Coaching and Mentoring Introduction
Not quite a therapist
, a coach is trained to help you organize your life, coach you through difficult times in your life, help you organize and keep on-task, give advice, talk things out with those who need it, or to coach those with ADHD symptoms
Some coaches also specialize in bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder coach Bradley Foster, MA, provides numerous examples of clients for whom coaching was more effective than therapy. This might be because coaching provides both a safe haven for a client to speak openly, coaches are generally more accessible than therapists, and coaching emphasizes practicality over higher end psychology methods. For some, attention to practical areas of life is of utmost value in mental health recovery (Science Daily. 2014, August 6).
Coaching for ADHD is a well-developed field, with training and certificate accreditation through reputable organizations. Coaching for bipolar disorder is available, but is not as developed as for ADHD.
Some have opted for an ADHD or life coach rather than a therapist. While some use a coach along with a therapist or psychologist
. Coaching can help those with adult ADHD and young people with ADHD symptoms
. It can even be of value for some children with ADHD; the Nurtured Heart approach is one avenue of coaching that helps the parent and the child with ADHA, ODD, autism, FAS, PTSD, RAD, and other childhood difficulties.
An ADHD coach helps clients keep on target with their plans and goals, helps them keep organized, and provides support on a number of fronts. An ADHD coach provides services on a different level than a therapist or psychologist, and can add a layer of support
to anyone with ADHD.
(off-site link) is a professional ADHD coach whose site also features helpful newsletters and podcasts on subjects related to ADHD
What is Coaching?
Coaching is, in some respects, somewhere between tutoring and therapy
. “Coaching may be used as a first-line treatment for those with ADHD who are reluctant to use psychotropic medications or therapy,”
says a source on the National Resource Center website on ADHD.
A coach has been described as "someone standing on the sidelines giving encouragement, instruction, and reminders." It provides structure and support; it helps a client build skills and coping strategies. It has become popular among those who may not want to use a therapist and who may not even require one, but who need help with motivation, organization, and life skills (Ley, D. 2014, February 24). It deals more with the what, where, when, and how questions, while
delves more into the why.
A branch of coaching which specializes in ADHD, life coaches are utilized by business professionals, and can help those with a wide range of mental health difficulties to better focus on life skills. They can help clients overcome obstacles in their day-to-day lives and stay on target with goals. A small number of coaching professionals specialize in coaching those with bipolar disorder.
A branch of coaching which specializes in ADHD, Life Coaches are utilized by business professionals, but can help those with a wide range of mental health difficulties to better focus on life skills (Anderson, C. 2012, January 8). This can help them overcome obstacles in their day to day life and say on target with goals. A small number of coaching professionals specialize in coaching those with bipolar disorder.
What are some typical reasons someone might work with a coach?
The International Coach Federation includes coaching as an option of support for those with mental health disorders. There are many reasons that an individual or team might choose to work with a coach, including the following:
When there is something at stake (a challenge, stretch goal, or opportunity), urgent, compelling, exciting or all of the above
There is a gap in knowledge, skills, confidence, or resources
A big stretch is being asked or required, and it is time-sensitive
There is a desire to accelerate results
There is a need for a course correction in work or life due to a setback
An individual has a style of relating that is ineffective or does not support the achievement of one's personally relevant goals
There is a lack of clarity, and there are choices to be made
The individual is extremely successful, and success has started to become problematic
Work and life are out of balance, and this is creating unwanted consequences
One has not identified his or her core strengths and how best to leverage them
The individual desires work and life to be simpler, less complicated
There is a need and a desire to better organized and more self-managing
How Coaching Helps in Mental Health Support
Coaching is often used in conjunction with a therapist
also. Coaches are being used today in many areas of life, and are also used in helping people with ADHD
, depression, or other mental health difficulties (Philips, F. 2013).
Mental health coaching is a specific sub-field in coaching that can be utilized more fully by the mental health community for adjunctive support. One study reports that mental health coaching "significantly eased depression" (as well as and resulting in reduced blood sugar levels) for persons with diabetes. Many with diabetes also suffer from depression. Coaching helps those with diabetes to keep on top of self-care activities that include such monitoring, being active, eating healthy and taking medication for diabetes (American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). 2014, August 6).
Sean was a person with ADHD
who had been told all his life that he was no good; that he couldn't do anything that would amount to anything. He believed it and lived up to it. He didn't have a job, never held a steady job, and really believed that he could accomplish nothing. A mentor who served as a coach helped him realize that this wasn't the case—that he did have value, that what he had been told all his life wasn't true. He could work if he wanted to, and he could overcome his problems.
This kind encouragement, along with help with some practical matters of life as well as help in overcoming certain self-destructive lifestyles
, helped Sean to the point where he was able to hold a steady job for the first time in his life. He realized that he could be successful and accomplish something, and that what he had been told most of his life wasn't true (Samuels, J. 2009).
A coach can provide ongoing—even daily—support, helping a client through practical areas of life, and helping him or her develop coping skills in dealing with a problem or lifestyle. A person might utilize a coach daily, 15 or 20 minutes every day, or once or twice a week for an hour or two.
Compassion goes a long way for anyone going through mental health difficulties
. Many adult clients have often stated that a coach was the first person to understand the frustration of their challenges, and the first person to sincerely believe all of their stories concerning their difficulties. Having a sympathetic, non-judgmental listener who sincerely believes one’s point of view is an essential component of overcoming even serious mental health disorders.
If the person with whom you might confide is also in a position to take action, hospitalize, change one's medications, or in some way administer something that might infringe on one's self-determination, it can effect what is needed to keep open communication. This is why coaching can be a positive
step for many. It is said to be a relationship "more conducive to personal encouragement and motivation than the traditional doctor/patient relationship. The skilled coach provides an environment for open and honest communication." (Young, J., Giwerc, D.)
Benefits of Coaching for Mental Health Support
- It provides needed and continuous support.
- It helps clients identify their strengths.
- It guides the client and help him or her to build self-esteem.
- It helps contribute to a safe environment, and can help a person out of isolation.
- It can help a client develop strategies for overcoming problems and improving the quality of life.
A coach is there to help a client develop pragmatic solutions to problems, help him or her with problem-solving, get life back on track, develop a plan to accomplish his or her goals and putting these into action, and developing and implementing practical coping and healing strategies.
The coach can help with specific lifestyle issues like getting enough sleep, maintaining a good diet
, keeping TV time down to a minimum, developing an exercise schedule, and quitting smoking
, alcohol, or drugs
Though some coaches work only by phone, there are some who will go to your home and help organize bills, the home office or room, and with paperwork. For some it can be a vital link of support. Coaching can be a part of an arsenal of natural remedies, person-to-person, that can give someone the strength and determination to succeed.
Helping Young People to Focus is a Critical First Goal for ADHD Coaches
Dennis Carothers is a coach in Massachusetts who said that he felt that for adolescents the most important thing was for them to "recognize pressure situations at school and at home, socially, to identify them and reduce them." It is "a critical first step to help them to focus."
How Mentoring Helps
A mentor can provide valuable support to a young person or to anyone struggling with ADHD symptoms, depression, or other mental health disorders. The source of a mentor can be from a organization designed for that purpose such as Big Brother or Big Sisters, or it can come from the local community, family or extended family, religious organization, or from a teacher or counselor. The mentor provides ongoing support by telephone or otherwise to the one needing help. In some respects the mentor provides the services of a coach in an informal setting.
Non-judgmental support can be like a lifeline and can help build the self-esteem of the individual he or she is mentoring. At the same time, the mentor must respect boundaries of privacy and the personal determination and decision-making of the one he may be assisting, which can be a delicate boundary to consistently maintain.
Additionally, if there is family involved other than the individual needing support, respect and deference must be given to them in order to gain cooperation between all involved. Cooperation is also needed if the individual is receiving professional support.
Because mentorship might not be professionally mandated, the mentor must always strive to keep the delicate balance in assisting someone who needs support, and self-monitoring his or her own (most likely) informal role in providing the needed assistance.
References for Coaching and Mentoring
1. Anderson, C. (2014, February 14). NAMI program offers life coaching to those with mental illnesses. Postcrescent.com
2. American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). (2014, August 6). Mental health coaching improves outcomes for people with diabetes, depression
. Retrieved December 10, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140806093931.htm
Ley, D. (2014, February 24). Life Coaches and Mental Illness
. Psychology Today
3. Philips, F. (2013, April 2). Mental Health Coaching and Depression
. Coaches Training Blog
4. Samuels, J. (2005-2015). Personal notes on education and mental health.
5. Young, J., Giwerc, D. Just What is Coaching?
Retrieved from the Internet 2009.
ADHD Coaching and Mental Health Coaching Organizations
- (off-site links)
ADD Coach Academy
ADHD Coaches Organization
International Coach Federation - ICF
Nurtured Heart Approach Coaches Listof Coaches
- Coaching for difficult children
Bipolar Disorder Coaching
Giant Steps Coaching
ADHD CoachingNurtured Heart Approach
, Marc Norris - Quebec, English, French - Skpe U.S. and internationally
Pathways to Success
- AD/HD and LIFE COACHING
Elizabeth Ahmann, ScD, RN
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