Coaching is a non-traditional approach to helping people cope with the symptoms of ADHD that interfere with daily life. It is not a treatment and is considered to be educational rather than medical. The International Coach Federation describes the relationship between coach and client: “Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.”
How can coaching help to improve someone’s life? The relationship between a coach and client is unique. Although a coach can work with many different clients, each interaction will be different. One client may be looking for assistance in improving their efficiency at work, while another may be interested in improving personal relationships. Yet another may want to create structure and organization in their life. The coach works with the client by assisting them in creating systems that will work for their situation. They will educate clients on ADHD and guide them in seeking out how they can improve their daily lives. A coach does not make plans for the client, but rather provides guidance and structure to help individuals make their own choices. Although some coaches offer face-to-face coaching, most coaching is done through email and phone consultations.
Even though each coaching relationship is unique, there are some commonalities in the coaching process. Normally, it will follow a process similar to this outline:
The initial consultation is often longer than follow up sessions. During this conversation the coach will ask questions and listen to their client. The coach will be seeking to find out about the client and their personal situation. The client will have the opportunity to discuss what has been working in their life and what is not working. They will be able to talk about their goals. The client will discuss what area they feel needs to be addressed first. Sometimes, during the conversation, this goal will change from one area to another. For example, a client may feel they want to work on losing weight. After talking with the coach, they may determine that procrastination is an obstacle to their losing weight, as well as interfering with other areas in their life. They may decide to begin working with the coach on procrastination instead of weight loss first and once that has been improved, weight loss will be a second goal.
Follow up sessions are often a combination of telephone consultations and email. Normally, a schedule and structure for the coaching will be discussed during the initial consultation. A weekly or bi-weekly phone conversation and emails several times a week would be one example of a coaching structure. Follow up telephone consultations traditionally would be somewhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour in length. These conversations will include discussions on progress being made, set backs that may have occurred and setting goals for the upcoming week.
Often coaches will give homework to their clients. This might include items such as: making a “things to do” list each night, creating one goal, or completing certain chores. The homework would be tailored to the client’s individual needs. For our example of the procrastinator, the coach may give homework of completing a task the client has been putting off.
Both the client and the coach will determine the duration of the coaching process. A coach will routinely provide a time to have a review. At this time, both the client and the coach will review the progress and determine if coaching is to continue. Many coaches will work on a month-to-month basis. Some prefer the client make a commitment to continue coaching for two or more months in order to give the process a chance to work. Continuing in coaching for three to six months is reasonable.
Although coaches will help to provide structure, they do not make decisions for their clients. They often provide observations and allow the client to discuss the situation and work through a problem. The coach can provide a new perception and feedback on a situation; however, the client must always do the decision-making.
A coach is able to provide a time when the client can discuss their life, the struggles and the triumphs without judgment. They can offer a support system and help you sort through the obstacles in your life in order to make sound decisions. A coach also helps to break down goals into steps and helps you stay on track. When you are in a coaching situation and must have follow up conversations to discuss your progress, you are often more apt to continue on the decided path. A coach can help you organize your thoughts and ideas and create a plan of action.
In order for coaching to work properly, you must be committed to change. You must be willing to take action and take responsibility for your actions. You must be available for coaching sessions. Coaching can and is beneficial to many people dealing with the symptoms of ADHD in their daily lives. But coaching will only work when you are committed to creating positive change in your life.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.