What is a psychosocial recovery coach?

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Psychosocial recovery coaches help people with psychosocial disability to live a fulfilling life.

Key points

  • Psychosocial recovery coaches were introduced to the NDIS in July 2020
  • Recovery coaches provide a more targeted coordination service for people with psychosocial disability which is focused on improving your health
  • Coaches can help with a wide range of factors in your life from connecting with friends and family to learning about self advocacy

Also known simply as recovery coaches, they work with National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, their families, carers, support services and other organisations to coordinate supports and make sure participants get the most out of their NDIS plan.

Recovery coaches share some of the role of support coordinators but have a better understanding of mental health and the challenges faced by people with psychosocial disabilities and so can deliver more targeted coordination.

Psychosocial recovery coaches were officially introduced to the NDIS in July 2020, following consultation of people with psychosocial disability, their support networks and Mental Health Australia. They are only available to people with an NDIS plan and a primary diagnosis of psychosocial disability.

Recovery-oriented practice

The focus of recovery coaches is to assist with recovery-oriented practice, which empowers and supports an individual to make their own choices, live a meaningful, satisfying and purposeful life, and be a valued member of the community – whether they overcome their mental health condition completely or continue to live with it.

Recovery-oriented practice also supports individuals to build on their strengths and take as much responsibility for their lives and wellbeing as they can to work towards positive, realistic goals and have a more positive mindset.

It recognises that every individual is different, that they know themselves better than anyone else, and that supports need to be suited to their individual situation, experiences and emotions.

Recovery-oriented mental health practice is considered to be best practice with mental health, but does not necessarily apply to other disabilities.

That’s why recovery coaches only work with NDIS participants who have a psychosocial disability.

The benefits of a psychosocial recovery coach over a support coordinator include:

  • More experience with what supports might be needed by a person with psychosocial disability
  • More experience with mental health systems and how to best access them
  • More understanding of fluctuating conditions and how to plan for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days
  • More understanding of what goals might be involved in a recovery journey and the importance of independence and self-determination
  • More focus on how an individual’s experiences, gender, sexuality, family culture and community influence their current state of mind
  • Support to develop an individual recovery plan
  • Dedication to a trusting relationship between the coach and participant, which is needed for recovery-oriented practice to work

What does a recovery coach do?

Recovery coaches work on supporting you to be the best you can be through positive, hope-based recovery planning.

This recognises that psychosocial disability fluctuates and is not the same each day, but also that there are supports which people with psychosocial disability can use to improve their health.

The specific activities which a coach might do to help you include:

  • Supporting you to developing goals for your life through recovery planning
  • Coaching you to build on strengths, knowledge, skills, resilience, and decision-making
  • Assisting you to connect positively with family and friends
  • Providing information and advice which is tailored to your situation and comes from experience with the mental health system
  • Explaining NDIS supports, plus other services and resources, and how you can get the most out of them
  • Collaborating with other services to make sure your supports are responsive to what you need and your goals
  • Linking you with mental health services and mental health support, health and other services, particularly when you are unwell
  • Explaining your human rights and supporting you to build up your capacity for self advocacy
  • Documentation and reporting

Choosing a psychosocial recovery coach

The first decision to make is whether you would like a coach with lived experience of mental health struggles or a coach who has learned about mental health through their education and work experience.

Both types of recovery coaches are qualified to help you, so it is up to personal preference which one you choose. You don’t have to stick with either a coach with lived experience or a coach with learned experience forever and you can switch between the two types.

You can also choose to have a support coordinator rather than a recovery coach, having a recovery coach is not mandatory for people with psychosocial disability.

However, the NDIS is unlikely to fund both a recovery coach and a support coordinator for you as a recovery coach will do much of the work that a support coordinator would do.

If you already have a support coordinator who you think supports you in the best way possible, you might choose to keep your support coordinator.

If not, your Local Area Coordinator or NDIS planner can help you to find a recovery coach which suits your preferences and to organise funding in your NDIS plan under capacity building supports for the recovery coach’s service.

What difference do you think psychosocial recovery coaches will make for people with psychosocial disability on the NDIS? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:
Mental health and the NDIS
Psychosocial disabilities
Caring for a person with psychosocial disability