Become a Facilitator

Why SMART Recovery San Diego needs YOU.

As a non-profit organization, SMART Recovery depends on volunteers to function.  San Diego has a particularly strong volunteer base that is proud to offer approximately 40 weekly local meetings.

We are always looking for more facilitators to better support our community with additional meetings and meeting options.

Facilitator Training Guidelines

In San Diego, we offer training at no cost and primarily train facilitators through the mentorship program described on this page. SMART Recovery USA, our national organization, offers online Host, Facilitator, and Friends & Family trainings. More information is available on their website. You can choose the training, or combination, that works best for you.

Diverse facilitators and meeting styles allow participants to find what works best for them. We are proud of the welcoming, supportive community we have created in San Diego. We continue to work to make SMART Recovery even more available to a broader community. Contributing your time and energy by running a meeting can make a difference in people’s lives.

Many volunteers find that hosting SMART meetings helps them maintain motivation in their own recoveries, expand their social networks, and live a more balanced life. With a short training process and a mentor from the SMART Recovery San Diego community, you can begin facilitating your own weekly meetings.

SMART Recovery meetings bring people together to address their addictive problems and make positive changes in their lives. A facilitator helps create a safe and non-judgmental environment for discussion and keeps the meeting running smoothly. You don’t need to be an expert on SMART Recovery to become a facilitator.

New facilitators will start off running topic meetings using meeting scripts to help them through each part. The Meeting Introductory Script provides the outline for beginning and ending a meeting and a topic discussion script covers a topic related to SMART Recovery written to spark conversation, but that’s just a starting point. It’s okay for participants to discuss whatever is on their minds as long as the discussion stays focused on positive change.

As you grow as a facilitator and move through the training process, you will be given more flexibility in shaping your meeting and making it truly your own. But many facilitators like the structure provided by a script and stick with it.

Your primary role is to set the tone of the meeting. Be welcoming and engaged; clearly communicate meeting expectations. A good facilitator lets participants interact with one another. You are not there to talk at length, give advice, or tell your personal story.

Being a facilitator is a commitment and comes with certain responsibilities. Before you get started, decide whether you can do the following for at least six months:

  • Respect each individual and their choices.
  • Complete the training, including reading the appropriate documents, attending meetings, and communicating with your mentor.
  • Hold your meeting at the same day and time for at least six months.
  • Be intoxicant-free while facilitating.
  • Be willing to speak, read aloud in front of others, and follow conversation in English or Spanish.
  • Review and adhere to SMART’s fundamental ideas  and Principles & Positions.
  • Manage your time. Start meetings on time, end on time, and make sure everyone has a chance to speak.
  • Read the topic discussion scripts provided on the SMART Recovery San Diego website as written.
  • Respond in a timely manner to inquiries from SMART Recovery San Diego.
  • Submit meeting reports and participate in the facilitators’ Google group.
  • Stay up-to-date by signing up for the monthly newsletter and checking the website regularly.
  • Solicit and turn in donations.
  • Arrange a substitute when needed.

Additionally, for online meetings:

  • Have dependable access to the Internet and a computer, laptop or tablet.
  • Be willing to use Zoom.

Training starts with learning about SMART Recovery through reading and attending meetings. While listed separately, these can be done simultaneously. After you are more familiar with SMART Recovery, contact us to get matched with a mentor who will help you learn about meeting management.

  • Attend a minimum of three SMART Recovery San Diego meetings (online or in-person) run by different facilitators to experience a range of meeting types and styles of facilitation. You can find all our meetings on the calendar
  • Familiarize yourself with the Meeting Introductory Script and the topic discussion scripts found on the Meeting Discussion Topics page (under Learn More) on our website. 
  • Learn more about SMART Recovery. This process will continue after you start facilitating your own meeting. Here are some resources:
  • Contact the Facilitator Training Committee to be added to the Google group and matched with a mentor. If you’ve already connected with a mentor, let them know.

Once You Have a Mentor:

  • Agree on how you will communicate and plan for your training.
  • Attend your mentor’s meeting regularly.
  • Meet with your mentor following each meeting for a brief review. Continue to meet for feedback and suggestions throughout your training.
  • When you are ready, facilitate your mentor’s meeting using the Meeting Introductory Script and a topic discussion script. Your mentor will be there for support.
  • Continue facilitating your mentor’s meeting until you and your mentor agree that you are ready to have your own meeting.
  • Establish your own meeting:
    • Discuss options for meeting times and places with your mentor. You can include the Facilitator Training Committee if needed. 
    • Your mentor will email the Facilitator Training Committee letting them know that you have completed the first phase of training and plans for their new meeting and copy the Zoom license manager for online meetings.
    • If you would like access to the SMART’s national VolunteerHQ, fill out this form.
    • For in-person meetings, email the website manager the following information to get your meeting on the calendar:
      • Date of the first meeting
      • Meeting name as you would like it to appear (e.g. Topic Meeting with Tom)
      • Day of the week
      • Start and end time
      • Your contact information 
      • Full address for your meeting
      • Whether you will provide verification of attendance after your meeting and if there are any requirements for verification 
      • Any additional information you would like included in the Event Description
      • Once you receive a confirmation that your meeting has been posted, it is your responsibility to verify that all information on the calendar is complete and correct
  • For online meetings, email the website manager the following information to get your meeting on the calendar:
    • Forward the emailed invitation to the Zoom meeting from the Zoom meeting information screen
    • Date of the first meeting
    • Meeting name as you would like it to appear (e.g. Topic Meeting with Tom)
    • Day of the week
    • Start and end time
    • Your contact information 
    • Whether you will provide verification of attendance after your meeting and if there are any requirements for verification 
    • Any additional information you would like included in the Event Description
    • Once you receive a confirmation that your meeting has been posted, it is your responsibility to verify that all information on the calendar is complete and correct
  • Remember to email your meeting reports each week and stay in touch with your mentor.

New facilitators may host one weekly meeting for their first six months and up to two meetings for the first year. This limitation allows us to support new facilitators and grow SMART San Diego in a sustainable way.

While we ask for a commitment of at least six months, some people find it so rewarding that they continue facilitating for years. Many point to their weekly meetings as a vital part of their own recovery. Our facilitators like that they continue to learn about the SMART approach and ways to address their unhelpful behaviors and thoughts. They enjoy the connections they’ve made and being part of a community. As you grow as a facilitator, we hope that you experience these benefits too.

Our Facilitator Mentorship Program

SMART Recovery San Diego has developed a mentorship program where new volunteers are paired with experienced facilitators as their main point of contact. The goal of the mentorship program is to provide all the necessary tools, resources, and individualized support a new volunteer might need to feel comfortable and confident in their role as a facilitator at a pace that supports individual needs.

Your role as a mentor is not to teach your mentee SMART, but to help them grow into a confident and capable facilitator. This involves using your facilitation experience to model good meeting management, answer questions, and provide support. You can begin mentoring after you’ve led your own meeting for at least one year. The formal mentorship for initial training is roughly three months, but often mentorships turn into friendships that last much longer. Mentors report that supporting new facilitators renews their enthusiasm for facilitating meetings and gives them greater connection to the SMART Recovery San Diego community.

People who are interested in becoming facilitators are expected to familiarize themselves with SMART and attend a variety of meetings before they are matched with a mentor. Once matched, they will attend your meeting, then help facilitate your meeting, start their own meeting that you attend, and then facilitate on their own. Our training program starts new facilitators with very structured meetings that rely on meeting scripts. New facilitators are expected to run scripted meetings for at least the first three months, but might choose to continue with these guided discussions indefinitely.

After three months, if you and your mentee agree, they can move to facilitating meetings as open discussions with a topic discussion script as a back-up plan. They could also create a meeting based on a tool or other progress-oriented information from the local and national SMART Recovery websites. As their skills and confidence grow, your mentee will become more independent, but you should continue to check in with them periodically and offer support over their first several months.

Read through the facilitator training guidelines above to familiarize yourself with the requirements and the training process.

Confirm that your mentee has read through the training guidelines, can meet the requirements, and has completed the initial steps of training. Reading through the training document together is one way to accomplish these two steps.

Establish expectations about communication and attending your meetings. Expect your mentee to attend a minimum of three meetings before moving to the next step, depending on their familiarity with SMART and previous experience.

Debrief after each of your meetings with your mentee. Answer their questions. Talk about the successes and challenges you experienced. Walk them through submitting a meeting report to the Google group.

When ready, have your mentee facilitate your meeting with you there for support. They will use the Meeting Introductory Script and a topic discussion script found with our Meeting Discussion Topics (under Learn More) on the website. They should run your meeting a number of times. Some start gradually, with the mentee guiding the meeting’s check-in and closing, while the mentor facilitates the discussion.

After each meeting your mentee facilitates, review it with them. Listen to their concerns and offer any constructive feedback you have.

When you and your mentee agree they are ready to run their own meeting:

  • Discuss options for meeting times and places with your mentee. You can include the Facilitator Training Committee if needed.
  • The mentor should email the Facilitator Training Committee letting them know that their mentee has completed the first phase of training. Copy the Zoom license manager [zoom@smartrecoverysd.org] on this email to have a Zoom license created for your mentee if they are running an online meeting.
  • The mentee should email the website manager with their meeting details to have it listed on the calendar. All necessary details are given above in the facilitator training guidelines. 

Attend at least your mentee’s first meeting to provide support. After the meeting, discuss how you each think it went.

Check in with your mentee periodically to provide support and answer questions.

After at least three months, if your mentee is ready to change the structure of their meeting to an open discussion or tool-oriented meeting relying on materials provided by SMART Recovery, contact the Facilitator Training Committee. They will guide you and your mentee through this transition.

Know that throughout the mentorship process, the Facilitator Training Committee is available to answer any questions and provide support to you as well as your mentee!

Facilitator Resources

Outline of Person

San Diego SMART Facilitator

“Facilitating a SMART Recovery meeting isn’t about being a sage or having all the answers. It’s about consistently showing up with the intention to create a welcoming and supportive space for people to come together.”