Getting Unstuck: The Facts on ADHD Coaching
The morning alarm goes off and you drag yourself out of bed;
"drag" because you stayed up too late the night before. You
got so engrossed in exhaustively researching a prospective
purchase online that you just couldn't stop until you were
After you take your ADHD medication, you begin to feel more
alert. Suddenly ideas start to ricochet across your brain,
faster than you can keep track of them. You feel energized
and capable and on top of the world and write run-on sentences
like this one and have all these great plans to accomplish
so much with the rest of your day!
You have several big projects that need doing (not to mention
a variety of smaller tasks), so you sit down to get to work.
Almost immediately you're sidetracked because something else
you have to do pops into your head.
If I don't do it now, you think, I'll forget about it; I'd
better do it now. So you jump up, intending to do the thing
that popped into your head; except that, on the way to do
it, you see something else that needs doing. After you do
that instead, you can't remember what you got up for in the
Soon it's evening and it hits you that, if you're going to
get the project done that's due tomorrow, you'll have to pull
an all-nighter tonight. Thanks to caffeine, sugary snacks
and the "motivation" of impending failure, you finally manage
to focus. The night flies by and the project gets done (and
done well, since we ADD-ers tend to be perfectionists).
Then you grab a couple of hours of unrestful sleep and drag
yourself out of bed yet again, even more tired than you were
the previous morning.
Why does this always happen? you wonder. Do I have to feel
so stressed all the time? I thought this medication was supposed
to be helping me. Why can't I channel my energies and harness
my thoughts so I can get more done?
Taking Action to Help Ourselves
While medication definitely improves the symptoms of ADHD
for most people, what we need to do to improve our lives is
to implement structure and organization in a way that works
with us and for us - not against us.
Before we knew we had ADHD, we felt guilty and blamed ourselves
for what we suspected were weaknesses in our characters. We
were lazy, or unmotivated, or irresponsible; or we felt "broken"
or "weird" because we couldn't do things that came easily
Now that we know better, it's our responsibility to learn
how to get the help we need. Remember that knowledge is power.
Consider a Coach
As if in answer to the ADHD person's prayers, some sympathetic
genius came up with the idea of the ADHD coach. David Giwerc,
co-founder with his wife, Marla and president of the ADD Coach
Academy (ADDCA) - and an ADD-er himself - denies that the
concept originated with him.
"I have been coaching longer than most, but I can't say that
I was the first ADD coach," Giwerc says. "I can say that I
was the first ADD coach to specialize in coaching entrepreneurs
and business owners with ADHD. I can also say that ADDCA trains
more skilled, educated ADD coaches than any other coach training
Giwerc also serves as the current president of the Attention
Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), which describes itself
as "the world's leading adult ADHD organization."
What ADHD Coaches Do
"(ADHD coaches) tell our clients that they're not broken;
their brains are just wired differently," Giwerc says. Besides
educating clients about their ADHD, coaches support and empower
them by helping them to:
#1 - Let go of and change beliefs that are obstacles in their
lives: things like, "If I can't do it the way 'they' want
me to do it, I'm no good" (rather than "I have a different
style that works for me") and "If I don't get the result I
want, it's a failure" (rather than "it's a learning experience").
#2 - Identify their passions, talents and successes - i.e.,
the things they love to do and do well - and focus on them
rather than exclusively on their weaknesses
#3 - Understand how ADHD characteristics, such as creative
thinking and hyperfocus, can be utilized as strengths when
integrated into their daily schedules
#4 - Develop their unique skills
#5 - Create customized structures and strategies that utilize
their natural learning and processing styles so that they
can function more effectively and achieve their goals
#6 - Learn what do to when they get "stuck" because of ADHD-related
challenges such as procrastination, perfectionism, distraction
and lack of time awareness
While coaching is no substitute for medication, Giwerc says
that it can be part of a comprehensive approach to managing
ADHD that also includes 1) accurate diagnosis; 2) identification
of the most effective drug and dosage for the individual;
3) psychotherapy, if needed; and 4) physical exercise.
Where Do I Find a Coach and What Should I Look For?
Many websites advertise ADHD coaches. At the ADDCA
site, for example, you can find the names of suitable
coaches by clicking on the "Find a Coach" tab and then choosing
the specialty you want (for example, "Adult" or "Children
and Adolescents") and/or the location you prefer. Coaches
usually offer a free introductory session so that you can
both determine "if there's a connection," Giwerc explains.
Although the International Coaching Federation (ICF) certifies
coaches in general coaching skills, there's currently no ICF
certification specifically for ADHD coaching. Coaches should
be graduates of ADHD coach training programs, however, such
as ADDCA's 12-month long-distance program that leads to the
ACG (ADD Coach Academy Graduate) designation. Graduates of
ADDCA may then pursue advanced training to earn certification
as a CAC (Certified ADDCA Coach).
For helpful guidance about selecting an ADHD coach, see "The
ADDA Guiding Principles for Coaching Individuals with Attention
Deficit Disorder" at the ADDA's
The Nuts and Bolts: How Does Coaching Actually Work?
Although you can meet with a local ADHD coach in person, most
ADHD coaching takes place via telephone or e-mail. Three or
four 30-to-60-minute phone sessions are usually scheduled
each month, with e-mail or brief phone contacts in between.
Fees may run between $200-$600 a month and are probably not
covered by insurance (but you should check with your own health
plan to be sure).
Coaching relationships don't have a set timeframe. They can
run from six months to two years or more, depending upon the
individual client's desires and progress.
As important as a coach's credentials are, even more crucial
to a successful coaching experience is the ADHD client's willingness
to do what he or she can to create a more fulfilling life.
Coaches can inspire this willingness. "We teach our clients
to shift perspective, to discover and embrace their strengths
instead of their challenges," Giwerc says.
In fact, adds Giwerc, "With the help of a well-trained coach,
a client learns how to take his or her natural ADHD tendencies
and convert them into strengths."
Fran Hopkins for ADDvantaged.com
- a source of news, information, media, free downloadable
tools, and dynamic community-based support for people whose
lives are affected by ADHD. www.add-vantaged.com
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