On the Path to Recovery

Denis King obtained a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management from Johnson and Wales University. Although his degree is not in Human Services, it does help him in his current position as Director of Peer Engagement and Recovery Services at Champlain Valley Family Center (CVFC).

Nick Dubay has a four-year degree in Humanities, with a concentration in Theater and Woman’s Studies. He works at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), Champlain Valley as the Program Administrator/Outreach Coordinator. Like King, Dubay didn’t know that his struggles and experiences in life would prepare him for an entirely different career.

King and Dubay, and their respective organizations, will soon co-host Recovery Coach Academy Training (RCA), a 30-hour interactive program focused on the Ten Components of Recovery:



It is designed to help participants become Certified Peer Recovery Advocates or Certified Peer Support Specialists. Both certifications are awarded by New York State’s Office of Addiction and Supports (OASAS).\

Currently a number of organizations in the North Country are hiring peers who can provide invaluable support to the continuum of behavioral health services. The training will be held at the All Ways to Recovery Community Center on the MHAB Life Skills Campus on the former Air Force Base in November. While other communities charge for RCA, the Plattsburgh training program is being offered free of charge through an OASAS grant.

Previously the word “recovery” was loosely defined as a process whereby a person achieved better health and quality of life through abstinence. Unfortunately, that definition often left people in recovery feeling marginalized in their day to day life.


The belief that everyone is in recovery from something isn’t mean to dilute the definition of “recovery” but rather to normalize it. According to Dubay “We need to normalize mental health terms for anybody who wants to live a better life.”

Part of what challenges individuals in recovery is accessing resources while managing anxiety and negative thinking. “A Recovery Coach can provide a pathway and support to individuals who are taking their first steps towards recovery,” shared King. “Peers can increase a person’s network, resources and outreach while they find their way towards recovery. We want to meet them where they are, instill hope and encourage them to not give up on themselves,” Dubay offered.

The RCA program is based on a framework for thinking about different pathways and styles of recovery. The approach presents a five-stage journey: Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance. RCA participants will become acquainted with the characteristics of each stage, the recoveree’s (the individual embracing recovery) tasks and the coaches’ tasks for each stage.

Dubay and King are candid about their own recoveries. King is in recovery from alcoholism, while Dubay is recovering from mental illness and suicidal ideation. They draw on their experiences for their classes, for themselves and for the individuals they coach. Ultimately a recovery coach is someone who acts as a resource for their recoveree. Whether it is through personal experience or community networking, they are able to assist with connections and needed resources based on the recoverees individualized needs.

Once you understand the purpose of the Recovery Coach, the duality of the noun “coach” makes perfect sense. Simply put, a coach is a conduit from one place to another.

For King and Dubay, offering this training together for the past seven years has been fulfilling, inspiring and engaging.

If you would like more information, or to register for the Recovery Coach Academy, Denis King would like to hear from you. Contact info below.

All Ways to Recovery Community Center
14 Dormitory Drive
Plattsburgh, NY 12903
518 561-8480