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Psycho education is an integral part of the coaching process. It is during this phase of the coaching relationship that the coach educates the client about how and where the challenges of AD/HD are manifested in their life. The knowledgeable, well-trained certified AD/HD coach, from an accredited program, understands the ADHD brain and has the knowledge, language to clearly explain the bio-neurological nature of AD/HD. The coach conveys the invisible executive function challenges of ADHD in models, metaphors, stimulating language that attracts the attention of their client and significantly improves their understanding of their own type of ADHD.

Diagnosticians and physicians often do not have the time explain ADHD to their patients in ways they will understand so they leave their offices with a diagnosis they don’t understand. The diagnosis they are given makes them feel blind to what they have and how it manifests in their world. Coaches are trained to explain in simple, descriptive language how the invisible challenges of ADHD can be made more visible, to their clients, so they can learn to identify the specific situations, tasks and environments which could impede their ability to activate their brains and gain momentum with accomplishing an important goal or task.

For example, some people who have AD/HD tend to be visual processors and can sustain their focus by seeing or thinking in pictures. To improve the understanding of how and where AD/HD manifests, the coach will communicate with creative metaphors, models and language to support their clients with visualizing how AD/HD affects their life and how it can be managed.

The coach may describe the brain as an engine of a car which needs the “fuel of interest” to ignite it and the prefrontal cortex as the steering wheel which allows the driver to choose a positive intention or direction for the car to move towards their desired destination. The client can learn how stepping on the brain’s brakes, when the client feels disharmony in his body, allows him to pause and pay attention to what they are paying attention to and identify the emotion they are feeling in the moment.

By pausing to name the negative emotion, they are diminishing its impact. Without the pause, the dominant, unnamed emotion can lead to ruminative cycle of thinking which can impede any forward momentum. The skill of identifying a negative emotion in the moment, such as anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, etc.is the foundation for learning the skill of emotional intelligence and is essential for improving emotional self-regulation. Rather than keeping the negative feeling repressed inside one’s body which can create negative chemicals like cortisol and increases stress, the skill of emotional intelligence improves self-regulation and can prevent the client from making impulsive decisions which can have dire consequences.

During the psycho education phase of coaching, the AD/HD coach shares information supported by scientific research about AD/HD. The credibility of this documented and proven body of knowledge from reputable and respected sources, such as health care institutions, organizations and other authorities on AD/HD illustrates and explains the client’s past inability to perform as a function of undiagnosed and untreated AD/HD, not because of being “broken” or having had a character flaw.

Understanding how AD/HD affects the brain and the life of an individual diminishes, and in many cases, eliminates years of self-blaming behaviors that have contributed to the low self-perception of the individual who has AD/HD and a continued cycle of failure.

If the client is to have a greater understanding and awareness of their ADHD challenges as behaviors of a bio-neurological brain wiring, which in certain situations is challenged, but in other situations can lead to success (situational variability), they can begin the process of accepting, understanding the specific situations, tasks where they can consistently experience success. The coach can then work with their clients to integrate the successful lessons learned and integrate them, more frequently, into their daily life.

Resources:

Thomas E. Brown, A New Understanding of ADHD in Children and Adults, Executive Function Impairments (New York, Rutledge, 2013)

Russell Barkley, Taking Charge of Adult ADHD (New York, The Guilford Press, 2010)

David Giwerc, Permission to Proceed: The Keys to Creating a Life of Passion, Purpose and Possibility (Albany New York, ADD Coach Academy Press, Vervante, 2011)

Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion, Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind (New York, HarperCollins Publsihers,2011)

Travis Bradberry & Jean Graves, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (San Diego, TalentSmart,2009)

David Giwerc ADHD in Adults 2KdZ7t
ADHD Coaching an Integral Component of Effective Comprehensive Treatment for Adults with ADHD

Research clearly indicates psychopharmacology’s prominent role as an ADHD intervention.

Even if the primary care physician is comfortable with treating an ADHD adult, the typical office visit does not allow sufficient time to address every issue that confronts the newly diagnosed adult ADHD patient. The patient may leave with an appropriate ADHD medication regimen, but many other critical problems related to the diagnosis may remain unaddressed.

Medications can significantly improve focus while reducing other symptoms of ADHD. However, ADHD medications alone cannot teach the patient how to compensate for life skills that were never learned due to the years of executive function impairment.

ADHD coaching builds a bridge between biology and behavior and narrows the gap between ability and performance. Patients and physicians are beginning to realize the importance of including an ADHD coach as part of the treatment team. Just as an athletic coach motivates an athlete, ADHD coaches are very adept at motivating their clients who have ADHD, while partnering with them to develop and practice newly learned personal, social, and professional skills. For some patients, these skills may not have been developed due to lack of ADHD education, proper diagnosis, and treatment.

CBT_treats_Executive_Dysfunction_Free_ADHD_CME_CJkZtu.png.jpgThe stigma surrounding ADHD as nothing more than an “unruly child syndrome,” coupled with the popularity of incorrectly self-diagnosing an ADHD impairment, means too many patients are conditioned not to speak up and not to seek support, especially in the workplace. Adult ADHD coaching clients have often stated that an ADHD coach was the first person to not only understand the frustration of their invisible challenges, but also to sincerely believe all of their ADHD stories.

Physicians can rarely provide the level of attention and encouragement an adult patient needs within the restrictions of the typical office visit. The coach, therefore, can reinforce their patients’ natural talents and successes. The PAAC* or ICF**-certified ADHD coach can create an environment that encourages open communication (necessary for behavioral changes to occur) and forms a foundation of unconditional acceptance. Coupled with science-based instruction about ADHD, the coach focuses on identifying the patient’s natural talents and successes and develops a plan to convert that into daily strengths.

ADHD coaches help the client develop coping strategies, a valuable adjunct to medication management. They are highly specialized professionals, well-versed in ADHD-specific coaching competencies. The coach provides psycho-educational support, improves self-awareness of how symptoms of ADHD, and helps translate that into improved short and long-term performance.

While coaching cannot replace stimulant medications or therapy as a treatment, a coach can provide customized strategies and education that work alongside medication. The ADHD coach may suggest lifestyle changes such as proper sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and breathing exercises. In addition, ADHD coaching is accessible, with most coaching being conducted via phone/Skype, eliminating the need for geographical proximity or disruption to the work day.

*PAAC: Professional Association of ADHD Coaches, (PAAC)

**ICF: International Coach Federation

Cardiovascular Safety of ADHD Medications - ADHD in Adults

Resources:

Lidia Zylowska, The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD (Boston, Trumpeter, 2012)

Thomas E. Brown, A New Understanding of ADHD in Children and Adults, Executive Function Impairments (New York, Rutledge, 2013)

David Giwerc, Permission to Proceed: The Keys to Creating a Life of Passion, Purpose and Possibility (Albany New York, ADD Coach Academy Press, 2011)

John Ratey, Spark Revolutionary New Science of Exercise & the Brain (New York, Little, Brown & Co. 2008)