ADHD Coaching Without a Diagnosis? Certainly!

Parents sometimes bring their children directly to coaching, skipping the typical paths to diagnosis, when they learn of the issues that seem to be impeding their children’s ability to achieve. Oftentimes, poor time management and organizational skills or difficulty staying on track at school are the reasons parents and young adults seek out coaching. A specific diagnosis of ADHD, executive dysfunction, or learning disabilities is thus not necessary to initiate coaching. For some families, it is preferable to start by focusing on the issues through coaching and consider a full diagnostic workup at a later time. If the initial prescreen and intake indicate that the young person is coachable, the client might try coaching for a while, but if the coaching process becomes inhibited or is made difficult by the young person’s symptoms, the coach is likely to recommend that the client go in for psychoeducational testing with a psychologist or make an appointment with a doctor. For example, I meet young people in coaching all the time whose families have learned of me from friends’ parents without ADHD ever being mentioned on either side. “You should try coaching,” one mom might say to another. “The coach really helped my son get his grades up.” The new young person’s parent then reaches out to me to help her daughter with her organizational abilities or some other skill issue without our discussing ADHD. The daughter may or may not have a diagnosis of ADHD—we don’t necessarily need to know for coaching to proceed. Coaching is a process focused on goals and outcomes, not on a specific diagnosis. As a result, a diagnosis of ADHD is sometimes deferred and coaching is entered straightaway. If the need for a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist arises, coaches can then offer the young person the appropriate referral/s.