What Is ADHD Coaching?
Here's how it works.
Posted May 6, 2022 | Reviewed by Tyler Woods
- Despite concerns to the contrary, ADHD often goes underdiagnosed, leaving many people struggling well into adulthood.
- ADHD coaching is one tool that might help adults and children alike better cope with their ADHD.
- Since ADHD coaches are not licensed, it's vital to set goals and track the client's progress with managing ADHD.
Despite claims that ADHD is overdiagnosed, the data overwhelmingly suggest that the real problem is underdiagnosis. People whose ADHD goes undiagnosed may live with stigma and self-blame while failing to live up to their full potential. But ADHD treatment is about a lot more than medication. ADHD coaching can help you, your child, or your whole family.
What is ADHD coaching?
A good athletic coach takes raw talent, harnesses its power, and helps a person realize their full potential. ADHD coaching is similar. The things we practice repeatedly become the things we are good at. But people living with ADHD naturally struggle with executive functioning, impulse control, motivation, and other tools for effective living. Consequently, they tend to avoid tasks that require these skills.
ADHD coaches encourage a growth mindset in people living with ADHD, helping them practice the skills they need to better control their diagnosis. This looks different in every client, but some common experiences with ADHD coaching include:
- Helping to develop a schedule and routine for each day. People with ADHD thrive with routine, but they struggle to devise their own healthy schedules. The right coach makes it easier.
- Setting goals and then devising steps to reach those goals. Setting goals requires breaking things down into manageable steps—an executive functioning skill that can be really difficult if you have ADHD. A coach offers support.
- Providing meaningful feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Some people living with ADHD feel so overwhelmed that they’re not even sure which strategies might help them. The right coach devises a custom plan.
- Offering support to make healthy decisions, such as taking ADHD medication, establishing a bedtime routine, and requesting accommodations at work and school.
Types of ADHD coaching
ADHD coaches have many different philosophies. The key to getting the most out of coaching is finding someone whose coaching style is consistent with your values and goals. You’ll also want a coach who is experienced in the type of ADHD coaching you need. Some general categories include:
- Adult ADHD coaching: Many adults with ADHD never learned how to manage their symptoms—and some only learn about their diagnosis in adulthood. Adult ADHD coaching helps adults living with ADHD better understand their unique way of seeing the world, so they can live happier, more successful, more peaceful lives.
- Coaching for kids with ADHD: Kids with ADHD need to develop the skills that can help them harness the power of ADHD and minimize its challenges. The right coach helps kids better understand ADHD, so they can succeed at school, in relationships, and in life.
- ADHD parent coaching: Parenting a child with ADHD can feel overwhelming. ADHD parent coaches help parents develop effective strategies, better understand their child’s ADHD, and become strong advocates for their children’s needs.
Does ADHD coaching work?
ADHD coaching can be highly effective with the right coach. It’s especially important for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, recommends parent training and behavior management interventions as a mainstay of ADHD treatment. In very young children, it recommends this intervention before families try medication. ADHD coaching can help parents implement clear boundaries, support their kids to succeed, and reduce the impact of ADHD on the family.
For adults, too, ADHD coaching is a potent tool. A coach helps you understand what ADHD means (and doesn’t mean) and how you can make simple changes to improve your life. The right coach may also identify accommodations to make life easier, such as wearing headphones to minimize distractions or following a rigid schedule to help you sustain motivation.
The key is to find a coach who truly understands both ADHD and your treatment goals. So be sure to ask lots of questions before hiring a coach—especially since insurance rarely pays for these valuable professionals.
Tips for choosing an ADHD coach
ADHD coaches are not licensed medical professionals. This means that just about anyone can call themselves an ADHD coach. While some medical professionals may also market services for ADHD coaching, many coaches are lay people who themselves live with ADHD or parents who have coached a child to live better with the condition.
To ensure you get a high-quality coach, do the following:
- Ask a medical professional for a referral.
- Find a coach who is certified by a reputable ADHD coaching program.
- Ask the coach you are considering for references.
- Seek details on how the coach supports their clients.
- Make sure any attitudes or views the coach promotes are grounded in science. You can use websites such as the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or StatPearls to research common ADHD claims.
ADHD Essential Reads
Once you or your child enroll in coaching, it’s important to identify specific goals and then measure progress against those goals. If you’re not noticing helpful changes within a few months, it may be time to try a different coach or work with a psychiatrist to explore other ADHD treatment options.
Getting ADHD treatment right
ADHD is a complicated diagnosis, with lifestyle, genetics, and other factors playing a role in the outcome. While it’s true that a person cannot will their way out of ADHD, it is equally true that a supportive environment can help a person develop habits that make life with ADHD easier. Research consistently shows that a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes is the most effective strategy for managing ADHD.
To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.