Français français
Coaching Key
to ADD


About Sarah Jane

About ADHD

Coaching for ADHD

FAQ about Coaching
Therapy vs.Coaching
Am I Coachable?
Brain Skills



What you can do


Contact me

Therapy or Coaching?

If you have or think you have AD/HD (Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hyperactivity), you have probably thought about therapy, or maybe even done some therapy for a while, but for many people with ADD traditional talk therapies don't work. Can Coaching help? How does Coaching differ from therapy?

Therapy focuses primarily on mood, a treatment that heals painful memories. Coaching is an education designed to guide and structure.

ADD is not an illness which needs to be cured; it is a difference at the level of basic neurological processes. It interferes with learning of all kinds from book learning to social skills. How it interferes varies from one person to another. It needs to be understood and managed. An ADD trained coach teaches about ADD, observes and reflects how ADD is affecting a client's life, and guides (nags) him to find and use tools or strategies to set directions in his life and to take responsibility for moving forward.

Therapy may also be necessary. Children with ADD often behave in a manner which draws negative comments and punishments.

"You are so lazy! You can't go out until you've cleaned up your room."
"You are crazy! Can't you get into your head, that hitting people is wrong?"
"You forgot your homework again? I never thought that a kid of mine could be so stupid."

Such negative comments can have a lasting effect on a child's self image. As a child with ADD almost certainly has at least one parent with ADD, family life can become very complex and mixed up. Therapy may be necessary to treat the wounds inflicted in childhood or to unravel the complex relationships which develop.

  • Denise came for coaching because she had considerable difficulty staying focused in her low level clerical job. Her coach told her to see a doctor knowledgeable in ADD. He prescribed medication, but Denise didn't or wouldn't take the medication as prescribed. It became apparent that Denise, in her late twenties, was very dependent on her Mother and had never taken charge of her own life. Her Mother did not believe in ADD and was against medication. Denise could not profit from the coaching until she resolved the relationship with her Mother: a therapy issue.

  • Hank had been seeing a therapist for several years. In the end she told him he was hopeless and she could do nothing for him. During coaching, he learned how ADD was affecting his life. Knowledge about ADD helped him see that he was not a failure and gave him strategies to sort out his life.

  • John Ratey in his book Shadow Syndromes relates the story of Debbie who had been in therapy for twenty years to resolve problems stemming from her rigid and controlling mother, but she never seemed to make much progress. Dr. Ratey diagnosed and treated her for ADD. Once the ADD aspect was recognized, the years of therapy in which she had learned to observe herself helped her to quickly achieve her dream of writing.

  • David had sold a business which he had created for 13 million dollars; now he was a bit lost. He wanted to find another activity, but he didn't really know how to start and his desk was in chaotic disorder. He consulted a coach to help him get started, but after several weeks of failing to follow through on her requests, she "fired" him and told him to see a coach for ADD.

How does Coaching work for ADD?

The difficulties posed by ADD come from the non-linear nature of the ADD brain; your thoughts may skip about from A to Z and back to B. Thus organizing clothes, papers or tasks may be a major challenge. Time has a nebulous elastic quality which means that the time to do a task is often underestimated. Planned projects are abandoned,and following through on the simplest tasks is a rarity. Social relationships are often strained by misunderstandings.

As your coach, I know you as a healthy whole individual who wants to manage his life more effectively. I help you recognize your strengths and your personal learning style and to use them to set goals and make changes in your life style to fulfill those goals. You will learn to use routines to manage everyday business.

Knowing how ADD affects your life often throws an entirely new light on past experience, removing the sense of failure and guilt which develop from a life in disarray.

Coaching is generally more flexible than therapy. Coaching can be done by telephone or in person; once a week or every day; it can be tailored to your needs.

Which Therapy?

The first requirement for a therapist is knowledge of how ADD works in people's lives. Traditional therapists are trained to consider mood as primary, to assess how a patient feels and seek the reasons for such feelings in the past. ADD is a problem of basic cognitive processes and mood may be a secondary result of those processes.

A therapist for ADD needs to be more directive than traditional methods. The traditional method of asking the patient to say whatever comes into his mind often leads to a stream of unrelated material or an aimless monologue. The therapist needs to prompt and help structure thoughts and associations. He needs to help the patient pay attention to what is important and let go of what is irrelevant.

Success girl

A Multimodal Approach to AD/HD Success

Coaching and therapy are complimentary and you may benefit the most by working with a coach and a therapist.

More about coaching:

FAQ about Coaching Therapy vs.Coaching
Am I Coachable? Brain Skills

Copyright© 2003, Sarah Jane Keyser, all rights reserved.
Images copyright © by CoralDRAW 9 under laws of U.S., Canada and elsewhere. Used under license.