Choosing a Coach

Coach for ADHD

Richard Webster, the author of this article, is the coordinator for CHADD of Northern California.

In my position at Rena-Fi, I’m often asked, “How do you choose a coach?” First, I believe it’s important to ask yourself, “Is it a coach I need, or something else?” 

Coaching can be effective for people struggling with executive function issues. With organizational issues. With goal and priority issues. But, coaching will only be effective  if you adopt a “coachable” mindset. Only if you believe in the coaching process and  decide to adopt a “growth mindset.” (Ref: Growth Mindset: Carol Dweck of Stanford) 

Coaching is Not Therapy

Realize that coaching is not the same as therapy. Don’t expect it to be. That’s your first fork in the road. To dramatically over-simplify the issue, therapy deals with how your perception of the past is impacting your present while coaching draws a map to take you from your present into your desired future. Therapy deals with emotional dis-regulation and “baggage” while coaching takes a pragmatic approach. Coaching will generally not be successful if you’re not dealing with any underlying therapy-appropriate needs. The coaching process asks the  question, “Where to from here AND, how do I get there?” 

Then, assuming you’ve cleared those decision gates, it’s time to begin the selection  process. Experience, academic education and degrees all have bearing. For me  personally, “chemistry” was top of my criteria list … always has been. For certain, your  chosen coach must have an understanding of the struggles of ADHD. If they don’t you’ll  likely find yourself struggling and oppositional. That’s all to say, there is no one “best”  coach out there. But there is one that is the “best fit” for you. Find that one and you’ll be giving yourself the best chance at success. 

Note: For coaching to be successful you must be willing to let go of the things holding you back. Unfortunately, those are often the very things we often cling to most tenaciously. If you don’t trust in the process and the coach enough to let go of your old ways, coaching will be a waste of  your time and money.  Worse, it will be one more failure for you. Choose wisely. 

Can you honestly say this to yourself? “I’ll listen and make the changes I need to make.”  Yes? Then read on. 

People, perhaps looking for a short cut, ask me, “Well, how did you choose?” There is no shortcut … but here is a bit of my selection process. 

Here are the expectations and goals I had when I sought out my first coach twenty years ago. After considering dozens possibilities, I chose one. 

Below, is an excerpt direct, unedited from the email I sent my coaching choice.

“I’m expecting someone who is highly results oriented. Given that, to be worthy of such quality & commitment, I know I have a responsibility, too. A responsibility to learn, to implement, and to succeed thereby proving the value of your coaching! Our interests will be EXACTLY aligned in that respect.” 

You might phrase it differently. What’s important is commitment to the process. Any coach that doesn’t expect commitment from you isn’t the right coach … period. 

More cut and paste from my application:

Here’s what I’m looking for: 

1) To learn to stay on track and remain focused on my daily and longer-term business plans. 

2) To break the procrastination/avoidance/self-defeatist cycle I seem to fall into repeatedly. 

3) To achieve a better balance in my life. 

4) To receive unvarnished objective feedback as to my progress or lack thereof. 

5) To curb some of my impulsivity and side step the areas where I seem to f … um … slip up. 

6) To be accountable to someone who has a thorough understanding of the somewhat unstable/undisciplined nature of my ADHD brain, yet who has zero tolerance for excuses. You know? A brilliant, compassionate drill sergeant! LOL (Is that a triple oxymoron? LOL) 

7) To receive guidance, re: the ongoing refinement of my “vision and purpose.” 

8) I’m looking to be fully engaged in the coaching process with the aim of termination and full independence within the not too distant future. I want to fly on my own!” 

I think it was Einstein who said something to the effect of “we can’t expect to solve problems with the same thinking that caused them in the first place.” That’s paraphrased and I suppose he was talking about political/military types tinkering with the unimaginable powers of the elementary particles that underlie the construction of this strange world. However, it suits my logic. I knew I would not be able to resolve my issues without there first being an infusion of “new thinking,” and a bit of synaptic rewiring.

I hope this helps. Select carefully, be open to change, and be committed. Remember, victory goes to the most committed. 

Richard Webster, the author of this article, is CEO and founder of Rena-Fi, Inc. His opinions and viewpoints expressed do not necessarily reflect that of Rena-Fi, Inc.

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4 Responses to Choosing a Coach

  1. Kathy says:

    Thank you for all this information. I’ve never heard of someone having to apply to see a coach. So, I’m wondering where a person completes an “application” for a coach?

    • Rick Webster says:

      Thank you for the inquiry,

      Most coaches use an “intake form” to help them understand what the prospective client wishes to accomplish and to get a feel for where they are in their lives presently. It is an “application” as such, because the coach is evaluating whether the prospective client is a good candidate for their particular strengths and skill sets.

      As to where to complete it: Once you’ve identified a coach you’d like to work with and make the intial contact, that coach will discuss their particular intake methods. It is at this point that they would likely discuss the form, its importance … and send it to you.

      In my experience, the prospective clients who take the time to do a thorough job on this initial coaching exercise are the most successful throughout the coaching process. Personally, when I get back an incomplete and skimpy intake form I’m instantly aware that this person is probably not ready for coaching. I might suggest some alternatives but I would not want to take their money knowing I probably can’t help them.

      I hope this helps,

      Rick Webster

  2. David A Patten says:

    I’m an adult.
    Need help finding ways to deal with not being fuctional in reading and wrting. I aften have trouble fining my words.

    • Rick says:

      My first question is whether or not you’ve sought out a full diagnosis. There are many co-morbid conditions which are common among us ADHDers. Dyslexia and Aphasia come to mind. But I’m NOT a neurologist or psychiatrist. An informed and comprehensive evaluation can save you a lot of time and expense. Once you know what you’re struggling with, then your next steps may clarify. Best of luck to you, Rick

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