View Full Version : A Coach to Cope With ADD


Tara
04-22-03, 11:32 PM
A Coach to Cope With ADD
By Robert J. Davis

15 April 2003
The Wall Street Journal

WE ALL KNOW the type (or maybe it's you): They have short attention spans and can't complete projects or make it to meetings on time. They're disorganized and even have trouble sitting still. A growing number of such people are being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder -- a condition usually associated with children. And increasingly, the treatment includes working with an ADD "coach" -- a professional who can help with everything from managing time to maintaining relationships.

Coaches are not intended as alternatives to psychotherapists. But unlike therapists, they're not regulated and have no specific training
requirements, so you have to be careful when choosing one.

By some estimates, as many as eight million American adults have ADD. There is no definitive test for the condition, and the diagnosis includes symptoms that apply to many normal people: inability to concentrate, procrastination, impulsiveness, addictive behaviors, and problems with organization and time management. The key difference is that these adversely affect relationships, careers or family life.

Typically the treatment is the same as that for children -- stimulant drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall, which aren't specifically approved for adult ADD (though doctors are free to prescribe them to adults). A new nonstimulant medication called Strattera is the first to be approved for adults, and the marketing surrounding it is expected to boost the number of people who seek help -- including coaching.

Some mental-health experts don't believe that adult ADD is a legitimate condition requiring drug treatment. But many of them agree coaches can be helpful for people who have tendencies associated with ADD and need to learn new skills.

It's estimated there are as many as 1,000 ADD coaches nationwide. They help create structure for clients, provide encouragement, and teach skills and strategies for achieving goals such as paying bills, eliminating clutter, or leading a healthier lifestyle. After an initial face-to-face meeting,
clients often have weekly phone consultations lasting 30 to 60 minutes and additional shorter calls and e-mail exchanges throughout the week. The cost, which ranges from $50 to $300 an hour, isn't covered by insurance. Coaching can last for months or years, depending on the needs of the client.

To find a coach in your area, ask a mental-health professional for a
referral or check out the Web sites www.addconsults.com or www.americoach.org. Find out what type of training the coach has. Ideally, they should have a background in psychology, social work or education and have gotten instruction from an ADD
coaching trainer. Ask how long they've been coaching and how many clients they've worked with -- especially ones facing the same issues you are. Get the coach's fees in writing (including charges for quick e-mails or phone calls) as well as assurances that your information will be kept confidential.

Make sure the coach does a thorough initial screening, and beware of anyone who recommends medication or who tries to do psychotherapy (e.g. delving into deep-seated emotional issues). A coach should coordinate care with your doctor and therapist. Remember that no studies prove whether coaches are effective, and you should keep your expectations reasonable. Even the most focused and organized among us still procrastinate and daydream sometimes.