Monday, August 10, 2009

The Coaching Process: How It Works

In an earlier entry I touched briefly upon what coaching is and how it helps individuals with AD/HD.

This week I want to talk about how coaching is done. Of course every coach has his or her own unique style of coaching and/or model; so, once again, I’ll be speaking in general terms.

Most coaches start out by having a brief initial conversation with the potential client. In this initial exchange it’s to remember coaching is a partnership—it’s a two-way street—meaning each party is “interviewing” the other for what I call “a good match.” The coach accesses if the client is ready to be coached and is a good match, and the client accesses if the coach is the right one for him or her.

The criteria a coach uses in deciding who is a good client for coaching are several. The main one is, is the client ready, willing and able to be coached?

People of all ages and from all walks of life can benefit from coaching. The individuals who benefit most have a strong desire for personal growth and improvement. They are ready and committed to take action and participate fully in the coaching process. They also must have the willingness and desire to be accountable to their coach.

Coaching is based on a wellness model; if overriding problems with depression or other medical issues are inhibiting daily functioning of the client and are left untreated, then the coaching will not be successful. Very often the coach will work in tandem with the individual’s various healthcare providers to overcome these obstacles.

The client in turn must know what he or she wants from the coaching process before contacting a potential coach. This is easier than it might seem. Simply make a list of the issues you are struggling with and ask the coach how he or she would coach you on that particular issue! This way you’ll immediately get a sense of the style of coaching as well as competence level. What you’ll want to ask is: Does this person have an understanding of AD/HD? Do I get a sense she/he “gets” my challenges? Do I like his or her style?”

Of course, other basic considerations should be taken into account, such as: Has this person been trained as an AD/HD coach? How long has the coach been coaching? Does he or she have coaching credentials, or is she/he working toward any? How many clients has the coach worked with? What are some examples of successes the coach has had with clients?

Once you both decide it’s a good match, you then move forward to what is called the “initial interview or intake.”


The coaching process begins with an initial interview in which the client shares goals, history, and current challenges with the coach. The coach and client together develop a strategy and a roadmap specifically designed to meet the client’s individual needs. The coach guides the process, provides the structure, asks questions, and offers feedback, but the client drives the process forward. Regular meetings and check-ins are an essential part of the coaching process. These contacts can be in person or by telephone, texting or email. Periodic reviews can also be established to monitor overall progress. The lengths of these sessions differ between individual coaches. Some offer 30-minute sessions three times a month, while others offer one-hour sessions four times a month.

In this initial session other issues are covered such as a coaching agreement that reviews the parameters of coaching—what it covers and does not cover—and other general procedures such as payment and cancelation policies.


Since the coaching process is unique for every individual, the time frame for individual coaching relationships varies. Some clients need to hire a coach for a short-term project, while others hire a coach for long-term goal achievement.

The goal of coaching is to provide the external support and guidance necessary to jump-start the process until the client learns the skills necessary to keep him or her on track over time.

Ultimately, ADHD coaching helps the client learn about his or her own brain and its deficits in order to demystify them. When individuals have an understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, they are then able to develop concrete, sustainable strategies to maximize their unique abilities. Coaching helps transform an “I can’t” attitude into an “I CAN” attitude. The brain can learn! This is the energy that helps clients make positive, lasting changes in their lives.

I hope this helps everyone to gain greater insight into how coaching is done!

Until next time, warmly,