March 2006 - Volume III - Issue III

ADHD - Coaching vs. Psychology

Statement: My intent in this newsletter is to express as quickly as possible my own beliefs and opinions on matters. I have no problems with people who disagree with my opinion and have even been swayed to rethink my position from time to time. We are still taking book orders for my new book "ADHD and The Criminal Justice System" and you can get my author's discount from the

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As an ADHD life skills coach I am often asked what coaching is and how it compares to seeing a Psychologist or Psychiatrist? First of all most coaches ARE NOT licensed Psychologist or Psychiatrist and range in training from attending ADHD Coaching Academies to have Master degrees in Social Work to relying on their past work history and dealing with the trials and errors of having ADHD for their lifetime. I fall into the last category.

I think that many Psychologist and Psychiatrist may have a belief that Coaching is a threat to their positions when in fact it is a supplement to it. Coaches deal with the present and the future and not in trying to cope with past problems or finding out the underlying aspects of family upbringing and providing Psychological help. Coaches on the other hand try and establish a relationship with their clients that is very similar to that of an athletic coach to a athlete. A good athletic coach can get an athlete to do many things that a parent or other family member could never get them to do. I recall having several athletic coaches who asked me to do things and be responsible for them that had my parents asked I doubt I would have complied. It is almost similar to having a good friend who you agree to get up and go for a walk for exercise every morning at 600 am. The idea of not calling them and leaving them at the corner waiting for you would probably never happen. It is this desire to fulfill our obligations to other people we respect that is the goal of an ADHD life skills coach.

Admittedly it is almost like playing a game with ourselves in order to get ourselves to do something we know we need to do. The coach listens to us and helps the client develop some short term goals. It is important that the coach not decide the goals to be achieved as the client is the one who has to set the goals. Helping to define the goals is the role of the coach. It needs to start out with baby steps and not a huge long term goal. I have found that one week goals which can realistically be accomplished are best. The client decides whether the goals are realistic and attainable. The coach will often review the goals and at first may even suggest that they delay one of the goals if the client would feel less overwhelmed, if the goals were structured correctly the client will normally say that the original goals are attainable. The coach then tells the client to keep him posted if they are having difficulties midweek and ask if there is any reason that the final goals agreed to cannot be attained?

The coach then lets the client know that they expect the goals to be attained and that the client has set the goals himself and that the coaches job is to hold them accountable for these goals. The client should also be told that if a goal is not accomplished he should notify the coach in advance and be aware that the coaches job is to not yell and scream at them for failing to comply but rather to review what happened that the goal was not reached.

The role of the coach often takes the role that parents or spouses normally have been handling and allows the client to keep these important relationships less stressful and transfers the accountability to the coach/client relationship.

The client needs to recognize their weaknesses and be honestly willing to work on these areas. A person brought into a coach by a parent or spouse who wants them to begin coaching is not going to be very successful unless the ADHD client is agreeable and seriously wants to work on this.

Coaches as opposed to Psychologist and Psychiatrist often are willing to go to the persons homes and help them with organization and other problems in their own living areas which would be cost prohibitive for a Doctor to do.

The bottom line is a good coach needs to have empathy as well as be strong enough to hold the person responsible in a fair and polite way. A coach cannot do it for someone. They can assist and provide a good sounding board for dealing with the day to day complications that ADHD/ADD can contribute to.

For my own coaching philosophy as an example you can click on this link:

Hope all is well with all of you.

Talk to you next month

Patrick Hurley

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Author's Bio: 

53 year old, 17 years as a Deputy Sheriff (Lieutenant) 5 years as an adult probation officer, 3 years as ADHD life skills coach, Co-Author of ADHD and the Criminal Justice System