Guidelines: Do I Choose an ADHD Coach, A Therapist, or Both?

This is a guest post, contributed by Sandy Maynard, M.S.

Many adults newly diagnosed with ADHD want to rush right out and get a coach to help them with their time management and organizational problems. Although that is what coaches do, therapy may be needed first.   How to decide?  In some situations it may make more sense to work with a therapist first.

The first order of business is to learn about treatment options (see Melissa's free e-book about treatment on the home page for an excellent overview.)  Processing any overwhelming emotions with a therapist first establishes a firm foundation upon which coaching can proceed successfully.  Certainly untreated co-occurring conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and/or obsessive compulsive disorder should be treated properly with medication and/or therapy for coaching to produce maximum results.  This certainly doesn’t mean you have to have your act together to begin working with a coach, as helping you get your act together is what coaches are here to help you do.  But a good rule of thumb is to remember that coaching works best when clients are ready, willing and able to be coached, and in certain circumstances therapeutic and/or medical interventions may be needed first.  Does this mean that coaching can’t proceed while seeking therapy?  Not at all, many clients do quite well when working with both a coach and a therapist.

Following are some guidelines to use in making your choice:

When to Choose Therapy First:

  • Substance abuse
  • Untreated co-occurring psychological conditions
  • Uncontrollable anger/emotional disturbance or debilitating shame
  • Severe avoidance behaviors
  • Obsessive resentments/finger-pointing and blaming
  • Denial of an official diagnosis
  • Wanting to know  ‘Why’ instead of ‘How” “What” “When” and “Where”
  • A need to talk about the past
  • Severe negativity
  • Debilitating fear of change

Choose Coaching When in Need Of:

  • More efficient time management skills
  • Clutter control/organization strategies
  • Help with restraint of pen and tongue (and emails!)
  • Improving decision-making skills
  • Improving communication skills
  • Developing healthier sleep hygiene, nutrition and exercise habits
  • Managing ‘information overload’
  • Developing daily, weekly and monthly routines
  • Crafting a personal policy for use of technology
  • Initiating and finishing projects that typically get avoided
  • Dealing with procrastination and perfectionism
  • Learning patience and avoiding impulsive reactions

Sandy Maynard, MS, works in the Boston area and nationally by Skype.  She has helped adults with ADHD lead happier, healthier, more organized lives for over 20 years, and helped develop national ADD coaching guidelines.  You can reach er at [email protected].