To acquire a sponsor in a 12-step alcoholic program, a member must ask the prospective sponsor and the sponsor must agree. Choosing a sponsor is a personal process, but the sponsor should be secure in his sobriety and have more experience with the program than the person he is sponsoring.
The role of a sponsor in a 12-step program is to provide guidance and support. Usually, members who have worked the steps and have been in the program longer are best suited to this role. In addition, a sponsor must be available at all times to support the newer member should he feel the urge to relapse, so needs to have available time and a local presence. A good sponsor is able to provide honest feedback and recognise the signs of an approaching relapse.
As romantic feelings may compromise the therapeutic value of the relationship, it is recommended that an individual choose a sponsor of a gender to which he is not attracted. Because sponsors are often entrusted with sensitive personal information about the people they are sponsoring, it is important that the sponsor be discrete and non-judgemental. Those seeking sponsors are advised to trust their intuition when choosing a prospective sponsor.