Is ADHD Coaching Right for You?
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
So you've been reading articles and looking around online for resources on ADHD and you've seen "ADHD coaching" pop up a few times. Wondering if it’s worth it? A quick lookup of coaching can be a little overwhelming. To complicate it, many sites use language like “maximize your potential!” or “turn your ADHD into your superpower!” But what does that even mean? And is it possible? Read on to get a better idea of how ADHD coaching works and if it’s a good fit for your needs.
What is ADHD Coaching?
Coaching, in a nutshell, is working with a trained professional to identify and accomplish your goals. That may not sound like a lot, but hold on. Most of us need help setting the right goals, identifying roadblocks, and following through with our plans to be successful.
This is where coaches come in. The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as: “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” A simpler way to put this is: coaches help you be successful at making and integrating changes in your life. Coaches help you tap into your own resourcefulness, build necessary skills, identify thinking that may sabotage your progress, and stay on track.
The added benefit of working with an ADHD coach is that they have specific skills, knowledge, and resources to support clients with executive functioning challenges. According to ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association), "ADHD Coaches support their clients in developing a comprehensive understanding of both the nature of AD/HD and the impact of AD/HD on their client’s quality of life." This is true at all levels, from recently diagnosed to those managing their ADHD symptoms for decades.
Coaches help you tap into your own resourcefulness, build necessary skills, identify thinking that may sabotage your progress, and stay on track.
What Does the Science Say About ADHD Coaching?
Evidence is coming in that adding a coach to your treatment plan is more successful than just medication and behavior therapy alone. This is true for everyone, from teens to adults.
A 2018 review of 19 independent studies found that ADHD coaching improved executive functioning and reduced the negative effects associated with ADHD. Six of those papers also reported that participants had an improved sense of well-being by the end of coaching.
Although the field is still new, evidence suggests that coaching helps people get their lives back on track and start making those big changes derailed by ADHD (or life). Sounds pretty good, right?
Are You Coachable?
Before you run out and sign up, there are a few things you need to consider. Coaching requires a coachable mindset and coachability. Below are a few reasons why you might not experience the same benefits from coaching as reported in the trials mentioned above. You can take steps to meet most criteria. Even in the midst of coaching, it is important to keep this list in mind. If circumstances change, you may need to let your coach know that you need to take a break until you are fully coachable again.
Stop and ask yourself: am I coachable? Check below:
1. Coaching is advised for people over 14 since it leans heavily on personal resourcefulness and an individual's ability to reflect.
2. Address co-existing mental health needs before starting coaching. Plan on making sure that you seek out the proper support and treatment for any existing underlying conditions before reaching out to coaches. Otherwise, your coach may ask you to start here before agreeing to work with you. It's important to remember that coaching is not therapy.
3. Get comfortable with opening up. You don’t need to be the most self-aware person to participate in coaching. It’s ok if it’s a little hard to articulate your inner processes and thoughts. That’s where a good coach will step in to help you “see” yourself more clearly. However, it is important to be able, and willing, to take a good look at your life, your values, and where you might be tripping yourself up. If you get overly defensive, or shut down, in these sorts of vulnerable conversations, you should address this first.
Quick Tip! If you're worried about certain topics, or if coaching can be triggering, rest assured that it is absolutely ok, and expected, that you share at your comfort level. You can stop and take a relaxation break or even end the session early if needed. What you discuss in coaching is completely up to you.
4. Can you make time in your life? This is a big one. If the only time you can invest in coaching is your once-a-week session, it might not work out. Coaching sessions are the jumping-off point for the progress you’re trying to make each week. It does take time and energy to work on personal growth. It’s up to you to decide how much time you need to set aside for this and what makes sense with your schedule.
Coincidentally, coaching can be fabulous if you’re going through a bunch of transitions and changes. It ultimately depends on you. Just don’t take it on if it’s going to be one more thing you feel like you’re not getting done each week.
5. Is coaching your idea? Lastly, if you’re in the camp of only participating in coaching because you’re being forced to, please don’t. You must be invested in the process for it to be successful. This is especially true for teens still in high school. Please make sure that you want to work with a coach first and be clear on what you want to get out of the process.
Finding the Right Coach
Choosing the right coach is important for coaching to be a success. Coaching isn’t as regulated as some fields and, unfortunately, anyone can claim to be a coach. However, there has been a substantial amount of progress made in these past few years to standardize the profession and many coaches now have training from accredited organizations and credentials from established governing bodies (e.g. the International Coaching Federation).
Here are a few tips when looking for a coach:
Check that potential coaches have credentialing or approved coach training. It’s also a good idea to make sure that they have a clear professional code of ethics that they adhere to and can share with you.
Make sure that you have a trial call with any potential coaches. You’re going to be spending a lot of time talking with this person. If it's difficult to communicate or feel comfortable, move on. Even if the coach has an amazing resume.
Consider the type of coaching experience you want. Do you want 1 to 1 coaching or small group coaching? There are benefits to each and it’s important to consider what type of coaching experience you want.
How Much Does ADHD Coaching Cost?
Coaching is an investment in yourself, from your career to your personal happiness and relationships. And it’s for life. Consider it investing in your success. So, take a deep breath.
Coaching can typically cost anywhere from $75 - $250 per week. This is where group coaching comes in. It can be a more affordable, entry-level option for someone testing out the waters.
When researching coaches, keep in mind that some offer pre-paid packages while others charge per month or even weekly. Most require a minimum time commitment regardless of the fee schedule. Keep in mind what makes the most sense for your budget and make sure that you are clear on what you are getting, and for how long you are committing, before signing up.
Also, check for fees. These can include cancellations, no-shows, or early termination.
Coaching is an investment in yourself.
Realistic Expectations Set the Tone for Success
Coaching isn’t a miracle cure. Goals like “never procrastinating again” (looking at you all of my fellow ADHDers) aren’t reasonable. Goals should be realistic, attainable, and something that you feel personally committed to achieving. Coaching can be highly effective if your goals are more like this:
I want to feel like I’m in control, not my ADHD
I want to be more organized and increase productivity
I want to develop my leadership potential and apply for a new job
I want to live my life with more energy and fulfillment
I want to feel like my life has direction and purpose
I want to strategically map out college and my future career path
Click HERE for more examples of what people do in coaching
Also, be realistic about what you can accomplish through coaching. Everyone has a different starting line. A great quote I read once was: If you know one person with ADHD, then you know exactly one person with ADHD. Coaching helps you reframe what you thought was a weakness into a strength whenever possible. This means not everyone will walk away with the same results, as is the case for all ADHD treatments.
Is ADHD Coaching Worth It?
Ultimately, the goal of coaching for ADHD is that you come away feeling empowered, more in charge, and like you and your brain are on the same page. It can be life-changing. You might even feel like some of your unique traits are super-powered and help you be more successful. I think that’s worth exploring and capitalizing on. Especially if it just needs a little kick in the pants from coaching.
The goal of coaching for ADHD is that you come away feeling empowered, more in charge, and like you and your brain are on the same page. It can be life-changing.
Now that you know more about ADHD coaching, what to look for to have a positive experience, and your personal investment in the process, take some time to evaluate if this is a good next step for you. Write out a pros and cons list. Use this article and any of the following links to help:
CHADD Coaching Fact Sheet
Let me know if you have any questions about ADHD coaching in the comments below and check out the “How it works” page at BrainBrakes for more information.
Ahmann E, et al. (2018). A descriptive review of ADHD coaching research: Implications for college students. files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1182373.pdf