A mentor/recovery buddy/sponsor can provide vital support, encouragement and accountability during the eating disorder recovery process. And what a difference that can make to the sponsee. However, it’s important to understand the role of a sponsor – what does he or she does and does not do.
A quality mentor/recovery buddy/sponsor has good listening skills and the ability to tune into what the sponsee is feeling. A sponsor provides a safe place to talk so the sponsee can feel comfortable sharing his or her needs.
A sponsor provides encouragement and support by doing things such as reminding the sponsee how far he or she has come or that there is always hope of recovery. The sponsor can tag along for appointments, give pep talks when the sponsee is facing challenges or direct the sponsee to helpful books, websites and other resources.
Another component of the sponsoing process may be accountability. The sponsor can check in with the sponsee to make sure he or she is keeping appointments, sticking to a meal plan or completing therapist assigned homework. These benefits and others can help the sponsee to stay the course during recovery.
In Christian mentoring, the sponsor may also pray for the sponsee, provide scriptural support and recommend Christian music or reading material. A Christian sponsor can encourage the sponsee to invite God into any or each part of his or her recovery. He or she can also help the sponsee dig into God’s word for inspirational truths to provide strength and direction in the recovery process.
A sponsor, though, is not a substitute for therapy, medical attention or any other eating disorder treatment option. A sponsor can neither diagnose nor treat an eating disorder. While a sponsor may in some cases, be a professional, often he or she is not. Therefore, the sponsor does not have the training to act as a therapist, a dietitian, a doctor or any other type of professional involved in treating eating disorders. A sponsor also does not bear the responsibility of crisis management in the recovery of the sponsee.
A sponsor can do many things to support the sponsee during eating disorder recovery. He or she can encourage or even inspire the sponsee, can provide accountability, prayer support and a vital listening ear, but cannot provide professional services nor do any of the hard work of recovery for the sponsee. The benefits of what a sponsor can do, though, can make a significant difference in the sponsee’s recovery experience.