What is an Accountability Partner?

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Accountability means required or expected to justify actions or decisions. An accountability partner is someone willing to help you through a venture, which could be anything from running a marathon to recovering from drug addiction. You communicate with this person periodically about a particular topic. They are there to push you and hold you accountable for your actions.

For someone with an eating disorder, accountability partners assist each other in their recovery. They check up on each other regularly to advise on their disordered eating, and they might contact each other when symptoms or temptations are overwhelming.

Research on Accountability Partners in Addiction Recovery?

There isn’t a lot of research about addiction recovery and accountability partners. Though one study, conducted by the Department of Sociomedical Sciences of Columbia University, found that if a rehabilitation center encouraged responsibility between peers, recovery was more likely.

Researchers interviewed recovering addicts at a rehabilitation center for ten months. The pattern they uncovered was how influential accountability was. Individuals had a reciprocal sense of responsibility, both to and for each other. In that, recovering addicts felt responsible for providing and receiving support. The researchers speculated that created enhanced recovery.

My Experience

After returning from my year off, I had an accountability partner when I was in college. I took time off to wade through the worst of my eating disorder. When I came back, I wanted to do everything I could to heal, so I asked a staff member of the campus ministry I participated in to match me with someone who had recovered from an eating disorder. They paired me with Karlyn [name changed].

The experience was new for me; I never had a mentor before and wasn’t sure how to approach the situation. As Karlyn and I started to meet regularly, we mostly talked about our eating disorders, but sometimes the conversation varied. She asked me to share the positive and negative parts of my week, and she told me what worked for her.

The problem that I had with this relationship was that I wasn’t friends with Karlyn before. I didn’t know how to interact with her or talk to her about subjects other than disordered eating. I found that it was almost harder to discuss my problems with her. Which is nothing against her; Karlyn was a fantastic person and helped me recover.

Should You Get an Accountability Partner?

You may have an opportunity for an accountability partner or have thought about getting one. I made this quiz to help you determine if you should get a mentor. Hopefully, it gives you some reliable answers!

Internal VS External Thinkers

How to Utilize an Accountability Partner

  • Commit to Honesty. Don’t hide anything from your partner. The relationship won’t work if you don’t reveal all the relevant information to each other. Share everything, no matter how small or how hard it is.

  • Define the Relationship or Purpose of the Link. Expectations will define the relationship and determine its effectiveness. If you are both on the same page, you will have a more efficient connection.

  • Connect Regularly. The more you meet, the better the relationship. The more you meet, the more often you will be held accountable. The more you meet, the quicker and more natural recovery will be.

  • Touch Every Area of Life. Because your eating disorder is more than a physical issue, you need to talk about every aspect of life to recovery. Your accountability partner should know more about your life than just your disordered eating.

  • Positive/Encouragement. Don’t get together and complain. Recovery requires encouragement and affirmation. You can either laugh or cry, and I customarily prefer to laugh. Always find the bright side in your situation.

  • Be Prepared. As with anything, preparation will make the meeting more productive. What do you need help with that week? Did you find any fresh resources? What questions do you want to ask your partner? Have questions and answers ready.

  • Don’t Let Each Other Off the Hook. Don’t let anything slide, because you don’t want to go backward in your journey. That won’t get you anywhere. If the relationship is not helpful anymore, feel free to cut ties.

Questions to Ask Accountability Partner

  • Name one highlight and one valley of your week/month/etc.

  • Triggers? Have you discovered any new triggers? How often did you succumb to your triggers? Have you found any new strategies to combat triggers?

  • Any lies I can debunk? Any doubts about yourself, I can turn into affirmations?

  • Anything I can do to help you?

  • What’s going on in the other areas of life?

Further Reading:

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Hi! I'm Renae!

Progress Not Perfection Company (PNPCo) is a health coaching service for undiagnosed eating disorder survivors. We provide classes and one-on-one sessions focusing on fitness and nutrition with an emphasis on science and holistic health that will teach you to live a healthy lifestyle.

PNPCo is NOT about losing weight.

PNPCo is NOT about getting abs or a thigh gap.

PNPCo is NOT about selling you a magic pill.

Progress Not Perfection Company

It’s about returning to normal, healthy eating, exercising, and mentality. Progress Not Perfection Company will provide you with the information you need to live a healthy lifestyle. No "lose weight overnight," "get in shape in two weeks," or "solve all your problems with one easy class." Just straight facts, helpful tips, and progress, not perfection.

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