Debunking Quick-Fixes – Introducing 4 ADHD Coaching Stages
If you’re looking for a quick fix, coaching may not be the right place for you.
Many people consider coaching when they’re tired of doing the same thing over and over again. But too often, potential coachees think that a coach is someone who will ‘teach them’ or ‘cure them’ or ‘fix them’. And, although wishful thinking and hoping helps you, in actuality, ADHD coaching is in no way a quick fix.
Change just isn’t that easy. The first stage of an ADHD diagnosis can be surprising, as some people experience a grieving process. But coaching does not assume there is a ‘broken’ you. Instead, the ADHD coaching stages provide a clear path of self-discovery, which can progress over the course of several months.
To start, it’s helpful to kick the false belief that coaching ‘cures’ you – to the curb. Instead, I encourage you to think of coaching as a growing and learning evolution. And, we all know, evolution takes time. So, to provide a framework it can be helpful to think of coaching as a process and see progress in the form of stages.
Although each coach approaches his/her practice differently, there are four distinct stages in ADHD Coaching, and they can be compared to the stages of learning/building competence. This is why it’s helpful to review The Competency Model.
The Competency Model
This model is well-known in the training/educating world. It assumes that learners desiring to build new skills are unaware of what or how much they know. When building new skills, this low level of awareness, (unconscious) is often partnered with a lack of competence (incompetence). Before a learning experience begins, learners are unaware of what or how much they do not know (unconscious incompetence), and as they learn, they move through four distinct psychological states to reach a stage of unconscious competence.
To adequately design a new learning experience, one must identify learning needs and develop learning objectives based on where a learner enters the four stages related to a given topic.
The four learning stages follow:
1. Unconscious Incompetence
In unconscious incompetence, the learner isn’t aware that a skill or knowledge gap exists.
2. Conscious Incompetence
In conscious incompetence, the learner is aware of a skill or knowledge gap and understands the importance of acquiring the new skill. It’s in this stage that learning can begin.
3. Conscious Competence
Once a learner begins to use the skill or perform the task, they engage conscious thought and practice to build competence and efficacy.
4. Unconscious Competence
When a learner reaches a level of unconscious competence, that individual has enough experience with a skill to perform it so easily they do it unconsciously.
The Competency Model has helped trainers and teachers identify a learner’s emotions and needs. For example, a learner in a stage of unconscious incompetence will respond differently to training than a learner in conscious incompetence. If someone doesn’t know there’s a problem, he or she is less likely to engage in the solution. On the other hand, if someone is in conscious competence, he or she may just need additional practice rather than training.
This competency model works well to frame out a coaching experience. As you can tell, learning experiences can be immediate, but to build competency, efficacy, and confidence, it takes practice and time.
Now, let’s compare the competency model to a coaching model for change.
ADHD Coaching Is Model For Change
Some clients enter a coaching relationship in the place of ‘unconscious incompetence’, as in they don’t know what they don’t know about making a change. While others enter into coaching from a place of ‘conscious incompetence’. They may have tried (conscious) a million ways to [fill in the blank], yet have not yet had the success they desired (incompetence).
Keeping that in mind, let’s examine the stages of coaching.
ADHD Coaching Stage 1 – Building Awareness & Pouring the Foundation
The first stop on the ADHD coaching train is building awareness. This may seem obvious, but many people with ADHD struggle with both self-awareness, as well as awareness of others around them.
So, a coaching partnership typically beings with an initial strategy phase where coach and client align on purpose, process, and clarify the measurable goals for coaching. After all, people seek to work with a coach for change. And in order to change in the ways you want, you must take notice of where you are now (build awareness), and conjure your vision of where you’d like to be in the future. Then, you’re more able to set measurable, personal, achievable, and meaningful goals at the start.
Often the first coaching goal is to begin to recognize how your ADHD symptoms show up. When you can see how ADHD comes to play in your life, you can make important links to causal neuroscience. Developing awareness to spot how your ADHD symptoms show up daily, takes time.
Also during stage 1, we recognize and distinguish small actions you can take daily and weekly. And, when you take them, you begin to build habits and develop routines. Designing accountability pathways gets you on track to build more consistent behaviors to meet your goals.
Building awareness serves as your foundation to change. And, everyone learns and adapts at a different pace. So based on your starting point, it may take between 2-4 months before you’re ready to move to the Ideation/Adaptation Stage.
ADHD Coaching Stage 2 – Ideation & Adaptation
During stage 2, regular weekly sessions help you build momentum. You’re invited to experience yourself and pause in any situation to gather data and become a keen observer of your own life. You are beginning to build conscious competence and trying out new behaviors, approaches and habits.
During this stage, your coach encourages you to think creatively and vary your approach. You’ll continue to approach problems with curiosity and become aware of limiting beliefs and behaviors that may no longer be useful. Your coach keeps you on track and persisting toward your goals. She helps build accountability as you brainstorm new behaviors, systems and approaches.
You will continue to deepen your observation and awareness. With time and practice, pausing in the moment of your experience becomes easier and more helpful. This allows you an opportunity to see patterns to help you crack the code of how to live more successfully with your ADHD.
In this stage, you’ll begin adapting long-held beliefs and behaviors to support continued success. You experiment with routines, redundancies, and fail-safe workarounds to solve for executive functioning breakdowns. By externalizing your systems and processes, you get them out of your head and into the world. This frees up your RAM/working memory.
ADHD Coaching Stage 3 – Integration & Accountability
During this ADHD coaching stage, coachees are experiencing many fewer breakdowns and many more successes. You’re naturally building behaviors and batching actions into cadences and habits. When you create habits, you need much less brainpower to do things. Staying accountable builds more success, which keeps you motivated and in action.
In this stage, you will begin to experience unconscious competence. You’re deepened awareness helps you focus only on the strategies that work for you and quell that shaming voice that used to breathe down your neck.
You build on awareness and continue to take specific actions to work until goals are achieved. At this stage sessions, can be done twice or at least once monthly. During this stage, clients feel confident, strong, aware, and accountable for how they are living. They know they can evoke change, align resources, and get their needs met.
ADHD Coaching Stage 4 – Systematizing and Adapting To New Normal
This is the stage of coaching that celebrates living well with ADHD. Here, you’ve integrated new awareness into your rhythms, built routines and are noticing positive shifts in your relationships. You have a unique, specialized, personal way of managing your life. You are more focused on measuring your success, and much less focused on failures. During this stage, many clients join group programs with regular touchpoints to keep them on track.
ADHD Coaching is
In conclusion – ADHD Coaching stages help you set your expectations on the journey that it can be. ADHD Coaching is a co-created partnership that expedites awareness, action, and completion. Because an ADHD coaching relationship is co-created, we’ll determine the best approach and timing to fit your busy schedule. I recommend a regular, consistent meeting schedule, we’ll use Zoom (or phone) sessions, email, and texts to stay connected throughout your coaching package.
Why do I recommend ADHDcoaching so highly? I’ve seen it work for me and so many others. I’ve worked with several coaches to help me bring my mission to help others find clarity and accept themselves exactly as they are. It’s my mission to make the world a better place by helping you accept yourself as you uniquely are! Working with coaches has been the single fastest way for me to bring the solutions I wanted and stay on track toward my goals. And ADHD Coaching is one of the best ways to catapult you toward your goals, manage your priorities and stay on task. So if you’d like to explore whether ADHD coaching stages will work for you, click here to book a complimentary discovery call and learn more.