Which coaching style is best for ADHD?

adhd coaching styles

I often have conversations with adults with ADHD about coaching. In itself, that seems pretty obvious. I am an ADHD Coach, after all. What is interesting though is when the conversation turns to what someone can actually expect from working with me. Will I follow you up to make sure you’ve done what you said you’d do? Will I simply turn your comments back on you and reflect your words in a question? How much is coaching with me similar to therapy? 

I want to give you an insight into how I answer questions like these, and hopefully help you figure out what kind of things you want from a coach. 

Side note: I’ll discuss two approaches that seem almost opposite. In reality, most good coaches will be operating from a blend of these two angles, and the more experience a coach has, the more comfortable they will be knowing their zone.   

Two distinct approaches to coaching are causal coaching (as in cause-and-effect, don’t misread it as casual coaching😊) and accountability coaching. Each approach has its own focus and goals. 

Casual Coaching

casual adhd coach

Causal coaching is a type of coaching that focuses on helping clients identify the underlying causes of their challenges or problems. It is based on the idea that many problems or challenges that individuals face are not simply the result of external circumstances, but rather are rooted in deeper internal causes, such as limiting beliefs, negative patterns of thinking or emotional states, or past experiences. Causal coaching seeks to help clients identify and address these root causes, rather than simply treating the symptoms of their problems. 

In my experience coaching clients with ADHD, I’ve seen some people get confused and think that adopting a causal coaching approach implies that the coach thinks their ADHD is caused by their beliefs and mindsets. This could not be further from the truth, and if you hear this from a coach who claims to help with ADHD, my advice is to run, run a mile!  

I love causal coaching, it is my favourite space to work in. One gorgeous client recently had what I call an a-ha moment (that’s the technical term 😊) when she saw that her mindset was keeping her stuck in a pattern with her family. The way she interacted with her children meant that everybody was putting way more load on her time management and working memory executive function skills than she had capacity for. In this example she and I acknowledged and realistically assessed her capacity in the light of her very real ADHD struggles. We didn’t say that her mindset was the root cause of making it hard to manage time, but we did uncover that changing her thinking and her approach could help make this particular example of a time management struggle a bit easier.    

Causal coaching involves a more exploratory approach, where I help my clients reflect on their experiences and identify patterns and themes. I generally ask open-ended questions, encourage self-reflection, and use various tools and techniques to help you gain insight into the root causes of your challenges, in an ADHD-affirming way. 

Accountability Coaching

In contrast, accountability coaching is focused on helping clients set and achieve specific goals, often within a defined timeframe. It is a more structured and results-oriented approach, with a focus on action and follow-through. Some coaches love this approach, and some ADHD clients really want help to establish clear goals and action plans, and to get support and accountability to help them stay on track and achieve their objectives. 

Accountability coaching may involve setting specific milestones, creating deadlines, and tracking progress toward goals. Some of my clients really appreciate this kind of conversation, where I can use various tools and techniques to help the client stay motivated and overcome obstacles, such as breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps or creating rewards for achieving milestones. In one recent session, I worked with a lovely woman with ADHD to map out a step-by-step sequence of furniture to move (and the spaces that needed to be cleared to facilitate the moving) so that she could achieve her end goal of getting a storage unit out of the lounge room and into the hallway. Sounds simple, but there were many multiples of items that formed a sequence of dominoes that she couldn’t untangle on her own. Talking through it and writing a checklist were exactly what she needed.  

In summary

The way I coach is a blend of causal and accountability coaching. Most of my ADHD Coach colleagues would endorse a similar blend, flavoured by their own preferences. My ADHD Sweet Spot program is designed to include some specific executive function training and support (the accountability piece) along with my personal favourite thing, mindset work and causal coaching. When it comes to ADHD both approaches can be valuable, depending on the individual needs and goals of the client, and that’s what I love to provide. 

ADHD Sweet Spot Coaching Membership

I offer my experienced ADHD coaching through my ADHD Sweet Spot membership.  Here, my members receive weekly coaching, educational material, and community support.  Does this sound like something that would help you?  I would love to see you there!

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