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How do you coach ADHD?

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

Write wringing on a dark green background that says ADHD coaching helps you to recognise your own characteristics and work out the best way to manage them.

This is a question I have seen posted in several groups I am in lately. I'm also an individual with ADHD and due to the restrictions in those groups, I'm reluctant to answer those questions in the group as in many of them, advertising your business definitely isn't allowed. I fully understand the reasoning for this as well as knowing that coaching isn't a regulated professional, so anyone can say they are a coach, never mind an ADHD coach!

I also want to continue being a member, as like everyone else in them, I also need support sometimes!

As a coach I am well aware that you cannot change the fact that someone has ADHD, but as a coach, I do know how to help manage symptoms such as:

  • poor working memory

  • concentration

  • organisation

  • time management

  • planning and problem solving

  • controlling your emotions

Think about those times when you see everyone else planning stuff, and they just get it done? It's like they've got this magical power to stay focused and organised. Meanwhile, we're here struggling to keep up with the simplest of tasks. And that's just one example!

The whole idea of ADHD coaching is looking at your everyday life, and how we can make it more manageable for you. In identifying your challenges, we can look to improve how you function in a world that very clearly wasn't designed for individuals with ADHD.

Firstly, I want to get one thing straight...

ADHD coaching isn't some boring lecture; if anything it's something that you participate in and, as the expert in your own life, I ask you to share things with me about your everyday life. In return I make suggestions, offer tools, provide support, encouragement and promote accountability.

I won't sugar coat things, I'm direct and when I'm asking questions there is an end purpose to them, that being using my skills and toolset to help you navigate through a life that can sometimes be a bit chaotic due to your ADHD. (And if you're currently thinking it's not that chaotic, please consider the fact that I have ADHD too and I know only too well how it can be).

It also looks at different areas in life, as one area impacts on another and so on.

There's the practical side of life. In my experience with clients, it's not laziness. It's not about lacking motivation to do the practical things, as the intrinsic motivation is evidenced by our thoughts that tell us what we should be doing. To quote Dr Russell Barkley, a world leading expert in ADHD - "People with ADHD know what to do but can't do what they know!"

Sometimes it's everyday stuff e.g. cooking cleaning, time management, organising things, making plans and looking at what it would actually take to make that task manageable. Other times, it's learning to look ahead and help set up realistic goals and keep us accountable without being all strict and judgmental. We've definitely had enough of that!

We can really break things down if required e.g. Say in your work you are given a task with 6 steps. You can manage up to step 4 with no problems, then always manage to either skip step 5 and complete step 6 and you may or may not get away with it, or you stop at step 4 and the task isn't completed. It can cause a lot of issues.

Coaching looks at what happens during that task. If everything before step 4 is fine, what it is about step 5 that you struggle with? Maybe something about steps 1-4 is overwhelming and you are no longer capable of completing steps 5 and 6? Maybe something more exiting has grabbed your attention and when you get back to it you think you've completed step 5? Maybe step 5 is something you keep forgetting about. There are strategies that you help you once we work this out.

But ADHD coaching isn't just about the practical things.

It's about creating an understanding of how your brain works, making you more aware of your symptoms. I see people who know what some symptoms are but aren't aware of others. I see those who are just diagnosed and those who have known for years, as well those who suspect they may have ADHD or are self-diagnosed because getting a diagnosis isn't possible for them.

I've had clients who always thought they were coping, but then life throws yet another curve ball and then it just seems to get too hard to juggle it all.

I see individuals who have been struggling their whole lives, trying to fit in and be what society and everyone else expects. They are struggling and overwhelmed on the inside but on the outside they look like they are functioning.

I know from experience that living with ADHD can be emotionally challenging. We cannot always regulate our emotions in the way society expects us to. We've been accused of being overdramatic, oversensitive and a whole host of other things. ADHD coaching helps to find ways to manage these in a manner that is acceptable to you, providing a supportive environment where you can express your feelings and experiences without judgment.

Here's how I offer emotional support:

Empathy and Understanding: As an individual with ADHD, I also understand the struggles of living with ADHD and provide a safe space for you to share your thoughts and emotions.

Coping Strategies: I help you to learn coping techniques to deal with frustration, stress, and other emotional challenges related to ADHD. Some you may have used before, but I have a whole host of tools that can help. I'm also very aware of what it is like to have Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria and the rabbit holes it can take you down and have ways to help manage this as well.

Self-Compassion: I help you to develop self-compassion and reduce self-criticism, allowing you to be kinder to yourself during tough times. This is a big one for a lot of clients. So many of us are criticised from an early age, and that criticism teaches our own inner critic how to do it's job very well. My aim is to work with you to make that inner critic an awful lot quieter and prove it wrong as often as possible.

Addressing Limiting Beliefs: I see many clients who have negative limiting beliefs due to things they have been told they cannot do, be it as a child or as an adult. This kind of thing when heard often enough, sticks. ADHD coaching identifies and challenges those beliefs.

Building Confidence: I know from personal experience and my client work, that there are many of us out there who, for various reasons, struggle with self-confidence. I see an awful lot of clients who would love to improve their self-confidence. There are things in coaching that help with this and, as your confidence grows, so does your belief in yourself and the strengths you have as an individual with ADHD.

The type of of coaching I do also looks at enhancing your mental wellbeing.

It's well known that many of us struggle with our mental wellbeing. Some of us have sought counselling and it has helped, others have found counselling to be too much for various reasons. Coaching is another way of working to improve your mental health. Some ways I do this are:

Raising Self-Awareness: Coaching helps you gain a deeper understanding of you as a person, not just your ADHD. Your thoughts, emotions, and behaviour and the choices you make all have an effect on your mental wellbeing.

Stress Reduction: I can help with stress-reduction techniques to manage anxiety and overwhelm. It isn't just ADHD that causes stress, other people, situations, life in general and our own thinking patterns can contribute. ADHD isn't responsible for everything!

Mindful behaviour: Please note I did not say mindfulness as I'm very aware that it isn't for everyone, (especially those of us with noisy brains!). Mindful behaviour is about ensuring you have included some of the things you love into your daily life. The things that you maybe don't do enough. It's self-care and, believe it or not,, taking time out for yourself can improve focus and attention at other times when you need it.

Celebrating Progress: In a world where some of the things we achieve seem like nothing to others, I understand how much effort goes into the little things. We always acknowledge and celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Celebrating progress boosts motivation and self-esteem.

Balancing Rest and Productivity: Together we look at striking a balance between activity and relaxation, doing our best to avoid feeling overwhelmed or even burnout, something that many of us with ADHD experience. These things are also important if we are already burnt out and need to recover.

There is one thing that I do know a lot of us already have and that's resilience. Despite how difficult life is, we still get up and try again. We've been doing it all our lives through school, work, relationships etc. The experts have the evidence to prove that to simply get by in life, we try 3 times harder than neurotypical individuals.

That resilience is evident in the question at the very top of this blog. We've been hardwired through our experiences in life to think that everything that can be done for us, has been done.

But times are changing. Evidence-based research by the world's leading experts in ADHD now recommend coaching whether medicated or not. They see the value in it.

Why not see for yourself?


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