What do ADHD coaches and therapists do?

 In Grade-schooler, Q&A, Teen, Tween, Young Adult

ADHD coaches and therapists offer practical support and insights to children, teens, and adults (as well as to their parents or spouses) struggling with a lack of focus and follow-through, poor executive function and organizational skills, poor life planning skills, and other issues related to ADHD. A few examples:

  • missed homework assignments
  • a messy, disorganized backpack and notebook
  • difficulty organizing thoughts, especially when writing school papers, emails, or other written communications
  • constantly losing or misplacing things, like books, phone, or items of clothing
  • a tendency to over-promise and underdeliver
  • poor eating and sleep habits
  • difficulty prioritizing and planning for the future
  • trouble getting started on any work or school projects

How they help:

Knowing what to say and do to help a kid or young adult with issues like inattention, getting organized, and time management struggles is just plain hard. The usual rewards and punishment seldom work. Pep talks rarely have any effect, even when they’re well received. For most of us, this is one of those maddeningly frustrating areas where expert guidance can make a big difference (and help to restore household harmony).

The best ADHD coaches and therapists help kids create a structure, find a network of support, and give them a set of skills and tools that are truly life-changing. The earlier they develop those skills and supports, the greater the difference it can make in school and beyond. But it’s never too late.

Cost:

ADHD coaches’ rates generally fall between $50 and $125 an hour. The rates for psychologists and other therapists who specialize in ADHD are usually higher—$100 to $200 an hour. But therapists are more likely to be covered, at least in part, by insurance. Also, if you, your coach, or therapist want to start with a thorough psychological or psychoeducational assessment, that can easily cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to more than $1,000, depending on who’s doing it and where you live. Those assessments are sometimes partly covered by insurance.

What to look for:

When choosing a coach or therapist, ask how long they’ve worked in the field, their educational background (a background in psychology is often helpful), and their training. It’s also a good ideas to interview at least two or three candidates to find someone who seems like a good match for your child’s age, personality, and issues.

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More good things to know or do:

  • Interview any coach or therapist you’re considering (1:1 is best, or at least by phone or Skype) to make sure he or she is a good match for you and your son or daughter. Key questions to ask:
    • Will you want to start with some kind of evaluation or testing? If so, who will do it, and what will it cost?
    • How (and how often) will you want to work with and support my child—in person; by phone, email, or Skype; daily or weekly check-ins?
    • Who else might you be working with or referring to: a physician, a tutor, others?
    • Is it likely that you’ll recommend medication—and, if so, what’s been your experience with that and how do you see that working?
    • What have been your toughest challenges, and how are those kids doing?
    • Can I talk to some of your recent clients?
  • If your child is struggling with any severe emotional, behavioral, or psychological issues—such as a mood disorder or anxiety—you’ll most likely want to see a psychologist or other licensed therapist.

Photo: jenny cu/Flickr

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