Sponsorship and Mentorship

Recently I was asked “what is the difference between having a sponsor and having a mentor?”

Wow. Good question.

Puzzling question too.

A sponsor in the Twelve Step tradition, as we discussed in a previous blog post, originally was intended as a point of contact for a family who was faced with having to deal with serious illness or death of a family member due to alcoholism.

Over time, a sponsor became someone who had worked through all Twelve Steps with their own sponsor, and as an act of completing their own twelfth step then turned around and began sponsoring someone else through the twelve steps.

Today, sponsorship is a commonly used and readily understood term. Even those who have no personal first or secondhand experience with the Twelve Step communities often understand what is meant by a “sponsor”.

In fact, now that I think about it, not once in all the years I have worked in and around the recovery community has anyone (whether they knew of my work or not) ever asked me, “What is a sponsor?”

That is actually pretty cool.