What does an ADD coach do, and how can it help me?
Many adults with ADHD already know how effective a good coach be. Most people who have worked with an ADD coach consider their coaching to be a vital part of their treatment plan – just as important as therapy or medication. However, we get a lot of people asking about the benefits, cost, logistics and objectives of coaching, so we’ve gone straight to the experts for some answers.
Denise Gallagher is a certified ADD coach. She is dedicated to helping people with AD/HD achieve their professional and personal goals and was kind enough to answer our questions about ADHD coaching. We hope this Q&A gives you some insight into what coaching is all about and how you can benefit from working with an ADD coach like Denise.
AwADD: What exactly does an ADHD coach do for their clients?
Denise: ADHDers often have challenges with executive dysfunction as well as with distractibility and impulsivity. With executive dysfunction comes difficulty with organization, time management, procrastination, and breaking large projects down in to doable tasks, etc.
ADHD coaches can assist them in finding customized strategies for managing these issues so that they are free to use their strengths and talents to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.
AwADD: Does an ADHD coach replace the need for a therapist/psychiatrist?
Denise: An ADHD coach does not replace the need for a psychiatrist or therapist because a coach does not do the same things as these other professionals. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor and can prescribe medication. A therapist “treats” clients as opposed to “partnering” with them the way a coach does.
A therapist might discuss events from a client’s past to help the client work through unresolved anger or learn to control anxiety. A coach, however, focuses on the present and the future, helping a client to identify personal values and what the client wishes to create in the future.
Together they create a plan and strategies for helping the client work the plan so that the client can achieve desired goals.
AwADD: Do you have any advice for people who want to get the most out of their coaching program?
Denise: To get the most out of a coaching session, a client should come prepared, having spent some time thinking about what he would like to get out of the session. The client should be willing to be accountable to the coach since accountability is a big part of what makes coaching successful.
The client should help the coach to coach the clients effectively by telling the coach what works and what doesn’t. It goes without saying that the client should be willing to be honest with the coach.
AwADD: What qualities should an ADD adult look for in a coach? Are there any certifications or standard qualifications a good coach should have?
Denise: If I were an ADHD client looking for a coach, I would look for someone who is trained as a “life coach” and has additional training in ADHD. The International Coach Federation (the professional association for coaches) credentials coaches who have met rigorous standards (training, coaching certain numbers of hours, passing exams, etc.).
The ICF also accredits coach training programs. I would look for someone who has an ICF credential or is certified by an ICF-accredited training program, has some additional training in ADHD, and experience coaching clients with ADHD. Beyond formal qualifications, I would consider whether the coaches personality and my personality would allow us to work well together.
AwADD: Some coaches are “life coaches”. Others specialize in mental disorders. And some only work with ADHD patients. Is it important to find someone who specializes in Attention Deficit Disorder?
Denise: In some ways, coaching ADHDers differs from coaching people without ADHD. These include the issues that I listed above in #1. In addition, ADHDers can feel overwhelmed by having a lot of things they have to do and sometimes paralyzed when they have to choose among priorities.
For this reason, it is critical that a coach have some ADHD-specific training.At the same time, an ADHD coach needs to recognize that ADHD clients are creative, resourceful, and capable of achieving wonderful things when the ADHD is properly managed.
AwADD: How often should someone receive coaching (how many sessions per week/month)?
Denise: Coaching sessions are usually once a week. I know that it is easy for an ADHD client to become distracted by other things during the week so I offer my ADHD clients an opportunity to “check-in” in the middle of the week to make sure they are staying on the course they have set for themselves.
AwADD: How long do you work with a particular client? Weeks, months, years?
Denise: How long a coach and client work together is really up to the client. It can be for as long as the client feels she is benefitting from the coaching. I ask that new clients commit to at least three months because it takes time to develop new habits.
AwADD: Should ADD coaching be done in person, or can it be done remotely (via phone, Skype, etc.)?
Denise: Coaching is typically done over the phone, but may be done in-person, through Skype, etc. (whatever works for the client and coach).
AwADD: How can someone find the right coach?
Denise: A client can find the right coach by asking for referrals; checking the coaches credentials, certifications and ADHD-specific training; and by talking to several possible coaches to find one you believe you could work well with.
AwADD: Any words of encouragement for our readers (mostly adults with ADD and their spouses/loved ones)?
Denise: ADHDers are often highly intelligent, energetic, out-of-the-box thinkers–the kinds of people we need to solve the problems of our time. Now, more than ever, help is available for meeting the challenges presented by ADHD so that clients can reach their full potential AND there are no limits.
We’d like to thank Denise for taking some time to answer our questions. If you’d like to learn more about her or contact her directly, check out her website.
If you have any other questions about ADHD coaching, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!