This is a common question in our fellowship. Newcomers to our program often wish to find a sponsor quickly. Some of us in the program have found that sponsorship in CoDA can take many forms and proceeding slowly and carefully is advised. One-to-one sponsorship in our program can be tricky due to the nature of our disease. For a sponsee, it is easy to enmesh with or become dependent on a sponsor. A sponsor must be working a strong program to avoid falling into rescuing, caretaking, advising, or other forms of codependent behavior. Good boundaries are important for sponsors and sponsees alike. CoDA’s 12 Tips for Sponsors can be a helpful tool for those sponsoring.
Here are some descriptions from CoDA World about sponsorship. If you are in need of a sponsor, perhaps the information below can provide you with some direction.
The place to begin the search for a sponsor is often in your home group or local meetings. Some meetings offer a list of CoDA members willing to be sponsors but many members who are eager and qualified to be sponsors are not on the list. One to one sponsors can be specially helpful as we learn the CoDA Program or if we are navigating a difficult relationship challenge.
After you attend at least six CoDA meetings, listen for people who consistently share their recovery in a way that’s understandable to you. Talk with these people outside of the meeting to help you decide if you can feel safe working with them. Then ask one of these people if they would be willing to sponsor you. It may take time to get to know someone well enough to consider them for a sponsor. It is important to remember that no sponsor is “perfect”, as our program teaches us that all people are “perfectly imperfect” human beings.
We may find ourselves in a group in which there are no members willing or able to sponsor. In this case, we can travel to another CoDA group in the area or perhaps a CoDA event like an Intergroup meeting or MinnCoDA Meetup. Other options are to attend a phone or online meeting and try to find someone there with whom you identify.
Co-sponsoring (adapted from Sponsorship Booklet)
Co-sponsoring occurs when two CoDA members sponsor each other. Co-sponsors meet or call regularly to share what they are learning about the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. They share experience, strength, and hope equally, growing in their own way and at their own pace.
As in all sponsor relationships, the recovery goal in CoDA co-sponsorship is to have a mutually beneficial relationship. Working the Steps, changing our behavior, and growing spiritually frees us from advising, controlling, and rescuing.
Co-sponsors may choose to have another CoDA member guide them, especially through difficult situations or when they get stuck. Sometimes co-sponsorship is a good model for sponsorship when utilized in conjunction with a Step-Study Group.
Step Study Groups (adapted from The Meeting Handbook)/Sponsorship Groups
Step Study groups are groups of codependents working through the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, or other CoDA material in a structured format, usually outside of a regular meeting. Step Study groups often have the same objectives as co-sponsors, but with more people, and members often make contact outside the group. Please see the Step Study Group section of the ORG for information and details on starting a Step Study Group. Once a group has completed the steps together, some people may wish to continue working together as a sponsorship group. Some of us in CoDA find group sponsorship to be very helpful in our recovery journeys.
Temporary Sponsor (adapted from Sponsorship Booklet)
One way to become comfortable with a sponsor is to investigate temporary sponsorship. Often the time period for such an arrangement is left open-ended. We might want to commit to being sponsors for a couple of months and then re-evaluate the relationship.
Another form of this is to ask someone to commit to sponsoring you in completing a portion of your step work, just the first three steps or just step 4 for example.
If your prospective sponsor is unable to take the commitment, they will tell you. Please do not consider this a personal rejection. People with recovery place limits on the number of CoDA members they can sponsor. Others may feel unready in their own recovery to guide someone else. Keep looking and asking. The “right” sponsor will emerge.
For more info on sponsorship, take a listen to some archive materials from CoDA’s sponsorship workshop from February 11, 2023.