Imagine your day going like this: You wake up late (again). You cannot find your left shoe. You found the right one, and it goes perfectly with your outfit. Dang! Where is the left one? Did the dog take it? Quick—find another pair of shoes. You spill the coffee grounds as you get them into the coffee machine. Oh yeah, you’ve got to make an appointment with your doctor. You are two days away from running out of your meds. You’ll do that during your drive to work. You canNOT find your travel coffee mug, so you use a normal mug. Of course, you spill coffee on your white blouse as you are driving. There is construction on the road, only adding to your stress. (remember—you are ALREADY late). You curse at the cars in front of you. The day continues one frustration after another. Oh shoot! You still haven’t called your doctor!! How are you going to remember that? Ughhh….why is life ALWAYS so hard? What if this day weren’t unusual, but the norm? And, what if, despite medication and traditional therapy, you still live like this? This is the life of many people with ADHD.
The good news is that within the past 10 years, life coaching has developed into a really effective approach to helping adults with ADHD. Medication, therapy, and neurofeedback can be helpful (and often necessary), but ADHD Coaching can offer a missing piece. I had the pleasure of listening to a lecture that included an expert in the field of ADHD–David Giwerc, the President and Founder and President of the ADD Coach Academy . This lecture included other experts, but I am focusing on Dr Giwerc’s part as I am a life coach who works with adults with ADHD as well. This lecture was sponsored by ADDItudemag.com which is a great resource offering the latest in ADHD research. ADHD Life Coaching can be transformative for an adult with ADHD for many reasons:
- The relationship: the coach/client relationship is unique. It is egalitarian, more like a partnership. This can be quite empowering for the client. Rather than being told how to change and to be “fixed” by an expert, the coach walks along-side the client. They both collaborate as they explore new approaches to the typical challenges for an adult with ADHD. The coach prioritizes establishing a good rapport with the client. Oftentimes, the client feels seen and heard for the first time in their lives.
- Questions: The coach asks powerful questions, getting the client to wake up to the current narrative they are living. How may this narrative may be inhibiting them? Is there a new narrative they can live into—one more powerful and a source of inspiration? With these questions, the coach inspires the client to stretch into a better version of themselves.
- Education: The coach teaches the client about the ADHD brain. They show how their brain is unique and comes with both gifts and challenges. The coach makes clear that the client is NOT broken. Rather, they teach the client to work around their challenges. For example, adults with ADHD tend to have poor memories. The coach will, therefore, encourage them to use visual prompts so they don’t need to rely on their memories. This is a new habit they must build that the coach reinforces.
- Play to their strengths: The coach is trained to see the strengths of their client and to “hold a mirror” up so that the client can see what they have to offer. The client is REPEATEDLY told to play to their strengths. This can be an excellent source of confidence and motivation for adults with ADHD. Many adults with ADHD lack confidence as they have felt beaten down their entire lives for not being able to do what seems so natural to others. Also, inspiration is fundamental to adults with ADHD as their brain is low in dopamine receptors. This often leads to boredom and a lack of motivation. Learning to tap into their own sources of inspiration leads to more positive emotion. The coach helps them to shift from focusing on their weakness and their problems to their possibilities.
- Responsibility: the coach holds the client responsible for agreed- upon actions. This involves giving homework assignments and new practices that help the client to reinforce their learning, making it more likely to stick. So, you can see how coaching can be a powerful source for adults with ADHD. Coming from a place of inspiration, coaches seek to create a supportive environment where their clients become motivated to create and reach meaningful goals. With coaching, adults with ADHD begin to see the many possibilities they have to living an empowered and fruitful life, despite their challenges.