Pandemic Stress Has Upended Life. Maybe an ADHD Coach Can Help.
Stress caused by these uneasy times may at least be partially alleviated by seeing an ADHD coach who can offer practical strategies for time management, organization, executive function, and focus — skills in high demand while working and/or schooling from home in the midst of a pandemic.
Life is this pandemic is altered as we know it. Parents are struggling to become homeschooling masters overnight. Office workers and college students banished from their physical workspaces and campuses are trying to nail down instantly productive telecommuting and remote learning. Those who must leave the house are on guard — hyper-aware of their surroundings, of how much they touch their face, and how many feet apart they stand from others. When will life return to some level of normalcy? No one knows.
The adjustments — and the uncertainty — are exhausting, especially for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), many of whom struggle with transitions and unanticipated change. If stress due to this never-before-seen respiratory disease is impacting your health and wellbeing, an ADHD coach might be an option worth researching.
How Can an ADHD Coach Help?
ADHD coaches work closely with their clients to outline what they need to succeed, with a special focus on ADHD-related problems such as executive dysfunction that can get in the way of meeting goals.
The changes to daily life brought about by the disease can be better managed with an ADHD coach, according to Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, founder of JST Coaching & Training, a coaching training provider. These challenges may include:
- Transitioning from being able to be out and suddenly being stuck at home
- Managing unstructured time with kids
- Keeping motivated to complete work and school assignments amid at-home distractions
- Setting boundaries when sharing cramped spaces with others for extended periods
- Coping with major changes in plans and goals
- Finding the time for self-care
- Maintaining strong connections with friends and family
“Well-trained, certified coaches know how to support individuals and families during times of transition, stress, and uncertainty,” Sleeper-Triplett wrote in her blog. “It is comforting to have a partner as you explore new situations and look for the best path for yourself and your family.”
How Does ADHD Coaching Work?
“Our job is to ask questions to help the person that we’re coaching figure out what to do,” Sleeper-Triplett told ADDitude.
A college student who has been told to pack their bags and go home, for example, may have trouble with the transition moving back home after being independent. “How do you suddenly get under your parents’ roof, with no warning, and have to manage that adult-to-adult relationship?” she said. Carving out a private space to study and work, and dealing with interruptions and boundaries, are problems that can spring up.
An ADHD coach can help by role-playing effective conversations with parents and checking in to see if specific goals were met. “Coaching shifts behavior,” she said. “We’re shifting behavior through the coaching process of gentle reminders, checking in, setting goals — it just leads to more success.”
ADHD coaches typically meet with clients every week, and keep in touch in between meetings with text-messages, e-mails, video calls, and other forms of instant communication — a feature Sleeper-Triplett says is commonplace in and somewhat unique to ADHD coaching.
But as social distancing becomes the norm, the remote nature of coaching can make it all the more useful and practical. “It’s that connection that makes such a difference,” she said, noting that she’s heard from a few coaches who said their phones are now “ringing off the hook” with calls from both from existing and prospective clients.
“Especially in this time, I would encourage individuals to ask [coaches] for a little tighter accountability,” she said. “It hurts me to think how all these people’s lives have been turned upside down.”
How Much Does ADHD Coaching Cost?
ADHD coaching can cost, on average, $300 to $500 a month. Pricing depends on experience and other factors. It’s helpful to think about pricing per week, which takes into account one session, and then check-in availability in between.
If the prospect of ADHD coaching sounds appealing, but money is tight, as is the case for millions across the country, Sleeper-Triplett encourages individuals to be direct.
“Just ask, ‘Can I get a reduced rate during this period of time?’ There are so many coaches who would be willing to take people on,” she said. “We all have hearts right now.” Many coaches also take on some pro-bono clients or have a sliding scale payment system.
Is an ADHD Coach Right for Me?
Managing this temporary new way of life — with daunting news updates and threats seemingly everywhere — has been overwhelming for many. Fear, anxiety, frustration, and a sense of helplessness are tangled in the mix as individuals attempt to steady themselves and cope with changes to daily routines and long-held plans.
“During this time,” Sleeper-Triplett says, “the lack of motivation that can overtake people when they’re so stressed — the anxiety, and frustration — can be really hard on people with ADHD.”
ADHD coaches do address aspects of self-care, like making sure clients are eating right, exercising, and practicing mindfulness. But when coaching doesn’t seem to be working, the client may need the help of a therapist who can address underlying issues.
“When a person is being coached and the anxiety is going up, that’s the time to have that conversation,” she said, noting that ADHD coaches deal with actions, not emotions. “We refer out regularly, but it doesn’t mean that the person can’t have therapy and coaching.”
Individuals who may benefit from therapy need not leave the house for help, even if it’s their first time participating. Many insurance companies and programs have implemented measures that have made it easier for individuals to seek mental telehealth services in their homes.1 2 Therapists are already reporting a rise in demand for teletherapy sessions 3, and teletherapy platforms like Talkspace are experiencing spikes in use.4
1 Health Insurance Providers Respond to Coronavirus (COVID-19). (2020, March 6). Retrieved from https://www.ahip.org/health-insurance-providers-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19/
2 President Trump Expands Telehealth Benefits for Medicare Beneficiaries During COVID-19 Outbreak. (2020, March 17). Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/president-trump-expands-telehealth-benefits-medicare-beneficiaries-during-covid-19-outbreak/
3 Miller, A. (2020, March 5). Online therapy is in high demand as coronavirus anxiety drives people to get help without leaving their homes. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-anxiety-leading-people-to-online-therapy-2020-3
4 Basu, T. (2020, March 20). The coronavirus pandemic is a game changer for mental health care. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615390/coronavirus-online-therapy-mental-health-app-teletherapy/
Updated on April 2, 2020