How to Hire an ADHD Coach, Part 2
Sign on the Dotted Line
Once you’ve chosen a coach, you usually have to sign an agreement or contract. “Many coaches use three-month agreements, and some ask for full payment up front,” says Novotni. “There is good reason for this. Around the fourth or fifth week, most clients lose interest in the process.
If they commit to three months, they tend to stick with it, and they usually make progress during that time.” After three months, most coaches require month-long agreements. As with other professional services, missed sessions or cancellations, without 24-hour notice, will incur a standard session charge.
Because life coaching—especially ADHD life coaching—is a relatively new field, there aren’t statistics on the average cost for a session. Costs are comparable to therapy, say some experts, and can range from pro bono sessions up to $1,500 a month, with the average falling between $300 and $600 a month.
Most coaches take credit cards, but rarely use a sliding scale for fees. Insurance plans don’t typically cover coaching, but there may be other ways to defray the expense.
Says Novotni: “Ask your human resources department about possibly picking up the cost. I’ve been hired by employers to coach employees who are having trouble in the workplace.” Dee Crane has worked with clients who pay through their flexible spending accounts offered by their employers.
Another option is to ask your physician to write a prescription for coaching, the cost of which may be written off on your taxes.
After you’ve signed and returned the agreement, you and the coach will schedule your first session—on the telephone, by webcam, or in person. Expect the first meeting—called an “intake” or “foundation” session—to take longer (between one and two hours) than the ones that will follow because the coach will want to get to know you.
She will ask, What strategies are working for you? What do you think are your biggest problems? What would you like to accomplish? Why do you think you need a coach?
During the first session, tell her specifically what issue you want to address, and, along with the coach, plot the steps to achieve this. The coach will assign you homework, and subsequent sessions will often begin with a review of the assignment.
Says Wright: “Coaches may ask, ‘What did you get done that you planned to get done? What didn’t you get done? Did anything come up that derailed you, or presented a major problem? What strategies might we try to sidestep the problem? Is there anything in particular you’d like to work on today?’”
Doing homework is critical to making progress. “Coaching is a partnership, but the client is in charge,” says Novotni. “Coaches are not there to nag. We’re there for support, to ask questions that get people thinking about whether certain strategies work.” If they don’t work, it’s the coach’s job to suggest others.
Clients should be clear about the kind of support they want—having the coach call or e-mail them between sessions to troubleshoot, or to reserve discussion of problems for the next session.
A coach should cheer your successes and tweak those strategies that didn’t work. “Sometimes the same goals will remain on the to-do list for weeks,” says Wright. “In such cases, the coach might say, ‘Why isn’t this one moving? Is it not that important to you? What’s getting in the way?’ The coach monitors your progress and fine-tunes strategies until you get results.” If you feel that the strategies she’s suggesting aren’t working, ask her to come up with new ones.
Making Progress—Or Not
You should see small improvements—whether in controlling clutter on your desk or your child’s finishing his homework in a tough subject a little quicker—after the first session.
Improvement should continue during the first month, but clients’ interest and resolve often lag around the fifth week. “This is a pattern that many clients experience,” says Wright. “Change doesn’t seem as exciting after the first month. I warn my clients that this will happen, and that this doesn’t mean they’re not succeeding.”
But what if you don’t make progress—or you stop clicking with the coach? A good coach, say experts, will probably notice the problem before you do, and will gladly discuss how to proceed. The coaching relationship is most effective when you honestly feel that a coach has your best interest at heart and sees you as more than a paycheck. If, however, your coach has exhausted her strategies and you are no closer to achieving your goal, find another professional.
“I worked with a woman for three months on her goal of succeeding in her job,” says Novotni. “After trying several strategies, it felt as if we were putting a square peg into a round hole. So she changed goals—she wanted a new job that suited her strengths—and now she’s elated.”
The coach should give you a plan at each session, and provide perspective on mistakes you may have made. “Sometimes clients come in feeling demoralized, and they say, ‘I had a bad week. It didn’t work. I said something stupid,’” says Wright.
“A good coach should put those feelings in perspective—called ‘normalizing’ and ‘endorsing’—by focusing on what you did accomplish.” It’s important to remember that if a coach bad-mouths you at any point, you need to call him on it or find a new coach.
Crane and other coaching experts say that a good gauge of progress is when you start solving problems that used to overwhelm you. “The coach isn’t there to fix you, because you’re not broken. She’s there to empower you to achieve your goals,” says Crane.
Sessions are usually weekly for the first three to six months. When you and the coach finally identify the strategies for achieving your goals, sessions are often cut back to bi-weekly or even monthly.
In most cases, coaching isn’t a long-term commitment. Once you’ve internalized the strategies, regular sessions become unnecessary, although most coaches are willing to be called for “tune-ups.” As new life stages or new challenges crop up, a client might come back and say, “Hey, my first child is getting married. I’m not sure how to meet the challenges.” Says Crane, “I’ve coached some clients for six or seven years, seeing them every six months.
Coaching becomes a tool, a resource. The real goal of coaching is to change how you perceive yourself and, ultimately, teach you how to coach yourself. As a client, you should expect nothing less.”