Ask the Experts

Q: Does My Teen Need an ADHD Life Coach?

In college, forging social connections takes more work, balancing academics with life takes more careful consideration, and managing a busy calendar takes more executive function. For all these reasons and more, an ADHD coach might make a huge difference.

Q: “My son’s executive function and social learning challenges have caused him to have a less-than-desirable first year of college, so we are planning to try some new approaches starting over summer break to prepare him for a better upcoming year. I have made an appointment with a local therapist (female) who specializes in ADHD, but I wonder if he might benefit from more male-oriented social strategies. I have tried coaching him myself, but that was not effective, so I am planning to set up a consultation with a professional ADHD coach in the next few weeks. Do you think this is an appropriate plan to help my son, and is there any other advice you may have to offer us?” — Emptynestermom


Hi Emptynestermom:

I am so happy to answer this question! I work all day with college students and see first-hand how an academic/life coach can help a student feel more empowered and in control. The right coach can teach a student the skills he or she needs to be successful in learning and in life.

Notice that I said “the right coach.” Here is some food for thought.

  1. Make sure the coach you find specializes in college students. Some might disagree with me, but as a coach who specializes in college students I know you need a focus that is narrow and deep. I’m very aware of what my clients are experiencing both in the classroom and on campus.
  2. A college coach should focus on the “life” stuff just as much as the academics. And sometimes even more so. A wise man once told me that college was 30% academics and 70% everything else — and that last part was going to be critical toward my success in the “real world!” And he was right!

Many of my student sessions don’t even touch on study skills or time management. We spend our time talking about balancing social concerns, how to handle a dispute among roommates, or even how to handle money or do laundry. If this is important to you and your son, seek out a coach who believes the same.

  1. Give your son a few ADHD coaches to try on for size. I can’t stress this enough. The coaching relationship is a very personal one, so you want to make sure you find the perfect fit. Set up two or three virtual meetings with prospective coaches and give your son the chance to try them on for size. Tip within a tip? DON’T let your son make a decision right on the spot. Have him interview everyone before deciding. As a coach, I do the same. I always tell the family I need time to process our meeting and will get back within 24 hours.
  2. Ask about process. Every coach coaches differently. For example, it is required that my students check in with me multiple times a week. Being able to support them when and where they need is essential to my work and their growth. So make sure to ask specific questions about each coach’s process. This will be essential to the ongoing success of your son.

Good luck!

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Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

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Updated on May 23, 2019

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