How ADHD Coaches Drive Real Results

If you've tried medication, counseling, and every other alternative therapy out there, ADHD coaching might be the next step in your treatment plan.

Man yelling into megaphone to symbolize ADHD coaching

Recipe for Successful Coaching

Be honest. Honesty is the best policy when working with a coach. You must be honest with your coach about whether you completed an assignment or tried something you were asked to do. If you don't, you are sabotaging the relationship. When you work with a coach, everything is celebrated—successes and failures. If you aren't willing to fail, you aren't trying to succeed. Your coach should create an environment in which you can be honest about your toughest challenges.

Give your coach permission to be honest with you. Sometimes it's hard to hear things about ourselves that other people notice. But that's the power of coaching. Your coach should be able to tell you when she notices you are moving away from your goals.

Be willing to work at change. You should have a desire to change when you work with a coach. You will be taking action and creating new habits. The change you seek should something that's important to you, not necessarily to your spouse, parent, or employer.


Coaching is a powerful treatment for many people with ADD. Knowing what you want your future to look like is an important part of coaching. The most common question ADHD coaches ask is "What do you want?" The answers to this question will let you develop a "metaview," a big-picture perspective. ADD people tend to struggle with this.

I use garden metaphors to help clients see the big picture. I ask them what they would like the landscape of their life to look like, the type of "flowers" they want to plant, and the care the garden is going to require. Clients often find that they spend too much time nurturing a flower they don't like while neglecting another more important part of their garden.

Reaching a goal that you didn't think you could reach brings a great feeling. Most people come to coaching fearing that they will never be organized or successful in a job because of their ADD. A significant moment for ADDers is when they are asked: "OK, you have ADD. How do you want to be with it? How do you want to show up in life, given that you have attention deficit? You have some choices here. What do you want?"

With the help of a coach, clients learn to take a 360-view of what it will take to achieve their goal:
> What will I have when the goal is accomplished?
> What am I saying "yes" to by working toward my goal?
> What do I need to say "no" to in working toward my goal?
> What resources do I need to obtain or develop?
> What habits do I need to have in place?
> What has gotten in the way of realizing my goal in the past?
> What three things can I do differently from what I have tried in the past?
> By when do I want to accomplish my goal?

When you hire an ADD coach, he or she will likely ask you about your values. Your values are a thumbprint of who you are. They are the things you hold sacred, that you can't live without — love, family, honor, joy, honesty, and spirituality. They can be turned to when making decisions, trying to understand interpersonal relationships, and overcoming procrastination. Discovering your values is a starting point that gives you a sense of direction and ownership of your goals.

Overcome Roadblocks

Coaching encourages the client to confront the roadblocks in the way toward achieving her goal and to look at them from different perspectives to see what she can learn about them. Some of the common roadblocks ADDers face are fear of failure, fear of success and responsibility, loneliness, rejection, sadness, emptiness, and fear of commitment.

Good coaching invites people to be challenged in a way that holds them in a soft, friendly light. The coach creates an environment in which risk-taking is safe. When a client takes a risk, it shows that she is taking action and moving in the direction of her goal. People with ADD who have had a long list of failures are relieved. By breaking through a roadblock, they develop more confidence. This, in turn, gives them momentum to move toward their goals. ADDers have a strong drive for stimulation, so once they set a goal that is important, they are hard to stop.

Here are some comments from my clients who have used ADD coaching to achieve their goal: "I feel like I lost weight in a whole different way!" "I am living a life of intention." "This is more powerful than any therapy I've ever done." "When someone else starts to believe in you, you start to believe in yourself." "I feel more focused and aware of the choices I make." "The belief that I was very disorganized disappeared."

How to Get Started

Although professionals conduct ADD coaching in various ways, the format at the Amen Clinics looks like this. The client attends an initial one-on-one meeting that usually runs for two to three hours. The meeting can be done over the phone, if distance is a factor.

At the initial meeting, clients identify several areas that they want to focus on with the coach. They assess where they are and start to identify actions and habits that will move them toward their goals.

Some areas of focus might be: > to create and follow a regular schedule for routines, personally and professionally > to break rigid thought patterns > to better follow through on commitments > to create and follow a consistent exercise program.

The coach's role is to hold the focus for the clients in pursuing goals. A client with ADD sometimes forgets why he came to coaching or why he wanted to make changes in his life. A coach keeps him pointed toward his goals and reminds him, especially when the going gets tough, of what he is trying to achieve.

Coaching sessions after the initial meeting take place over the phone for 30 minutes a week. Some clients prefer meeting in the office for an hour once a week, or twice a week for 15 or 30 minutes. Some coaches include a daily check-in period via phone, e-mail, or text to help with accountability.

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TAGS: ADHD Coaching, Organization Tips for ADD Adults

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