I love SMART Recovery. The program just clicked for me from the beginning. Its psychological approach speaks to me as someone who is pursuing a degree to become an addictions counselor. The four-point program focuses on the important areas of the recovery process. 1. Enhancing and maintaining motivation to abstain. 2. Coping with urges. 3. Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors through effective problem-solving. 4. Balancing momentary and enduring satisfactions to achieve lifestyle balance. Having an array of tools for each point in the process allows enough flexibility and customization to keep my interest.
I love SMART so much and have found it so beneficial in my recovery process over the past few months that I decided to do their facilitator training program and start facilitating a new meeting in my hometown. My city is pretty small, population of about 10,000, with the closest meeting about 30 minutes away. There are several 12-step and religious-based meetings here, but no real alternative options. It will likely be a small meeting and I’m okay with that. A smaller audience is best for me as I still work to overcome my anxiety issues.
In April, SMART Recovery was having a volunteer appreciation month and was offering scholarships on their training programs. You could apply for different scholarship amounts based on what you could afford. Even though the facilitator program is only $99, I am a college student and tight on cash so I applied for a scholarship at the $35 level. I could have applied for a scholarship to cover the complete cost of the program but I could afford to pay the $35 and making that small investment would make me more likely to follow through with the program. After applying, I was quickly awarded the scholarship and started my access to the course immediately.
The facilitator training course is very impressive. A combination of video presentations and pdf files guide you through a very thorough primer on SMART, all of its tools, the therapies used, best practices, tips, and much more. I worked very gradually through the training over the next couple of months as I would have a hard time to find the time and motivation to work on it after doing my school work and everything else I had going on. I finally completed the training a couple of weeks ago and received my certificate. Overall, the course tracked that I had about 20 hours into training which is what SMART recommends as the minimum time commitment to complete it.
There are really only two requirements to become a facilitator of a new SMART meeting. Pass the complete training course and register your meeting with the central office. Of course, to register your meeting you need to have a meeting location, date, and time. A little over halfway through the course they recommend that you start working to secure meeting space. I started by making a list of possible location spots in my city. I was pretty adamant about only having it at a church as a last result. I wanted to avoid any association with any type of religion as that was the point of bringing SMART to my community, to provide an alternative. There aren’t a lot of meeting spaces available here so my list consisted of community spots like the library, 4-H community building, chamber of commerce, the local treatment center, and such.
After creating a list of potential spots, I got online and looked up their websites for information about reserving their space. I quickly eliminated a couple of spots because of cost or availability issues. I need a free or very cheap space that was available on the same evening each week. I reached out to the local treatment center as a starting spot. Unable to make that work, the counselor there gave me the contact information for our local 4-H building which hosts our Citizens Against Drug Abuse council meetings. That contact wasn’t in charge of the booking so she gave me the info for the guy who was in charge but expressed doubt about the availability that I needed. She also gave me the contact info for a local family services organization that I hadn’t considered. I reached out to that contact and was invited to come to tour their building for which area I would like to possibly use. The meeting and tour went really well and they had two great areas that I could possibly use for meetings. Even better, they were willing to allow me to use the space on Sunday evenings which was my preferred choice of time. I thought it would be impossible to find a free space, not in a church, and available on Sunday evenings. It is really a blessing that everything aligned as it did and I now have a fantastic modern space to host these new meetings.
Finally, with my location, date, and time secured I was able to complete the new meeting verification form and submit it to the central office for inclusion in their directory. I just completed that step today and it said it could take 3 or 4 weeks to process and get listed which is great because I made my meeting start date for three weeks from now, on August 11th. That will give me time to promote the meeting in the community and to practice my knowledge and presentation of SMART and its tools.
So there are the beginning steps on how to start and facilitate a new SMART Recovery meeting. I will continue to blog about the process of starting a new meeting as I move on to the next steps. Next up is promoting the meeting over the next three weeks and preparing myself for my role of facilitator. I plan to reach out to the community with a more grassroots effort, relying on mostly offline interactions and word of mouth since it is a fairly small community. More on that in my next post.