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.
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)