As more people seek out ADHD and student coaches, I want to stress to both coaches and prospective clients that coaching is a client-directed process. The coach must clearly communicate the details of their coaching process and review the client’s expectations to confirm that they are in alignment with coaching. Coaches need to share that the client is responsible for deciding on their goals and working with the coach to design a collaborative plan of action in order to reach those goals. Clear, consistent communication is imperative in cultivating trust and safety with clients of all ages and fostering a fruitful coaching experience for both client and coach.
“I’m always amazed when coaches who have encountered an obstacle during the coaching process ask, “How can I make the client do this or that?” when I know all too well that we coaches can’t make clients do anything. Yet, coaches sometimes feel that it is their job to independently fix a particular problem or challenge that is occurring during coaching. These coaches forget that coaching is a joint process and that concerns are often best brought directly to the client. Instead of leaving a challenge unspoken, coaches can bring questions to the attention of the client for a collaborative discussion. If the coach has a concern that the client is unhappy with coaching, for example, the coach should feel free to come right out and ask. “How is this working for you?” “How might we make things better?” and “What is your level of interest in coaching at this time?” are the kinds of questions the coach might use. Open, honest communication is a simple but powerful tool for working through coaching obstacles.”Sleeper-Triplett, J. Empowering Youth with ADHD, Ch.9, pg.197.
Coaches are responsible for checking in with clients on a regular basis throughout coaching to check on client well-being, progress, and level of continued investment in coaching. Coaching is not a quick fix and coaches are not responsible for doing the work for the client. While some student coaches also provide tutoring, that is a separate service and not to be confused with the coaching process itself. There are times when a client will benefit from brainstorming and sharing ideas. A list of resources can also be helpful, especially for those recently diagnosed with ADHD and executive function difficulties looking for a better understanding of neurodiversity, strategies and supports available external to coaching.