Monday, June 10, 2013

Does Your ADHD Teen Need a Coach Instead of a Therapist?

In a recent article on, titled "ADHD Coaching: Look to the Willow Tree" talks about how ADHD might be better well treated if looked at as not a diagnosis, but as a behavioral issue that can be "coached" through.
For example, much like a mentor, or a personal trainer, an ADHD coach would address a teenagers troublesome behaviors, like forgetfulness, by teaching them new behaviors that would help them adapt to their issues, like using reminder technologies or forming new routines to make everyday items easier to find.

Overall, the idea behind coaching for ADHD teens is to empower them to acknowledge their issues and to formulate ways to handle them on their own terms, on their own, so that they can cope successfully as adults.

Of course, this may work for some of our Foster or Adopted kids, and might not work for some, but we feel that empowering the kids that CAN learn to deal with their own behavioral issues or habits, well, you should at least try.  We are all coaches everyday in some way.... we just need to concentrate our efforts perhaps with our ADHD kids as they grow older on teaching them how to help themselves.

Read the article below, what do you think?

Partnering with a coach of any kind can lead to rewarding self-discovery. Whether specified as executive, life or career coach, these people are essentially teachers at their core. And as progressive educator/ liberal philosopher John Dewey remarked throughout the context of his life’s work in educational reform, you cannot so much teach individuals, or impart knowledge, as actually only help those who desire to learn.
The best teachers are essentially mentors (and counselors of sorts), drawing out any little glimpse they can sense and intuit that someone near them has even the smallest seed of will or fascination to learn a new fact or method. Such learning may not come easily, though, especially with a learning-disabled student or individual.
There are coaches who specialize in helping those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well. One such coach in Pittsburgh, Penn., Susan Lieber, is an impassioned counselor for those struggling to make sense of their debilitating neurobiological condition.
Lieber’s focus is to help her clients “develop a language to advocate for themselves.” This is no small task for those whose esteem is shredded by their lessened ability to prepare for important tasks, establish daily routines, see tasks to completion and remember where everyday objects were placed — not to mention having a loss for words other than the pat self-label ADHD to describe their challenges. “I have a hard time with managing unscheduled time” would be one way to define yourself to the outer world, Lieber posits, as opposed to saying “I am ADHD.”
A former occupational therapist versed in cognitive-behavioral strategies, as well as a former pain clinic researcher, Lieber decided to go into coaching for the reason many do — a deep interest in significantly applying her existing skillset and keen ability to effectively work one on one with folks. Many of her clients are high school students diagnosed with ADHD, and others have similar problems. In the case of the former, she tries to help them move toward an adult life on their terms and in a manner that “makes sense to them.”
This involves “developing an awareness” of behaviors and actions. It is apparent from talking with her that Lieber masterfully culls those slight seeds of desire for change and improvement in the lives of these young people who may be frustrated with themselves and their place in the world.
Her work as a coach is behaviorally-based and focused on education, as she has observed that really all ADHD individuals “want change… want better outcomes.” So Lieber figures out “what kinds of support the client needs.” She stresses here that the ADHD experience “is unique to each individual, and for a lot of reasons.” She has an apt term, pivoting — “getting clients back on track to where they need to be”– to describe the goal of her coaching sessions.
Through the coaching process, ADHD individuals can, according to Lieber, “gain a better understanding how their brain works” and learn tactics “to manage day-to-day demands.” Identifying solutions comes about in a mutual manner, with the coach encouraging honesty, humor, and “a steadfast belief” in themselves, which she exemplifies. “Coaching is all about asking questions and really listening,” she says.
Lieber also is a certified organizer coach, providing a more in-depth service to select individuals who are coming to her for ADHD counsel. Here she models and continues to identify effective strategies for the ADHD client, evaluates effectiveness and joins in helping that person develop some “habits for lasting change” in their home environment or elsewhere.
ADHD coaching, as addressed on Lieber’s website, “can help you sort through the physical and mental clutter that is limiting you….” She defines her help as empowering — truly helping people set up a life “which includes supportive persons, routines and spaces that is aligned with the things that matter most.” As Lieber also describes it, “Imagine replacing feelings of frustration with understanding and confidence… and developing a deeper awareness of what’s significant.”
After some coaching sessions, some family members have said things such as “now I understand my loved one doesn’t do this [lose keys or can’t get out the door on time] on purpose.” And the clients themselves? Instead of “feeling like you can do it all but falling short,” they are learning new behavioral approaches that speak to their unique lives, yet fitting those individual lives better into the larger whole of society.
The New York Times recently ran an article about the possible connection between sleep disorders and ADHD, suggesting that ADHD may be really be a sleep disorder in disguise. Nevertheless, the symptomatology is debilitating, and an ADHD coach such as Lieber can effectively address what is disrupting an otherwise fulfilling life.

Read more here:

image: Noncommercial Some rights reserved by Rapid City Public Library


  1. Great read, will re-post on my blog with a link here. Thanks again for insight. :-)

    1. Thanks MsMoozy, We thought it was interesting too, and at least an approach worth trying and thinking about.

  2. Very interesting. I am amazed at how things go around time and time again. I am sure ADHD has been around since forever. From behavioral to disorder to behavioral.
    I agree with you that coaching will work for some and not for others. I am glad the options are widening and that parents can now find a way that is more appropriate for their child. No need to medicate a child who does not need it. And how comforting to know that meds are available when coaching doesn't help.

    1. Great points Gabi, You really have to know your own child, and yourself as well. Sometimes parents don't challenge their children, or foster kids, relying too much on drugs, or on early diagnosis (maybe the diagnosis was wrong, or has changed and no one has really looked back on it?) so approaching a teens behaviors again from an empowering point of view is a great idea for kids who will be living independently. You want kids to be independent and successful. We have to try to give them the tools to do it.

  3. This is a great post ! it was very informative.

    1. thanks Bruce, if you give it a try, let us know how it works for you.

  4. It is a great idea to try for an ADHD coach who can encourage the teens suffering this disease thus making them able to formulate their own ways for handling various issues. This will save the precious time and money of parents in comparison to normal adhd diagnosis. Overall, it is a nice article to share!

    1. Thanks Marlya, we thought so too.... thanks for taking the time to comment.