I often get asked the following question: What is the difference between coaching and therapy. There are many forms of tools that can assist one to overcome problems. There is coaching, consulting, mentoring, parenting, and therapy. The following idea will help explain some of the differences. Let’s look at how each of the above forms of “therapists” go about supporting the individual who is having a difficult time learning to ride a bicycle.
Therapist – Goes through the baggage that you may be carrying that may be holding you back form being able to ride successfully. The therapist goes through the root cause of your fears around riding, and falling off your bicycle. The therapist asks you questions like if your parents rode, and explains to you why that question is a valid question, and how that can influence your current challenge in learning to ride a bicycle. The therapist will explain the importance for your self-esteem and self-confidence if you learn to ride.
Mentor – Shares their personal experience of learning to ride a bicycle, and will give you tips and advice on the most effective way to ride a bicycle. The mentor may hold a position that they know better than you because of their past experience. They will advise you on the best bike to buy, and top tips like how to change a tyre. The mentor will warn you about potential dangers of traffic and how to deal with it effectively.
Parent – Will buy the bike for you, may put on and take off the training wheels when they think you are ready. The parent runs next to you as you are learning to ride and cheers you on until you can ride independently. The parent may occasionally threaten to take away riding privileges if you don’t listen to ground rules.
Consultant – Is the expert in understanding and teaching the mechanics of riding a bike. The consultant will teach you the laws of physics, what you need to do for optimum balance, and how the bicycle is propelled forward. The consultant will advise you where to sit and put your feet and when to pedal. The consultant may even suggest a training program to upgrade your riding skills or your bicycle. When you have learned to ride, the consultant leaves.
Coach – Listens to your dream to ride a bike. Asks you if you need instructions and if you know where to get them from. The coach will ask if you like the colour and model of the bike. They may even go with you to choose one and help you get on it. The coach runs alongside you as you are learning to ride and will ask if you are enjoying the experience. The coach will ask you what you need to do take care of yourself if you fall. The coach will ask you to reflect back on your experience and ask you if you have any future goals in the area of riding a bicycle. If you do have further plans, the coach will ask you what those plans would be and how you will reach those goals. If you don’t want to continue riding, the coach may ask you if you would like to sell the bike.
(Adapted from Michael Stratford MCC)
The coaching process is an equal partnership between the coach and client. They both work together to understand the client’s challenges, and create strategies to navigate the obstacles that prevent the client from achieving his goals. Coaching focuses almost entirely on the ‘here and now’, paying minimal heed to the client’s past, other than to provide the context necessary to relate to the client’s life in the present. A qualified ADHD coach understands that the individual does not purposely choose to sabotage his potential. The coach will guide the client to appreciate his unique talents and to see that they are just as capable and creative as anyone else. The client simply requires a different shaped key to unlock the vault of his potential.
ADHD coaching – For those with ADHD, therapy is not the answer. A specialised coach who has undergone extensive training in ADHD, and who likely has personal experience with ADHD, in themselves or a family member, will provide you with insights into how your ADHD challenges may be holding you back from reaching your goals, and is equipped with specialist ADHD tools to help you manage your life.
It is critical that someone with ADHD consults an ADHD coach, as opposed to a regular life coach.
A certified ADHD coach has the knowledge and skills to explain how ADHD affects the development, structure and activity of the brain. They can help their clients to use this understanding to develop the most appropriate strategies for moving forward.
PROBLEMS UNIQUE TO ADHD
To give just a few examples, only a certified ADHD coach understands:
Why those with ADHD perform better when there are deadlines and how to use specific tools to create more deadlines.
Why those with ADHD are not lazy, and how to understand the difference between lazinesss and lack of motivation, and how to find the key to the client’s inner self-motivation.
The benefit of an accountability partner, who will check in to ensure that the person with ADHD is on track with their goals.
How to counteract the ADHD brain’s tendency towards impulsive behaviour by developing the ability to pause.
Why fidget spinners are of little use to children with ADHD whereas other fidget toys could be invaluable.
Why incentives are so much more effective as behaviour modification tools than punishments.
PRACTICAL EXAMPLES OF ADHD COACHING
You need an ADHD life coach who hasn’t just done one module of training in ADHD. You owe it to yourself to get a coach who IS ADHD through and through; who sees the world through ADHD eyes; who breathes ADHD; who lives the ADHD success life despite their ADHD.
The difference between ADHD coaching and therapy is:
When my client tells me “She feels so unfocused and doesn’t know if she is coming or going” I don’t dump her, like an EMDR therapist did to my client. The EMDR therapist said that if she was so unfocused, then she refused to work with her, she said it was a sign that the therapy wasn’t working… When she feels unfocused, I support her and give over tools to help her become more focused and grounded.
When I ask my client a question I listen patiently when it takes her longer to formulate an answer, and her answer is more verbal, than someone who hasn’t got ADHD. And I know how to move the session onwards, and finish on time.
When I have a phone session with a client, and sense that she has lost focus, I am calm, and patient and I wait till her focus comes back to the session. I don’t lose patience with her and tell her off like a psychotherapist said to my client. She had attended sessions for 18 months, and the psychotherapist never once realised that she may have ADHD. I picked it up after the first session.
I never assume that my client will remember the homework goals. I always email them the homework goals after the session.