Personal Coaching for People with ADHD

by Mike Hinckley

I’m the coordinator for CHADD of the Mid-Peninsula, a branch of CHADD of Northern California and an ADD coach. I believe in coaching and I love being coached as well as coaching other people.

I’d been through a long period of unemployment because of a profound loss of faith in my ability to get back to work after being fired from several high-tech jobs. A psychiatrist who was treating me for depression thought I might have ADHD. He soon decided he was wrong, but not before I’d discovered books like “Driven to Distraction” and started going to CHADD meetings. I felt that I belonged in the ADHD community and started volunteering. That eventually brought me into contact with Beth Blair, an ADD coach.

I clicked with Beth. We started with small steps, steps that helped to build regular habits that let me do basic things like keep track of when bills were due so that I stopped wasting money on late fees. She helped me return to projects when I lost momentum. My progress was very erratic, especially for most of the first year. But she never lost her faith in me and my ability to do more of what I really wanted to and less of what I didn’t. She listened to me with her whole self, which helped me become conscious of what really mattered to me. And she helped in many other ways.

During our coaching I decided that I didn’t want to return to high tech work. While thinking about a new career I remembered that over the years I’ve enjoyed helping other people go and grow. As a graduate student I helped classmates pass courses they thought they couldn’t. When I was a manager I didn’t like the administrative part of the job, but I did enjoy helping other people succeed with projects and their careers. And as a support group leader for people with sleep disorders or with ADHD I’ve enjoyed helping others solve problems in their daily lives. So I decided that personal coaching would be a good new career, and that working with people with ADHD was a good specialty for me.

It can be very challenging work and sometimes requires starting by helping a client find a way to consistently remember our appointment times! Sometimes job satisfaction comes in small ways. I recently spent most of an hour session with a new client working out how they could leave the house on time for work. A couple of days later I received an email saying that they made it on time for the first time in over a year! And sometimes it’s frustrating. That same client is having a hard time doing it a second time, though I know they will.

Sometimes the satisfaction goes a little deeper. I just finished coaching a senior engineer through a six month job hunt. They found a position they really like with a very small cut in pay. This is at a time when many people are settling for jobs they don’t like and/or taking pay cuts up to 40%. Just as importantly, this client is doing some financial planning for the first time, taking better care of themselves, and spending more time with family. Along the way they learned how to negotiate for a better job offer and how to network in ways that they are comfortable with.

Of course, being coached isn’t for everyone. It requires a willingness to change and to put in some hard work. Sometimes psychotherapy is a more appropriate place to start. You also want a coach you enjoy working with and who is knowledgeable about ADHD.

If you are interested in finding a personal coach who specializes in working with ADHD clients the following web sites can help you find someone:

ADHD Coaches Organization


It is usually best to talk to at least three different coaches before making a choice. Coaching is often done over the telephone as well as in person, so choices aren’t limited to someone who lives near you. If you want to know more about coaching or are thinking about becoming a coach, send an email and we’ll set up a time to talk.

You can reach Mike Hinckley at: [email protected]