Key Tasks for ADD Coaching

Old headshot of Madelyn (a.k.a. MGH) long familiar from the webADD-Specific Coaching Skills

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the ADD Coaching Series

Ten Key Areas That Need Time & Attention

A Therapist or Doctor may or may not have the time to work with any of these areas.

A “vanilla coach”** may not find these skills important, agree that they are useful — or even understand why they might be an appropriate part of a coaching relationship.

An ADD Coach, however, must be prepared to include a certain amount of work in each of the following arenas — understanding how to use EACH of the ten skills below.  It’s a coach’s job to work with clients to remove “what’s in the way” of shining success.

Back-filling basic skills — insufficient, underdeveloped, or missing as the result of kludgy Executive Functioning –is the most likely suspect in the ADD population, rather than lack of motivation, resolve, ambition or many of the other things-in-the-way that are more common among vanilla clients.
**vanilla = unflavored by ADD – a “vanilla coach” means the coach doesn’t work with ADD/ADHD/EFD clients and/or has not been trained in an ADD/ADHD/EFD-specific, brain-based coach training, regardless of whether they fall on the Attentional Spectrum personally or not.


Ten ADD Coaching Skills 

 That Help ADD Clients Remove What’s-in-the-Way

1-Identifying Sharing ADD information & helping a client recognize the ADD specific issues as they appear in their lives
2-Clarifying Helping the ADDer get specific about what they are experiencing and feeling
3-Tutoring Sharing the ADD work-arounds and helping a client learn to work with them.
4-Initiation —JumpStarting “Walking through” the beginning steps of a particular task, conceptually or physically:

•  to model initial steps in a practical way
•  to identify missing skills/information keeping clients stuck
•  to help the client overcome initial inertia
•  to motivate the client to continue to take action

5-Mapping Helping a client identify the baby-steps inherent in their desired outcomes.

•  Naming the Game
•  Dividing by ten
•  S.M.A.R.T.structures

6-Prioritizing Helping a client develop structure to the tasks they are facing on the way to their goals.

•  Chunking
•  Getting it Done vs. Doing it RIGHT!
•  Delegation & delegation management
•  Working with deadlines

7-Task Management Identifying organizing concepts and helping a client implement them.
a. Organizing the mind:

•  Black & white thinking;
•  Negative scripts relanguaged
•  Managing energy

b. Organizing the physical world for support:

•  Using a datebook or planner — time management
•  Paper Organization (files & piles)
•  Creating “homes” for the physical elements in their environment that are structured and easy to use

c. Follow-through: (seeing the forest through the trees)

•  Day-to-day
•  Long term

8-Transition Management

Helping clients identify & manage problems shifting focus & energy from task to task and state to state.

a. Transitions out of  –– problems stopping
b. Transitions into– problems starting
c. Managing the gap  –– handling the time between states
d. Managing hyperfocus:
•  Hyperfocus rituals (task preparation)
•  Procrastination tasks (doing something to move life forward)

9-Documentation Helping clients create written records of their history, accomplishments, desires and feelings in an organized,
structured fashion.

•  Coaching notebook
•  Accomplishment history
•  Strengths/challenges inventory
•  Goal-setting and life-planning
•  Self-observation log/meds titration logs (for use with doctor)

10-Introducing & Encouraging Extreme Self-Care

Helping ADDers learn to prioritize personal care appropriately and manage hyperfocus that gets in the way

•  Sleeping
•  Eating
•  Exercising
•  Personal care (grooming and heath)
•  Rewards

Stay tuned – I will be  “unpacking” the skills and terms above in
 in the ongoing ADD  Coaching Skills series of posts.
(scroll down for links to articles already available)

[Shameless plug & call for help: for anyone who loves words as much as I do, stay tuned early next year for an announcement of the availability of “version 1.0” of my upcoming ADD Coaching Glossary, with an alphabetical listing of the definitions and explanations of 500 or so of the most commonly used coaching and ADD coaching terms and techniques.  Use the E-me form to contact me with interest in helping me refine it — link to the form located in the rightmost position on the top, darker, menubar]

Check out my article on Brain-based coaching
on Dr. Charles Parker’s CorePsych blog
Coaching, out where the ADHD rubber meets the road of reality

As always, if you want notification of new articles – in a particular series or category, or any new posts on this blog – give your name and email to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right.  (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too) STRICT No Spam Policy

If you’d like some one-on-one (or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click the E-me link  <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page) and I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

You might also be interested in some of the following Coaching Skills and Practical Application articles

For links to still more: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links (subtle, so they don’t distract you) will turn dark red; AND check out the links to Related Content in each of the articles below

Related Content on

Related coaching articles ’round the ‘net (not all ADD-specific)

BY THE WAY: I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

7 Responses to Key Tasks for ADD Coaching

  1. Hello Madelyn
    Finally! What a great list that puts together the Coaching skills. Helps me to read all the things I heard several times and try to remember, all in one place. Wonderful. Thank You! 🙂

    Today I am struggling with point 6. getting it done! Not only today as the task I am on is taking me days now as I try to do it perfectly! yesyes…ain’t no perfect, I know 😉

    Btw. a big grin for your term “vanilla coach”, I know this vanilla term from other occasions.
    Also thank you for the link to my article, i hope my strategy for finding a book was helpful, too. I’ve just seen your link…

    All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

    • SO SORRY your comment has been languishing sans approval — I think I’m struggling with #6 myself (getting it done). But then, knowing what to do and doing what we know is the tough part for all of us on what I refer to as the ATTENTIONAL spectrum – those pesky “Alphabet Disorders.”

      I know that my own clients, mentees, and former students were and are almost always relieved to find that I can relate to their struggles because I experience them myself — but I still have to fight the urge to beat myself up for not being a “perfect” example of what we all strive to overcome.

      Getting back on the horse every time really IS the best any of us can hope for – ADD/EFD or vanilla – but OH, how I wish I would stop falling off!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment – and I’m pleased to hear that “vanilla” made you smile. You are most welcome for the link. Thank YOU for a great article.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Madelyn
        No worries for late respond.. 🙂
        It isn’t the worst thing to know and experience myself similar things as my clients. As you say, it is a good thing to relate. And to be an expert even from own experiences. Doesn’t have to be viceversa though.

        In Astrology there is the interpretation of the Asteroid Chiron. It is from the greek mythologie and refers to the Wounded healer. I really like this analogy and it shows that we can heal or coach or help even if or in that case esp. because we are “wounded” ourselves.

        Me myself as a naturopath, of course I am not holy and live all healthy! I smoke , I like to eat and drink every here and there or sometimes more often junk food/ sweet drinks. So what? I never said I am holy or perfect, I am human just like everybody else.

        And for me , it is even more sympathetic to know others struggle, too especially when I am looking for a coach or therapist or so. The idea of sb. being perfect or pretending to be, is freaking me out! I wouldn’t take any word serious!

        And the other thing is, the quality of our work depends on what we can do FOR sb. else. How we can give a good input/ coaching that will help the other person. It has actually nothing to do with what we can do for us. For ourselves we should find some other coach who can affect and support us just the way we are doing it for others. 😉

        And for falling off: make sure to wear a good helmet! 😀


        Liked by 1 person

        • LOL – I keep forgetting that helmet part. If my “falling off” were actual vs. metaphorical, I’d probably be in an institution with permanent brain damage by now (no disrespect to my TBI/ABI readers intended by my attempt at humor at my own frequent “failures”)

          You probably already know, Eleni, that there is a book entitled “The Wounded Healer.” I read it long ago on the recommendation of a therapist friend, and it is still somewhere in my library – still disorganized since my move. When I locate it in my eventual ordering of the library shelves in my office, I think I’ll move it to bedside to read it again.

          My thoughts on coaching for coaches: Would you really go to a dentist who didn’t go to the dentist herself? None of us can, metaphorically, drill our own teeth!

          Great comment. Made me think. THANKS.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynn Vela says:

    Hi Madelyn, Do you have a glossary of your terminology? It is very colorful and fun. I would like to learn it so I don’t have to check on it in order to get the rest of your great information. thanks, Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny you should ask! My glossary is almost dictionary-sized. In addition to ADDCoaching terminology I coined that has made it’s way into common usage, I also define coaching field terms, relevant terms from other fields (like NLP, neurology, psychopharmacology, memory, cognition, philosophy, etc.). Module-relevent terms have always been included in each of the modules of my coach training (currently on hiatus) – and the glossary will be a required text for that training once I get it back in gear (potentially next January).

      It has been a l-o-n-g, time-consuming, non-billable (!) process to compile and define the terms, working as long as I can before I simply MUST take a break and work on something else, or turn my attention to activities that pay some bills! (Compiling a glossary is NOT an especially ADD-friendly activity, either, but an important one, I believe). It’s slated for publication, but needs polishing and editing first — which is even LESS friendly :-).

      I’m thinking maybe your question means I need to turn a bit of daily attention there, huh? If I thought there would be any interest from the ADD Coaching community, I have long wanted to design a “Terms & Tech” course for coaches who have had some training already. I would love to noodle the concept with you. RU Game for a discussion? I would value your feedback.


    • Hey Lynn – It seems you aren’t the only one eager to see my glossary! Beginning this month (Aug-2011), I have begun to post some articles that explain certain terms I have coined, as well as some in general usage with most of the coaching world. Most will be found under Coaching Concerns | ADD Coach Terms and Tools.

      (You can also skip down to far left corner and use the drop-down Archive menu to choose August to find most of them – one’s in Rants & Ruminations, I believe)

      I also bumped into a post that expands on most of the skills above Ten Basic Coaching Skills used most often with ADDers
      Hope this helps!


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