group meet regularly to work through the Steps together)
4. 14 Day Worksheet (for newcomers in their first 14 days [awaiting approval])
5. Temporary Sponsorship (a trial period of 3 months to decide if the working relationship suits both parties)
6. Therapist (who is familiar and supportive of the CoDA 12 Steps)
Who can Sponsor?
1. A member of CoDA may consider sponsoring if they are working the CoDA 12 Steps and attending meetings. It is difficult to give away what we have if we aren’t working the CoDA program.
2. Only those that have worked all 12 steps will be able to sponsor all these steps. However a member of CoDA who has already completed the majority of the steps with their Sponsor may consider sponsoring a complete newcomer as they will have valuable experience to pass on.
3. If it is difficult to find a Sponsor, co-sponsorship with another member of CoDA with a similar recovery period can be considered.
The Sponsors Role
1. The role of Sponsor is to pass on ‘suggestions’ and their own ‘experience’ of working the 12 Steps in accordance with the CoDA Big Book and/or CoDA Step Workbook.
2. Availability: by becoming a Sponsor we are committing to being available to the Sponsee on the phone and in person to give guidance on the Steps.
3. Commitment: in principle the sponsor commits to being available to work through all the 12 CoDA steps.
4. Setting/Respecting Boundaries; It is suggested to agree with the Sponsee when is a suitable time to call to check in and an amount of time per week to meet to work the Steps e.g. once a week for an hour.
5. Control: it is helpful to be aware of not becoming controlling or dominant with a Sponsee.
6. Advice: as Sponsors we are reminded not to give advice, instead we may make ‘suggestions’ and share our own ‘experience’.
7. Honesty: as a Sponsor we offer our honesty and objectivity in a safe and respectful manner.
8. Enmeshment: it is helpful to remember the sharing guidelines, using ‘I’ statements and sharing about our own experiences as much as possible.
9. Guidance: It is suggested that Sponsors have their own Sponsor with whom they can discuss any sponsorship issues that arise.
10. It is suggested that women seek out Female sponsors and men seek out Male sponsors, to avoid potential romantic enmeshment.
11. The role of Sponsor/ Sponsee is one that is a partnership that needs to meet the needs of both the Sponsor and Sponsee.
12. It is up to each individual to decide how many sponsees they can take through the steps at any given time. We are reminded to pay attention to giving each sponsee the time required to work the steps fully and to consider if we are taking on too much responsibility.
The Sponsee Role
1. Willingness: before working the Steps it is important to ask ourselves if we are willing to go to any lengths to recover from Co-Dependency and if we are ready to change?
2. Responsibility: it is suggested that the Sponsee takes the initiative and responsibility for their own progress through the Steps.
3. Dependency: it is important to be aware of becoming too dependent or enmeshed with a Sponsor or making them into our Higher Power. The Sponsor is not a counsellor and is only there to give guidance and pass on their experience and suggestions on how to work the Steps.
4. Commitment: by becoming a Sponsee we are committing to calling our Sponsor and meeting in person to receive guidance on working through all the 12 CoDA Steps.
5. Setting/Respecting Boundaries: it is suggested to agree when is a suitable time to call to check in and an amount of time per week that works for both, to meet to work the Steps e.g once a week for an hour .
6. Trust: It is suggested that the Sponsee is willing to follow and be open to the suggestions of the Sponsor on how to work the Steps.
7. The role of Sponsor/ Sponsee is one that is a partnership that needs to meet the needs of both the Sponsor and Sponsee.
8. It is suggested to have just 1 sponsor at any given time
How to choose a Sponsor
1. We feel it is important to choose a Sponsor whose recovery we aspire to and identify with.
2. It is suggested to pick a member who has already worked the 12 Steps in CoDA.
3. Go to as many meetings as possible and listen out for members with a substantial period of recovery who attend meetings regularly.
4. We ask for numbers of members whose recovery we identify with.
5. We attend meetings for a period of time in order to get to know the members and their style of recovery.
6. Once we feel ready we can ask the particular member if they are available to sponsor us through the Steps.
7. It is also an option to ask a member for ‘temporary’ sponsorship to assess compatibility for a sponsor/sponsee partnership.
8. It is suggested that women seek out Female sponsors and men seek out Male sponsors, to avoid potential romantic enmeshment.
9. It is suggested that the Sponsor chosen also has their own Sponsor to give them guidance through the sponsorship process.
10. Although our Sponsor is our main point of contact for working the 12 Steps, it is useful to remember that they do not need to be our sole point of contact outside meetings. Members are encouraged to form a network of other CoDA members in order to offer each other support outside of meetings.
How to find a Sponsor
1. Home Group – find a regular Home group (one that we attend weekly) and attend that meeting regularly to get to know fellow members.
2. Meetings – try to get to several meetings a week to hear different types of recovery and widen the possibility of finding a suitable sponsor.
3. Networking – ask for the numbers of those whose sharing and recovery we identify with or aspire to, and then call them.
4. Meeting Book – some meetings such as the Clapham (Sat) and Womens Pont St (Mon) meetings have a contact book where there is a column notifying who is available to Sponsor.
5. Contact the Sposnsorship Rep and ask for a list of Step Groups.
6. Announce – at meetings that we are looking for a Step Group, Co-Sponsors or a Sponsor and for interested members to speak to us after the meeting.
7. Workshops – these are an important source to find out more about sponsorship and to meet potential Sponsors. These can be organised by any meeting with enough interest or members looking for Sponsors and can be supported by the Region and NSC.
8. CoDA Website – it is proposed that the CoDA website will have a Sponsorship page notifying members of Step Groups, co-sponsors, available Sponsors etc
1. It is important to remember that Sponsorship is a partnership that needs to meet the needs of both the Sponsor and Sponsee.
2. It is helpful to ask ourselves first if we are experiencing any co-dependency issues as a result of working the steps that has created some temporary discord. Often it is helpful to share how we feel with our Sponsor and other members or to sit with the situation for a short period before taking any action as our experience tells us that this often passes.
3. It is possible that the Sponsor we have chosen may not fit our changing needs; we may have picked someone with patterns that mirror our childhood, their or our situation may have changed or we may become uncomfortable with their style of working the steps. If we would like to change our Sponsor it is suggested that we let them know in a respectful manner that is safe for us, that we would like to end the Sponsorship relationship. This can be a positive experience in learning how to communicate our needs in a healthy way.
1. It is important to remember that Sponsorship is a partnership that needs to meet the needs of both the Sponsor and Sponsee.
2. It is helpful to ask ourselves first if we are experiencing any co-dependency issues as a Sponsor as a result of working the steps that has created some temporary discord. Often it is helpful to share how we feel with our own Sponsor and other members or to sit with the situation for a short period before taking any action as our experience tells us that this often passes.
3. It is possible that a Sponsee may no longer be working the Steps, may be avoiding calls/meetings or perhaps not following our suggestions – if we would like to end the Sponsorship relationship it is suggested that we let them know in a respectful manner that is safe for us. This can be a positive experience in learning how to communicate our needs in a healthy way.
1. 2 CoDA members with similar recovery times may decide to Sponsor each other through the 12 CoDA Steps. This may work particularly well for members that have already been in recovery for some time and who are comfortable with the concept of sponsorship.
2. It is suggested that the sections on being a Sponsor and Sponsee are read by both Co-Sponsors.
3. Both Co-Sponsors are able to share with each other what they are learning from working the Steps and may discover that each member has some answers within.
4. Each Co-Sponsor may wish to take it in turns to call and to share, making it clear whose role is whose at the start of the conversation.
5. As in Individual Sponsorship boundaries need to be maintained, but because both parties are establishing them at the same time it may flow more smoothly. Strength and focus are still needed, nevertheless, to deal with the discomfort of raising controversial issues and to maintain boundaries as necessary.
6. Co-Sponsors may find that they need to set aside specific time to work the Steps in depth.
3. Step Groups
1. The role of the Step Group is to enable a group of CoDA members to work through the 12 Steps together, in accordance with the CoDA Big Book and/or CoDA Step Workbook.
2. It is suggested that the Step Group start at Step 1 and work the Steps in sequential order. The group may decide to alternate between a Step and a Tradition e.g. Step 1 then Tradition 1 and so on. Once each Step is complete the group then moves on to the next Step.
3. It is suggested that each Step Group has a co-ordinator who will arrange the first group meeting. At this first meeting it is suggested that to agree as a Group a suitable time to meet and the length and regularity of the meeting e.g once a week for 2 hours.
4. Venue: some groups rotate the meeting between each members home or rent a room to hold the meeting in. Each Step group is fully self supporting and would decide as a group how to split costs.
5. Group Size: it is up to each individual Step Group to decide how many members it has. A suggested number is 3-5 members, to allow each member adequate time to work the steps fully and for a bond of trust and intimacy to form between the members.
6. Closed Groups: groups may decide that once work has started on Step 1 that the group will then close to any further members joining, to avoid disruption to the group dynamic.
7. Same Sex Groups: it is suggested that women seek out Female Step Groups and men seek out Male Step Groups, to avoid potential romantic enmeshment or inter-sex co-dependency issues.
8. Availability: group members commit to being available to attend all the Step Group meetings and to being available on the phone to give guidance and support to each other whilst working through the Steps.
9. Commitment: in principle all members of the Step Group commit to being available to work through all 12of the CoDA steps.
10. Advice: as Step Group Members we are reminded not to give advice, instead we may make ‘suggestions’. It is helpful to remember the sharing guidelines, using ‘I’ statements and sharing about our own experiences as much as possible. The Step Group may like to hold a copy of the Sharing Guidelines for reference.
11. Honesty: as a Step Group Member we offer our honesty and objectivity in a safe and respectful manner.
12. Trust: the Step Group aims to provide a safe, supportive, confidential and non-judgemental space that allows us to open up and be honest about our co-dependency.
13. Setting/Respecting Boundaries: If we are asked for feedback we try to respect the Guidelines for Sharing by stating “What I heard was../ What I identify with is…/ My own experience of that was….”. Any member who is uncomfortable with feedback may set a boundary with the group by requesting no feedback. It is helpful to be aware of not becoming controlling or dominant within the group or with other group members.
14. Traditions: the Step Group has no ‘leaders’ and each member has equal say in how the Step Group is run. It is suggested to use the 12 CoDA Traditions as the blueprint for a healthy Step Group.
15. Group Conscience: Any member can call a Group Conscience at any time to request a change in the format or to raise any personal issues. We are reminded of the Traditions which ask us to place principles before personalities at all times.
16. Format: each group is autonomous in deciding its own format, such as mixed or single sex group, which CoDA books are used, whether Steps and also Traditions are worked, length of sharing time per person, the pace at which the Steps are worked etc.
17. At Step 4 the group may like to break the meetings down into a Step 4 Topic per week. Step 4 Topic suggestions are: Resentments, Fears, Negative Beliefs, Co-Dependent Behaviours, Family, Work, Friends, Money Issues, Sex Conduct , Harm to Others, Harm to Ourselves, Assets. Members may ask the group to write down what co-dependent behaviours they hear during their share on that weeks Topic and may ask the group members for their feedback. The sharing time and number of weeks allocated may be extended to allow each member to thoroughly explore this particular step.
Suggested Step Group Meeting Format: however each group is autonomous and may adapt this format to suit their own needs as a group.
1. The meeting starts with the Serenity Prayer.
2. Each member may check in and state how they are feeling.
3. That weeks Step is read, from either the CoDA Big Book, CoDA Workbook or CoDA Step Leaflet.
4. Each member then shares to an agreed sharing time (e.g. 10 mins) on that Step or on the writing they have done.
5. The step (or Step 4 topic) is confirmed for the following week. During the week each member works through the relevant questions in the CoDA Workbook on that weeks Step which they may share at the following weeks meeting.
6. Tradition 7 is practised if the meeting has costs to cover.
7. The meeting ends with the Serenity Prayer
4. First 14 Days Worksheet
This is a worksheet for those in their first 14 days of recovery. It is from the Australian CoDA and looks very useful – this is due to be discussed at the next Regional meeting and is awaiting approval for CoDA UK use by the Region and NSC.
5. Temporary Sponsorship
This is an alternative option for Sponsors and Sponsees to allow them time to assess their compatibility before making a firm commitment to work the Steps. Or in the case that a Sponsor is not available to make a longer term commitment. In these cases a trial period of 3 months can be agreed to, during which focus would be on Step 1.
It is suggested that ‘temporary sponsorship’ does not continue after the 3 month period and at the end of the agreed time period the relationship can be reviewed and a decision to continue or not then made. The same Sponsor/Sponsee guidelines mentioned in Point 1, still apply.
If we have a Counsellor or Therapist who is familiar with 12 Step Fellowships and understands how to work the CoDA Steps, it is then possible to work the CoDA Steps with them using the CoDa Workbook or CoDA Big Book.