by Linda Walker
Coaching is an extremely effective option to consider when seeking help with adult ADHD. Dealing with your adult ADHD will require some changes in your life, but humans are hard-wired to maintain the status quo, so without a plan to implement change in your life, you may learn what do intellectually, but you’ll stay in your comfort zone and wonder why nothing ever gets better. Group coaching can help.
In group coaching, an ADHD coach works with up to 15 clients simultaneously, usually by telephone, making it more convenient than face-to-face meetings and more affordable than one-on-one coaching.
Initially, many of my clients share the same fears about group coaching. Later, often to their surprise, they also discover many of the same benefits. Since ADHD group coaching programs can be a very effective approach to improving your life as an adult with ADHD, I asked one of my clients to help shed some light on this subject.
Doug Snyder, from California, who initially had concerns about group coaching and about coaching on the phone, but who became a big fan of the group coaching experience for adults with ADHD, agreed to share his experience.
Coach Linda: One question I get all the time is, "Won’t a bunch of ADHDers on the phone together just be chaotic?"
Doug: This was a concern. I thought a group of ADHDers on the phone would be a nightmare, with everyone talking over each other. But I found that very quickly, you identify with your peers, and people have important things to contribute. Excellent moderation is essential, especially early on.
Coach Linda: Coaching by telephone does take a little practice, but a coach trained to offer group coaching provides a structure that allows every participant to speak without interruption. The group sets ground rules from the start, and all members are "deputized” to help enforce them. One rule is to use "laser speak”, that is, speak concisely, make your point and avoid details that don’t contribute to the group’s understanding.
Doug: I was surprised at how quickly we participants took ownership of the group and helped to enforce the rules. We are all very committed to the success of all the members of the group.
Coach Linda: The ground rules, stating your name before you speak, and if more than one person starts to speak, everyone stops until we figure out who’s turn it is, are essential to running a good group. Courtesy is important.
Coach Linda: Does everyone get to speak?
Doug: Everyone does get a chance to speak. I was surprised at how courteous everyone was. People who tend to speak up more would defer to others so they had a chance to speak, and would even draw out quieter people so they participated more.
Coach Linda: Was working with a group boring, or stimulating, and if so, how?
Doug: Listening to someone share their experience was authentic and valuable. You could identify with their experience, relate it to your own and learn from it, or even just commiserate with them; listening to someone else who is going through the same things you’re going through, you realize that it’s not as bad, and certainly not as unique, as you thought.
Coach Linda: I thought it was interesting when someone would share, and you could hear a chorus of "Oh yeah” and "Me too” in the background.
Doug: When that happened, the magic you feel inside is that suddenly, you realize, "I’m not alone.” You got that without having to share everything yourself. You can get that feeling by listening to someone.
Coach Linda: I imagine you develop a close bond with the other members of the group.
Doug: Oh yeah, you develop a deep bond, sharing your commitments and rooting for everyone’s success. You realize quickly that you’re not alone, and you’re not bad. And you realize you don’t have to rely on your same network for support, the spouses and co-workers who’ve been dealing with this. They’re tired of this, or they don’t understand, and ADHD can be all consuming, so having other people to turn to for support gives them a break.
Coach Linda: As a visual person, is it hard to pay attention or focus when people speak?
Doug: Initially, I thought, "How will I remember anything if I don’t see it?” But as ADHDers, we’re interest-driven, and people are saying interesting things. It’s easy to concentrate!
Coach Linda: What about privacy and "airing your dirty laundry in public?”
Coach Linda: When setting the group’s ground rules, we stipulate that what goes on in the group must stay within the group. Furthermore, we all agree that judgment has no place in our group. However, some people are worried about the loss of privacy.
Doug: This was a concern, but it melted away almost immediately. The shared experiences were so similar to your own, so common among all of us, and the description was often laced with humor so you could laugh at it a little bit, and it’s no longer about you being broken, but you share a common experience that’s part of life and it’s okay. Hearing that from other people is actually liberating.
Coach Linda: Were there things you felt you couldn’t share with the group, and how was that addressed?
Doug: I found that even group coaching might bring up something, you become present to something that you may want to deal with privately, but the group coaching acts as the catalyst. You may want to deal with it with your coach one-on-one or with other people, but the group coaching acted as a springboard rather than as something that was holding you back.
Coach Linda: I'm sure most group coaching programs also include a few sessions of private coaching. Mine do.
Doug, thank you for sharing about your experience with group coaching. I'm sure it will help some people who were hesitating to be able to come to a better decision about what coaching might be right for them.
Linda Walker is a Professional Certified Coach and ADHD Certified Coach Graduate. She offers several group coaching programs including The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses, designed specifically for ambitious adults with ADHD seeking to improve their productivity. Learn more at http://www.coachlindawalker.com.