Coaching As Support For Adults with ADHD


As an educator, I have experience in working with children who have ADHD, but have never pondered on how they cope as adults in their professional and personal lives. I came across this interesting article, that examined coaching as a support for adult ADHD sufferers. I have pasted extracts, but if you are interested in the complete article, you can read it at

Coaching in General

Coaching is an emerging field that seeks to help individuals accomplish their life goals. The coaching relationship is intended to help people achieve better results in their lives: academically, professionally, socially, or in any area of life they want to improve. Through individualized assistance and support, coaches help people concentrate on where they are now, where they want to be, and how they can get there.

Currently, there is no published research evaluating the effectiveness of coaching as an intervention for individuals with ADHD. There is anecdotal evidence (reports based on individual cases rather than a research study) suggesting that coaching may be a helpful supplement to other interventions for which there is a more established evidence base. This sheet and the suggestions it offers are based upon the emerging standards of coaching practice and the principles of behavior change, not on scientific literature.

What is ADHD Coaching?

Although the concepts of professional and personal coaching have been around for several decades, the concept of ADHD coaching was first addressed in the 1994 book, Driven to Distraction,by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D.

ADHD coaching seeks to address the daily challenges of living with ADHD. A coach helps people with ADHD carry out the practical activities of daily life in an organized, goal-oriented, and timely fashion. Through a close partnership, an ADHD coach helps the client learn practical skills and initiate change in his or her daily life. A coach may help an adult with ADHD:

  • Maintain focus to achieve identified goals
  • Translate abstract goals into concrete actions
  • Build motivation and learn to use rewards effectively

Coaching Is Not Therapy

Coaches deal with problems in everyday living such as organization, time management, memory, follow-through, and motivation. Coaches focus on whatwhen and how — never why. They are not trained to address psychiatric, emotional and interpersonal problems, which should be addressed by mental health professionals. Through formal educational programs, mental health professionals (e.g. psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurse practitioners, marriage and family therapists) are trained to diagnose and treat mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and interpersonal difficulties. They also must have a license to practice. Therapists work primarily through face-to-face contacts while many coaches also work by telephone or e-mail.

Through regular interactions, coaches learn how the symptoms of ADHD play out in the daily lives of their clients and then provide encouragement, recommendations, feedback, and practical techniques to address specific challenges. They may offer reminders, raise questions, or suggest time management methods If an adult with ADHD needs assistance primarily in dealing with the practical challenges in daily life, a coach may be a good person to help. If the adult needs assistance with emotional, psychiatric, or interpersonal problems, then a therapist should be consulted. If an adult with ADHD needs both types of assistance, it may be helpful to select a coach and a therapist, and ask them to work with each other.


Although the field of coaching is still developing and does not yet have a research base that demonstrates its effectiveness as an intervention for adults with ADHD, many adults find that having a coach who is familiar with ADHD can be helpful in facing the challenges of daily life.





One comment on “Coaching As Support For Adults with ADHD

  1. Auth

    I snogtrly believe that it is essential to understand our views on the successful acquisition and implementation of a coaching skill / style in managers and leaders. So often I hear of this being through training alone not enough for me! It’s a mind set shift, and counter intuitive to many managers who have been brought up in hierarchical structures; these are not soft skills for me but fundamental hard skills focused on dealing effectively with others. Acquisition is hard work, involving training, coaching others and being coached oneself, over and over again, using real business and personal issues to illustrate the power of the approach. How long do professional coaches take to get their skills? rhetorical I hope!Adding to the complexity is the fact that coaching is only a part of the required spectrum of effective management and leadership behaviours, no wonder it’s tough!What works well in my experience is to build internal coaching capability, using external qualified expertise, and use this to support key managers to implement the coach approach’ effectively. All this over an intial 9 12 month period and ongoing.The next step for me is to get beyond coaching as a tool’ and have it be, it’s the way we behave around here’ so it gets way away from a doing’ activity towards new management / leadership behaviours which define an open collaborative purpose. The deal becomes to encourage new identities in leaders who believe that they can be effective by creating environments which foster joint accountability for extraordinary results in their people and teams.