This is the first in a series of articles about coaching skills. We hope that they will either show you a new technique to use in to working with clients or remind you of something you knew once but haven’t been using much. In the end, as, of course, we’re never “wrong” we’d like to hear how you might handle the situation. Fill in the comment box at the end of the article to share your thoughts or notions with the rest of the members of the ACO.

The ICF Core competencies list under

D. Facilitating Learning And Results: 9.c. “Engages the client to explore alternative ideas and solutions, to evaluate options, and to make related decisions”

The IAAC lists in their core competencies under

C. Skillful Coaching, 2. h. “Reframes and offers different perspectives to increase awareness” And under

D. Fostering Learning, 2.d. “Explores client’s typical and fixed ways of perceiving himself/herself and the world.”

What might this look like in your ADHD coaching?

When a new client presents his course of action, or when an existing client decides to shift his, how can you be sure that what he’s said he wants is the truth?

Maybe “the truth” is not the right question, perhaps it’s more like, “Is it the best truth?” This is really all about making decisions.

In the rush to help clients with ADHD stick to some plan there is a danger that the ADHD coach might jump in too quickly to name the steps to reach the stated end.

Consider this scenario:

A client with a small web-based business says,

I think I need to hire some employees to get this business really moving. More people who could write code would give me the freedom to go out and find more work without having to do all that work on the other end.

When it seems clear that the client believes this is the only course of action and doesn’t seem to have considered other possibilities, suggest that the client name his other options ­even if he has no intention of pursuing any of them at this time.


Sounds like you’re committed to this plan. This would be a big move for your business. Could we just think about some other ways that you might be able to make more sales?


I could hire a sales person on commission, then I wouldn’t have to spend so much and I wouldn’t have to go out so much.


I could schedule my time better so that I see people in the mornings and write the code in the afternoon.


I could get more efficient with my marketing, so I could close more deals quicker. I could join a networking group.

In this first part of the process, the coach’s job is to get the client to consider as many possibilities or options as he can to move forward in this situation. I’ve often heard ADHD coaches laugh that the hardest part of doing this work is to get the clients to STOP listing more ideas. And maybe that encourages the coach to skip the options step. But it is important.

Next ask the client to consider that each one of these options, in turn, is actually the ultimate decision. What would the business and the client’s life look like, feel like or be like? Get the client to put as much detail into each scenario as possible.

When he has worked through each situation, ask him to choose one. It might still be the one he started with, or it might be a different one. The choosing, the deciding, is the first step to making a commitment to a process. Having gone through other possibilities at the outset might also help the client to not second guess his decision later.

Now is the time for the coach to help the client make a plan. This is the part that ADHD coaches tend to be skilled at. But making the plan based entirely on what the client starts a conversation… well, you get a great plan but no real commitment to the process.

Commitment is key making the plan work. So be sure to ask the client specifically if he is willing to make that commitment. This is an opportunity for the client to mentally review what he’s just figured out and be sure that he understands what he thinks you’ve discussed.

Here’s the jumping off place for the session. Ask the client about the specific steps and how he sees them fitting into his life or schedule. Being clear about the next step is often the difference between success and procrastination. Help the client be realistic in his choices.

Finally, ask the client what should happen if he does or doesn’t manage his task.

And now the question:

How would you handle this situation? Click on the button below and add your comments. It’s all part of starting a dialog.