Thinking About Thinking: How ADHD Coaching Works
by Glen Oliveiro (Singapore)
We ask four ADHD coaches how coaching helps individuals manage their symptoms
One of the strengths of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is an ability to focus so intensely that the whole world ceases to exist, a feat of supreme concentration that has helped build many highly successful careers and achieve acclaim that until recently was the complete opposite of how someone with ADHD was meant to ‘look’.
Thankfully, as our awareness of the complexities of this lifelong developmental disorder is improving, so is our understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness of every individual’s experience.
And while appreciating its many strengths – such as high social and emotional intelligence, deep empathy, and think-outside-the-square entrepreneurial abilities – left untreated ADHD can be debilitating, sometimes with serious negative consequences such as years of lost work, poor mental health, self-medicating leading to substance abuse and/or gambling addictions. Prison populations have higher rates of ADHD than the general population.
Therefore seeking help is important, even without a diagnosis, and taking that first step can be life changing.
Laura Alford is an ADHD coach who advocates for patience, understanding and gentle listening. She has two sons with ADHD so is very aware of the myths and misinformation around neurodivergence and says that while things are improving, there’s still a long way to go.
‘When my son was diagnosed nine years ago nobody talked about it, it was taboo. I had a friend who whispered; ‘my child is ADHD’ and I said; ‘why are you whispering?. It had a label, there was a stigma.’
She says it’s definitely easier for children now; ‘my children talk about it a lot with their friends because a lot of their friends have ADHD’, but it’s still hard for adults.
There is slow progress as more adults, including celebrities (think Emma Watson, Johnny Depp, Justin Timberlake), entrepreneurs (including Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson) and sports stars (such as Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and swimmer Michael Phelps) are being diagnosed and talk more openly about it, but there is still a long way to go.
Coaches are Not Medically Trained
Laura sees coaching as a collaboration between the coach and client, with questions to encourage self-reflection, build self-awareness and discover strategies specifically suited to an individual’s needs.
Because ADHD is almost always accompanied by another condition such as autism, anxiety or depression, she says the first step for any coach is to ensure a client’s mental health is in the ‘right place’ which may require referral to a therapist.
Therapists are trained professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists and are the source of a diagnosis and medication if required.
Laura says it is often a personal choice whether to combine coaching with therapy and/or medication, and estimates half her clients see a therapist as well, but adds it’s always important that clients understand coaches are not medically trained.
Where to Start?
Considering the consequences of doing – or not doing – anything is a good starting point for anyone struggling with a task, she says, as well as thinking about past experiences and how they turned out.
About Glen Oliveiro
Glen Oliveiro is the founder of CoachVantage.
CoachVantage is an all-in-one coaching platform that helps coaches to deliver exceptional results for their business and clients. It facilitates the coaching partnership between coach and coachee. Taking notes, sharing files, sending forms and e-contracts, invoicing and scheduling are all supported on the platform. It fully automates the client onboarding process and gives coaches the ability to deliver impactful coaching and transform their clients’ lives.