What is ADHD/executive functioning coaching?

First, coaching is a conversation. ADHD coaching is a conversation with someone who really understands your unique brain wiring.

Ned Hallowell, a psychiatrist with ADHD himself, describes seeing patient after patient in his 1980s practice, and realising:

"...many of them did not necessarily need a traditional therapist, a professional trained to help someone sort out and resolve emotional conflicts while learning how to make wise decisions. No, what these patients needed more than that...was someone to help them sort out the nuts and bolts of daily life and help them resolve the problems that arise from missing deadlines, forgetting appointments, leaving key materials at home or in the car, and failing to wear socks that match. What we now call 'executive functions'."

This isn't the whole story. We'll certainly look at those daily life skills, but we'll also be thinking about your bigger goals, and what you really want out of life - and, actually, sometimes that might involve some sorting out of emotions, and talking through decisions you need to make (both can be tough for neurodivergent people).

But our focus is, first and foremost, on action. We won't spend a lot of time talking about the past. We aren't aiming to fix or heal you (in fact, we start by assuming you were never broken to begin with - if you don't care whether or not your socks match, then neither do I). We'll spend a lot of time considering your strengths, and how you can learn from what's going well. But as Hallowell suggests, we'll spend more time than you might in therapy looking at what you can do, and how to actually implement your ideas, to get closer to where you want to be. And our main focus is always, always on the present and future.

So those missed deadlines and forgotten appointments are part of the picture, but we'll also be thinking about your dreams, the things you really long for, and the real-world actions you can take to get there. Coaching feels like forward motion - but that forward motion might be a fairly straight line, or a more winding road. It's different for everyone.

I am based in the UK, but I love working with clients from all over the world. My sessions are held on Zoom.

If you are in the UK, the Access to Work government grant scheme may be able to fund the cost of your coaching if you are in employment or self-employed. If you would like to know more about this, please get in touch.

What will we do in a session?

Coaching is a collaboration between coach and client. We'll focus on learning to work with, rather than against, your ADHD traits.

You'll decide on a topic for each session, and we'll figure out what you'd like to get out of discussing it, and why it matters to you. We might use the time to:

  • Figure out tools and systems that really work for you (rather than the ones you've been told should work, but don't)
  • Get clearer on what you really want out of your work, life or relationships, and work out the steps you'll need to take to get there, in a way that feels manageable to you
  • Work out the answers to more practical, everyday questions like "how do I make feeding myself/getting to bed earlier/tidying up/filling in all these forms easier than it is right now?"
  • Figure out what makes you happiest, and how to get more of that in your life
  • ...or anything else you might want to bring!

You will steer the session - I try not to give one-size-fits-all solutions, since they tend not to stick. But I will help you work out what could work for you, and help you figure out how to actually implement it (which is often the hard part for neurodivergent people).

Towards the end of the session, we'll figure out what you're taking away with you - and how you'll remind yourself of it when it matters.

You do not need a formal diagnosis of ADHD to benefit from ADHD coaching. Whether you're formally diagnosed/self-diagnosed/think you might have traits of ADHD but aren't really sure/are otherwise neurodivergent/find executive functioning challenging for some other reason, if you believe you might benefit from coaching designed for ADHD brains, you are also absolutely welcome here.

A note about therapy

If you are experiencing significant mental health issues, it may not be the right time for ADHD coaching. I will tell you honestly if an issue you have brought to coaching would be better dealt with in therapy, and am happy to help you find a therapist if we determine that's what you need instead.

Many people find that a crisis of some kind is what brings them to ADHD coaching. We can handle crises of the neurodivergent kind - but, to coach you, I need you to be able to keep yourself safe, and to be able to begin to experiment with making changes, even if they are tiny at first.

Some clients might find that after a period of time in therapy, they feel ready to move forward with coaching. Others find it helpful to see both me and a therapist at the same time; their therapist handles the deeper emotional work, while we look at more of the day-to-day practicalities. If you choose to do this, I would always advise checking in with your therapist before beginning coaching, to ensure our work does not conflict - and I am happy to communicate with your therapist, if you would find that helpful.

If you are not sure, I am always happy to discuss the possibilities in a consultation call.