ADHD Coaching: What Is It?

coach 199x300 ADHD Coaching: What Is It?As part of the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, one has to have ‘impairment’ in functioning, in addition to the required number of symptoms.
In my experience, people often don’t put enough importance on the impact of  this impairment.

Having ADD/ADHD symptoms can be problematic on its own…
But the real issue is when your (or your child’s) functioning is impaired.

How does this show up?

In adult ADD/ADHD, impairment in functioning can come out in these types of situations:

  • Paying bills and keeping up with paperwork
  • Meetings
  • Setting goals and achieving them
  • Handling relationships
  • Coping with frustrations
  • and much more…

In child/teen ADD/ADHD, impairment in functioning can come out in these types of situations:

  • Homework
  • Completing tasks/chores
  • Handling frustration
  • Social situations
  • Listening to and following instructions
  • And much more…

While all treatments for ADD/ADHD aim to improve functioning – they don’t always succeed. Medication can have a big impact on ADD/ADHD symptoms, and can often have an impact on functioning. Though often the improvement in functioning is not enough with medication on its own.

We aim for ‘multi-modal’ treatment – i.e. treatment which includes medication, as well as other modalities to help, because ‘pills don’t teach skills’.

One modality which has grown in its popularity and usefulness in the field of ADD/ADHD treatment is coaching.

What is coaching for ADD/ADHD?

Coaching for ADD/ADHD starts with a trained coach. Coaches who specialize in working with ADD/ADHD are trained life coaches, and may be certified by the ICF – the International Coach Federation, or other organizations like the International Association of Coaches (IAC) or others. In addition to having this qualification, ADD/ADHD coaches also specialize in ADD/ADHD (and they have taken specialized training in ADD coaching from organizations like: ADD Coaching Academy (or others))- so that they can tailor the coaching methodology to suit the specific needs of individuals with ADD/ADHD.

What Do ADD Coaches Do?

ADD/ADHD Coaches work with people in a collaborative way. Whereas therapy is often looking backward – i.e. at previous issues or challenges and how they can understood differently – coaches are forward focused – i.e. on functioning in the present and in the future.

ADD/ADHD Coaches help people to:

  • Find their strengths
  • Develop strategies for their areas of challenge
  • Pull in the resources they need
  • Develop skills to take care of themselves
  • And a whole lot more…

The coaching relationship is a very collaborative one – where the coach works with the individual to work on his/her own goals, challenges and issues.

The ADD/ADHD coach provides: accountability, support and encouragement.
When someone has been challenged with functional issues with their ADD/ADHD for some time – these three things can make a world of difference for someone who has been struggling.

How Does ADD/ADHD Coaching Work?

When someone works with an ADD/ADHD coach, they meet with their coach regularly. It is very common for these meetings, or appointments to occur on the telephone. There are times that someone can have sessions with their ADD/ADHD coach in an office (or even a coffee shop) for face to face sessions, but it is very common for telephone coaching to occur. Telephone coaching helps to eliminate the need for travel time, and it helps people to find a coach who suits them best, even if they are geographically far away from that coach.

In general, there would be a ‘getting to know you’ session, and the parameters of coaching would be discussed – so that the participant learns what he can expect from the coach, as well as the coaching process.

Then, there are coaching sessions which occur on a reasonably frequent basis – i.e. 2-4 times per month. Many coaches also include ‘check in’ emails on a more frequent basis. These emails help people to be more accountable, and to have more ongoing support between coaching calls.

How much does ADD/ADHD coaching cost?

Prices can vary – depending on the coach’s experience, and their expertise. For example – a new coach would charge less than someone who has been doing this for years. It is common for people to pay $300-$400 per month for the personalized support of an ADD coach.

Group coaching is an option which can make it more affordable for people to participate in ADD/ADHD coaching. This way, there is less personalized attention, yet the person is able to still benefit from the coaching process. Group coaching is less expensive, and thus it is often easier for people to participate in.

Does ADD/ADHD Coaching Work for Adults, Teens and Kids with ADHD?

ADD coaching has been done with adults right from its start. When an adult engages in coaching, he/she can take responsibility for his/her participation in the process and benefit from it.

When coaching is done with kids or teens with ADHD, it can be much harder. This can relate to many issues – including a child or teen’s comprehension of what is going on (i.e. do they even attribute problematic behaviors to their own symptoms or actions?), or their desire to work on challenging or frustrating issues. My understanding is that for older teens, ADD coaching can be a lot more helpful than for young kids.

That said, as with behavioral treatments for kids and teens with ADD/ADHD, when the parents learn the specific skills, they can help to support their child or teen with these on a day to day basis. Thus, if parents learn the skills that an ADD coach can provide, it can help the child or teen significantly.

Resources which you may be interested in:

This article is meant to be an introduction to coaching for ADD/ADHD. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Please let us know: Have you ever considered coaching for ADD/ADHD? Have you ever tried it?

Please share your comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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Comments

  1. I have mentioned the Aisling Group, which is a group that is run by the Brandenburg Orginization. They consist of teachers, therapists, social workers and specialists in helping children with these problems. They have classes in a few scattered schools that are geared to different age groups. The include education and any areas where special help is needed. It also includes behaviour problems. It has helped a number of children and it is free. If a child needs more extensive help, they are treated at different places that may include day treatment. The are some that have F.A.S. and Autism too. They have offices here in Scarborough, and I can send you more information so you can check it out. It has made a great difference for my grandson. It is good to know that there are coaches to help. The above group also does coach kids and helps their parents too. Thanks Nora

  2. Kenny,
    Thanks for writing this very helpful article. It is an informative overview of coaching and hopefully, will cause folks to inquire deeper into the process, as coaching is a process rather than the quick fix some folks want. Are you planning to come to the ACO Conference, 4/29 – 5/1, in Chicago? If so, I’ll look forward to seeing you there!
    Shalom,
    Dee

  3. Hello Kenny,

    it is wonderful to see your newsletter highlight a very large and important aspect of the diverse interventions for the person with ADHD – coaching. I have had many helath care professionals and clients say to me “Ok, – I’m taking the medication, and it is helping, but I still don’t know how to make my life really work!” The old “pills don’t teach skills” routine. And that’s of course where coaching comes in.

    However, I do beg to differ with the author’s comment that ICF certification is required. I believe it is neither accurate, and it is too early in the professionalization of coaching to say this. The most important qualities are to have a thorough understanding of ADHD, a thorough training in coaching from an accredited ortganization, a passion to work tirelessly in partnership with those impacted by ADHD, and a desire to keep their learning current on all fronts.

    I know excellent coaches who have ADHD (and thus a thorough and realistic understanding) as well as years of experience in our educational systems, our healthcare systems who are not ICF members at this point. many practitioners have had years of formal training in assessment, evidence based practice principles, and many of the cormorbidities often associated with ADHD.

    I support ICF 100%, and although I belong, I am not yet an accredited member. I am also a member of CADDAC, CADDRa, ACO and ADDA. I have graduated from an intensive coaching course (ADDCA) which specializes in ADHD. I have ADHD. I also have 35 years of experience as a professional in our healthcare system.

    My passion is working with people immpacted by ADHD.

    So it is for these reason I disagree with “Coaches who specialize in working with ADD/ADHD are trained life coaches and are also certified by the ICF. ”

    Thank you for listening!!

  4. As an adult with AD/HD, married to an (undiagnosed) AD/HD’er, and step mom to a child with AD/HD, I would absolutely love to have an AD/HD coach. I believe that a coach could be very helpful to myself and my family. The problem is the expense. As is common with AD/HD’ers I am disorganized and have issues with money and debt. This makes it difficult for me to come up with the money to pay for a coach. I realize a coach can help with these things, but the cost seems to be higher than what I can really afford.

  5. Thank you Kenny for your article about ADHD Coaching and your service to this community of treatment providers and consumers. I offer two thoughts in response and two additional resources:

    1. Coaching is indeed a wonderful intervention that does indeed empower the students and adults to develop skills and strategies to cope with the challenges of ADHD. What is most wonderful about coaching is that it accesses the challenges within the larger picture of the individual and his/her strengths, passions, and resources. This widens the circle of tools and energies to harness. For example, one of my clients was much better able to focus at work as soon as he could articulate and take action on a long-standing dream to write a book. In his case, focusing on the difficulties themselves was not the full answer for him. He felt restless – like he was missing a sense of purpose that in his case work did not provide. He had to gaze beyond – to his horizon – to be motivated (stimulated) enough to come back around to addressing difficulties of focus at work.

    So, in effect, coaching addresses our energy. It aligns that energy for the best possible result for a human being who happens to have a brain wiring that makes this energy alignment so crucial.

    2. Regarding the statement “Coaches who specialize in working with ADD/ADHD are trained life coaches, and are certified by the ICF”… It is absolutely true that ADHD coaches are trained coaches. However, not all ADHD Coaches are officially certified coaches in accordance with the International Coach Federation (ICF) standards. Though such coaches may qualify in terms of skill, experience, etc. they may not have gone through the process or alternatively may have chosen to become certified with the International Association for Coaches (IAC), a smaller coach certifying body.

    3. One more resource for ADHD Coaching:
    The Edge Foundation (http://edgefoundation.org) is a non-profit organization committed to making ADHD coaching available and effective for students. They are fulfilling this endeavor by providing a standardized method of coach training and thereby a roster of coaches trained in this manner. Additionally, they are sponsoring research for ADHD coaching efficacy. Edge Foundation also provides the possibility for coach payment subsidies to eligible students. A recent study showing that ADHD coaching is correlated with improved executive functioning amongst college students was published thanks to Edge Foundation’s sponsorship. Please check out this study here. http://edgestaging.gregwyckoff.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Edge-Report-11-10-exec-summary.pdf

    Many thanks to this endorsement of ADHD coaching Kenny! I am sold on it of course.

    Cheers
    Ose

  6. Interested???! I’ve searched for help. I have books for parents, books about children, articles that touch on symptoms, etc., for Adults, but I have yet to find real, practical help!!

    I go to a counselor and have for about 4 years for general purposes (there’s always something going on in my life so I keep going 1-2 times /month.) Even he has no resources – books, groups, etc- as this is not his specialty, but we do discuss strategies to help me with whatever I’m going through at the time.

    I have a MA in Clinical Counseling and I’m a nurse. I’m SURE I’ve lost jobs due to my inability to focus and difficulty completing tasks even though I consider myself an exceptional nurse in areas of nursing skills and my connection with patients. Even knowing that and planning how I will do things differently every single shift for 18 months, I could not succeed at wrapping up my work and finally lost my job.

    I’m currently on unemployment but can’t seem to pull a resume together although I have all the details on file and have edited it dozens of times. The finished product is not happening!!

    I do have a good Family Doctor who has me on Vyvanse which has helped a lot, but what’s missing is STRATEGIES tailored to my life and work which would require, I’ve thought for a long time, individual COACHING!!

    This has been something I’ve recognized for nearly a year and have thought it would FILL A HUGE GAP in the helping profession that I would work with someone and CREATE SUCH A SERVICE!! Even a support group for Adults with ADD in my area would help those like me to not feel so alone AND to learn from others what works for them.

    Such a group should be cost-effective (much like 12-step groups, which are self supporting through members’ contributions), easy to find, and should meet several times during the week. Even two people meeting regularly would be be more effective than NO support or cost-prohibitive counseling/coaching! Then, if individuals needed more intensive treatment, the group should have references available.

    If I personally do not find something soon, I’m thinking of putting the word out and determining the degree of interest in my area – because I need it!

    My hesitation lies in the fact that I KNOW I have the tendency to start things and not follow through for any length of time. I’d hate to fail at what I start and need myself. Someone or something (like a clock to punch) is needed for ADDers like me to be consistent and successful. A “pacer car,” if you will.

    I have a friend (the precious gentleman I’ve been seeing for 3 years) who recognizes this, gave it the name “pacer car,” and will act in this role for a few times, then stops because he thinks I “should have it by now.” It’s not worth burdening our relationship with my “lack of self-control” or my “being so inconsiderate that I forget what time it is and run late,” so I compensate, set alarms, try harder & hope for tolerance and love from him. I really need someone ELSE who can help me so he & I can just enjoy each other.

    I am 54 years old, was diagnosed about 5 years ago, and this is the story of MY ENTIRE LIFE. “Pokey Paula.” “Always Distracted” There is nothing slow about me, but I get so sidetracked (I definitely enjoy the journey!) and tend to be overly thorough about things that they take me way too long and the wrapping up part is ALWAYS a high-stress event, whether it’s a long-term project or just getting anywhere on time.

    I’m sure there are others who can relate to my experience. This is a rare moment (I’m not out of bed yet at 12:20 pm & have an appointment at 1pm!!!) that I’m focused long enough to stop and type this. My counselor understands and I plan to bring him a copy of this to discuss it today.

    Time to start the whirlwind that is me getting out the door in 15 min. If there’s any REAL help for me and those like me, please share. I will be

    Forever grateful,

    Paula Loe

    I

  7. Does anyone know of a good ADHD coach in the Burnaby/Vancouver, B.C. area for a 10 year old boy?

    Thanks for this Dr. Handleman!

  8. Ideas for those interested in pursuing ADHD coaching but have not much funding:
    1.There is a book called “The Disorganized Mind” by Nancy Ratey. This book discusses the concept of self-coaching – that is, applying ADHD coaching without formal coaching. This might be something one could read in collaboration with one or two other folks also interested in making changes.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312355343?ie=UTF8&tag=adhdtelesemin-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0312355343

    2. if you have a health savings plan, you may be able to pay for coaching with such tax-free funds. That of course has to be arranged in advance.

    3. There may be coaches-in-training who are interested in offering coaching for a much lower fee than market rate. The best place to inquire about that is ADHD Coaches Organization http://adhdcoaches.org. If you are interested, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to post something on your behalf to our listserv.

    Best wishes!!!

    Ose
    ose@potentiavita.com

  9. I am SO interested in, and in dire need of, coaching, but am encountering a couple road blocks.
    For one, I have yet to be able to locate someone in my area. Seems that most help is located down towards NYC. Same for support groups…nothing local.
    For two, I have no money to pay for a coach.
    It frustrates me that my HMO will pay for meds and for therapy, but won’t pay for coaching. I feel as though being equipped with the skills to live successfully would actually benefit the HMO in the long term because my depression would undoubtedly subside quite a bit, as would all of the stress-related conditions I have that are impacted by my not being able to function, which would therefore decrease the cost of me as an HMO “customer”.
    I just want to get better and want my family to benefit from having a mother that has her life together, but I feel stuck.

  10. This Topic caught my eye. I understand coaching can be very expensive so that lets me I spoke with someone with EAP and asked if there were any workbooks for Adults for ADD. She was not aware of any and she asked her other collegues and they couldn’t come up with anything specifis for Adults with ADD. I believe there are for Children, but that let’s me out. Does anybody know of any such workbook for Adults. I am in seriesous need of one.

  11. ADD Coaches provide accountability, support and encouragement…. hmmm, maybe its just me, but I have always seen these provisions as a parental responsibility. However, I can appreciate the potential of a coach. My husband and I have considered ‘coaching’ b/c we are just plain whooped from the day to day grind of keeping our 14 yr old (ADD) daughter on task–and let’s not forget her resistance to our efforts, given her age. Taking ourselves out of the equation is certainly tempting. But seriously? We can not afford $300-400/month. We already have a tutor come in twice weekly, to help our daughter stay on task during homework and to give me a much needed break from the homework ‘wars’. Around here, we have to take things an hour at a time–getting through one day can be exhausting. So I am having difficulty understanding how having our daughter talk to coach 2-4 x month will help her function better on a daily basis. She’s lacking attention and focus. She does not lack our support, encouragement or expectations of accountability. Am I missing something here?

  12. Dr. Kenny
    I have to say that I have definitely considered coaching as a way to help those with ADHD, myself included. When my granddaughter was diagnosed at age 7 (she is now 21), my parents and her mother pooh poohed the idea and went on business as usual telling her to try harder. When the pediatric neurologist cited the reasons why he came to that diagnosis my daughter and I looked at each other and said: “that’s me” and my daughter added: “yes and my grandparents and brother too!! Still I was the only one in the family to do research to see how we could work with this new found knowledge. I read your “Distraction” and other books, Melissa Orlov emails on marriage are helping, I read Sari Solden and others and tried to share this with the family, all to no avail. To this day all are still in denial big time and their lives are very difficult. Still, from what I continue to learn from you and others, I use to the best of my ability to help them and others that clearly have ADHD or induced ADHD. So really, for the past 14 years I have been coaching, I just don’t have the formal credentials!

  13. Self help meetings teach alot of the same things that a coach will, and they are free….It’s a start anyways

  14. Thank you all for your great comments.
    1) I have edited the original post to fix the ICF comment – thanks for the correction.
    2) I have a resource that I am working on – which I will share in the next day or two – to help coaching to be more accessible for those of you who were saying that you are interested, yet unable to afford full cost ADD coaching.

  15. Great Article! Every time I think about a child (person) with a learning disability I ask the question: Is drugging the child a vitalistic approach? Will that drug raise that child’s health so that he / she can be more, do more and achieve a greater impact on fellow human beings. The research is out – and the answer is NO. You must understand that a child that cannot learn will not be any brighter while being drugged. Interestingly, MD’s in the US prescribe five times the quantity of stimulants for children as MD’s in other countries. Many parents worry about drugging their children for multiple reasons. Their thoughts “Is there another way?” Absolutely! Chiropractic offers a child the ability to be at their best without drugs. As a parent I urge you to get your child’s spine evaluated to see if chiropractic can help your child. When as humanitarians are we going to stop lowering self achievement and start to deal with the cause of the problem? Healthier people for a healthier planet.

  16. I thought this kind of behavior were normal because they were just a child,
    but when i read you article idea’s come up and i must do something to prevent their attitude thank you for this

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