Otherwise, he added, “one negative or anxious thought can just set you off. It starts to snowball.”
René Brooks, an A.D.H.D. coach and creator of the website Black Girl Lost Keys, said an effective coach will understand that many clients have the best of intentions but still have difficulty meeting their goals.
“It’s not a matter of trying harder, it’s a matter of trying differently,” Ms. Brooks said.
What does the research say?
The latest peer-reviewed research on coaching appears promising. Even so, most of it is has focused on college students and, to a lesser extent, group coaching for adults, so there is still much more to learn about how individual adults fare.
Among college students, A.D.H.D. coaching may lead to improvements in grade point average, well-being and the mental processes that help students plan, focus and remember instructions.
Elena Schmitt, 24, who graduated earlier this year from the University of Michigan, credited A.D.H.D. coaching with raising her grades and helping her earn her degree.
She had done well in school until her first year of college, when her grades started to fall. By junior year she was on academic probation. Her parents, who are both clinical psychologists, helped her get an evaluation that would eventually lead to a diagnosis.
“I went 21 years of my life not knowing that I had A.D.H.D. and dyslexia,” she said.
She has been working with her coach, Dr. Rosier, for nearly three years. In the past, Ms. Schmitt said she had often judged herself harshly if she didn’t meet a deadline or lost focus, but through coaching she has learned to treat herself with compassion, and received the “skills and guidance to live comfortably in my brain.”
Transitioning to college can be much more difficult for people with A.D.H.D., in part because they are entering a less structured environment with bigger challenges that require more executive functioning skills. That makes it an ideal time for coaching, said Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, a pioneer in youth A.D.H.D. coaching and the founder and chief executive of JST Coaching and Training, which trains people to become A.D.H.D. student coaches.