ADHD coaching is a type of complementary treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Read on to find out what it involves, as well as its benefits, effectiveness, and cost.
While ADHD can have a positive impact on a person’s energy levels and creativity, it can also create challenges in other areas of life.
For instance, people who have ADHD might have difficulty with certain tasks, such as responding to emails, meeting deadlines, or following instructions.
An ADHD coach is a trained professional who works with teens and adults who have ADHD to address these challenges directly. A coach can help develop and hone abilities in the following areas:
- Organization. Time management, task and project management, workflow, prioritizing, keeping records, multitasking, and organizing your home or office are all examples.
- Managing emotions. This includes things like improving self-esteem, reducing stress and anxiety, and personal empowerment.
- Developing new skills. Learn communication and social skills, problem-solving, interpersonal conflict resolution, punctuality, public speaking, and boundaries.
- Achieving goals. For example, healthy lifestyle, career success, managing a household, accountability, and motivation.
It can be tailored to meet your needs
The format depends on both you and the coach. Many coaches are flexible and will tailor their services according to your needs.
For example, you might meet with your ADHD coach in person once a week, with regular email or text message check-ins to encourage accountability between sessions.
Group sessions are also available. While they may not be as personalized as one-on-one coaching, the upside is that they’re usually more affordable. In addition, you might find it helpful to meet and exchange strategies with other people who have ADHD.
You can think of an ADHD coach as being similar to a life coach. Both can help you maximize your potential.
However, one key difference is that ADHD coaches have the knowledge and experience to help you tackle challenges that are specific to ADHD. Many coaches even have ADHD themselves. As a result, they understand what it’s like to live with ADHD.
The right coach can provide a lot of benefits. Here are two personal perspectives from people who have used ADHD coaching.
‘Coaching helped me be kinder to myself’
“Even though I was taking medication for my ADHD, I’d spent my entire life developing poor coping strategies,” explains Gia Miller, a freelance writer. “At 39 years old, I still lacked basic executive functioning skills.”
“With my ADHD coach’s guidance, I was able to organize my days, pay my bills on time, manage my finances, not miss important emails, better manage my time, and run a more successful business,” she says.
Miller was well-informed before she started working with a coach. Still, one of the unexpected benefits was education.
“My ADHD coach helped me understand why I did certain things. She also helped me be kinder to myself, something that can be hard to do with ADHD,” she says.
Miller adds that although coaching requires time and money, it’s absolutely worth it. “It’s truly life-changing,” she says.
‘My differences are just differences, not shortcomings’
For Susan Crumiller, the owner of a New York City–based feminist law firm, there are only advantages to working with a coach.
In her experience, accountability is the most important benefit.
“Many things that are hard for most people come super easy to those of us with ADHD, but the opposite is also true,” she says. “I rely on my coach to make sure I am staying on a good sleep schedule and exercising regularly.”
She also credits her coach with helping her shift her perception of ADHD. “I spent my whole life focusing on my shortcomings,” Crumiller says. “But those shortcomings are really just differences that don’t make me a bad person.”
Now, she sees her ADHD as the reason behind her success.
Coaching is a relatively new form of treatment for ADHD. Though research is still limited, the outcomes seem promising.
According to the authors of a
A 2011 study featuring a small sample of college undergraduates reported similar results. The authors concluded that participants reported:
- improved goal achievement
- satisfaction with their coaching experience
- increased overall well-being and self-regulation
Another study from 2013 examined the effects of an 8-week coaching program among 150 college students. The authors reported that following coaching, participants showed significant improvements in:
- learning strategies
- areas of study
- satisfaction with school and work
A 2018 literature review analyzed 19 studies on ADHD coaching. The researchers reported that in all of the studies, coaching was associated with improved ADHD symptoms and executive functioning. Other reported benefits included participant well-being and satisfaction.
The authors of another 2018 literature review pointed out that although the results of ADHD coaching studies have so far been positive, few studies have assessed the potential for negative outcomes.
They identified three factors that could contribute to negative results:
- inadequately trained coaches
- participants with coexisting mental health issues
- low levels of participant readiness
According to Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD), a nonprofit advocacy organization for people with ADHD, stressful life circumstances and chronic illnesses may also affect the outcome of coaching. More research needs to be done in this area.
Miller had similar concerns. “If you are a person who struggles with controlling your emotions, especially your anger, then working with an ADHD coach to improve your executive functioning may not work,” she says.
CHADD suggests that in order to get the most out of coaching, clients must be prepared to admit to the challenges they face and put in the time and effort required to change their behavior.
Since ADHD coaching isn’t regulated, anyone can call themselves an ADHD coach. That’s why it’s crucial to do your research when selecting one.
Coaching also relies on a strong rapport between coach and client. Be prepared to talk to a few different coaches to find the right fit.
Consider your needs
Before you start looking for a coach, take some time to think about your needs.
Consider how you would prefer to engage with your coach (face-to-face, by telephone, or online) and whether you’d prefer a coach with a particular area of expertise, such as entrepreneurialism, relationships, studying, or parenting.
Remember that a coach can’t provide treatment for depression, anxiety, or substance use. Instead, seek additional treatment for other mental health issues alongside coaching.
Compile a list of potential coaches
Next, it’s time to start compiling a list of potential coaches. You can use the directory provided by the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO) to search by location.
The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) also provides a professional directory.
Spend some time reviewing the information provided on the coach’s website. If possible, narrow down your search to up to five coaches to interview.
Consider interview questions
Consider asking any of the following questions during your preliminary meeting with a potential coach:
- What education and/or training do you have? How does it influence your coaching practice?
- Do you have specific training in ADHD coaching?
- Do you have any certification(s)?
- How long have you been an ADHD coach?
- Do you have experience working with special groups (e.g., teens, adults, college students) and/or issues (e.g., relationships, running a business, parenting)?
- Do you have experience working with coexisting mental health issues? Are you a licensed mental health professional (e.g., psychologist, counselor, social worker)?
- What’s your approach to coaching? What methods do you use to interact with clients (e.g., face-to-face, phone calls, etc.)?
- What are your fees/rates? Do you require payment upfront? What forms of payment do you accept?
- Do you have any current or former clients who I can speak to as references?
- Do you offer trial coaching sessions, and if so, what’s your fee?
Take a trial run
Be sure to take notes during your initial conversation. Remember that a professional ADHD coach should be forthcoming in answering all of your questions.
Even if you’re satisfied with the coach’s answers, a trial session is the best way to see whether a potential coach is a good fit.
The cost of ADHD coaching varies. In general, it’s comparable to the cost of therapy or life coaching. One-hour sessions may range in price from $75 to $250, and sometimes more.
Ways to offset costs
ADHD coaching is rarely covered by insurance. However, there are some ways to offset or reduce the cost. Try one or more of the following:
- Ask prospective coaches if they offer pro bono coaching or sliding scale fees. If they do, you can pay a fee that’s proportional to your income.
- If you’re seeking coaching for career-related reasons, approach your organization’s human resources department to ask if they’ll cover a portion of the cost. (Keep in mind this would expose your ADHD diagnosis to your employer, which some people may want to keep private.)
- If you run a business and are seeking ADHD coaching to grow as an entrepreneur, you may be able to claim a portion of the cost as a business expense.
- You can claim your coach’s fee as a medical expense on your taxes if your doctor writes you a prescription for ADHD coaching.
- Look for group coaching sessions or online coaching sessions. This website provides a list of resources for people with ADHD who can’t afford one-on-one coaching.
Coaching can be an effective complementary treatment for ADHD. Benefits include increasing organization, achieving goals, and developing new skills.
If cost is a barrier, check out this online resource.