Understanding ADHD

ADHD Coaching

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects our ability to control impulses, focus on tasks, and pay attention to details. ADHD symptoms may begin in childhood and continue into adulthood, causing significant difficulties in everyday life. People with ADHD often face daily challenges in managing time, organizing their environment, and completing tasks. On the other hand, they can be spontaneous, creative, resilient, intuitive, observant, energetic, funny, and courageous, with extraordinary problem-solving abilities and excellent presentation and speaking skills.

Effect of ADHD on Students' Academic and Personal Lives

ADHD can profoundly affect a student's academic, social, and daily life. These conditions can jeopardize a student's learning in many ways, such as difficulty paying attention in class, trouble managing frustration and regulating emotions, challenges with self-control and impulsiveness, weaknesses in planning and time management, and lack of organization. ADHD symptoms can include:

  • High distractibility and forgetfulness
  • Difficulty holding information in working memory
  • Challenges demonstrating knowledge and ability in testing situations
  • The inability to summon and sustain effort and regulate alertness

ADHD can cause various difficulties, such as decreased academic performance, low self-esteem, and problems with social interactions. It can also lead to deficient self-regulation, which can cause anxiety and depression in some individuals. ADHD coaching can help alleviate these problems by providing support and guidance to students, helping them learn to manage their daily lives more effectively.

ADHD Coaching

What Is an ADHD Coach?

An ADHD coach is a life coach who is specifically trained to help students better manage their academic and personal lives. Evoke's approach to coaching is collaborative, supportive, and goal oriented. Coaches employ open-ended questions to elicit unique, individual patterns of responses and, through this process, engage students in self-regulatory behaviour to initiate change in their own lives. ADHD coaching can be instrumental in helping a student understand and change their mindset, shifting them from the place where they seem stuck to a state where they are comfortable addressing what is uncomfortable. All our coaches are mental health professionals who understand ADHD and hold certification in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Research supports the efficacy of CBT for treating the core symptoms and difficulties associated with ADHD as part of a multimodal treatment plan.

Mindfulness and Meditation

ADHD coaching often incorporates mindfulness and meditation practices to help clients improve focus, manage impulses, and cultivate self-awareness. This increases their ability to sustain attention on tasks, cultivates better emotional regulation, and reduces impulsivity.

Task Breakdown

Coaches assist clients in breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. This approach helps people overcome feelings of being overwhelmed and encourages a structured approach to completing tasks. Outcomes include improved task initiation and completion rates and a greater sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.

Visual Aids and Reminders

ADHD coaches may use visual aids, such as charts, calendars, graphs, and sticky notes to serve as reminders and prompts for important activities and routines. These enhance memory retention and recall and reduce the likelihood of forgetting important tasks or deadlines.

Accountability Systems

Coaches implement accountability systems to encourage consistent progress. This involves regular check-ins, progress reports, or rewards for meeting specific goals. The benefits include improved adherence to routines and schedules and the reinforcement of positive behaviours and habits.

Recognizing the Overlapping Strategies

While ADHD coaching has a distinct emphasis, there are overlapping strategies that benefit individuals who also have executive function challenges.

Strength-Based Approaches

ADHD coaching methodology leverages a strength-based approach to build on the client's existing skills and talents. This encourages individuals to recognize their strengths, fostering a sense of empowerment and confidence.

Cognitive-Behavioural Techniques

Cognitive-behavioural strategies, such as cognitive restructuring and reframing negative thoughts, are used by ADHD coaches to help clients manage their emotions and develop healthier habits.

At Evoke, we provide students with the tools they need to achieve their academic and personal goals. Our coaches understand the biological underpinnings of ADHD, the core symptoms, and their frequent comorbidity with executive dysfunction. ADHD coaching addresses the academic, emotional, and interpersonal difficulties resulting from these symptoms and helps students find ways to overcome their challenges. Through individualized support, coaches help students concentrate on where they are now, where they want to be, and how to get there. Students can better realize their goals with a strong plan and regular check-ins to extend accountability.

Consistent Communication and Personalized Guidance

Efforts made by students between coaching sessions are as important as the work completed alongside their coach. Evoke coaches assign exercises to reinforce discussed strategies and skills. These assignments are vital, and we are always ready to assist those needing added guidance. The exercises serve as an opportunity for students to engage in self-reflection and take decisive action. They encourage adherence to established plans, promote weekly goal setting, and assist students in pinpointing barriers that hinder the achievement of their objectives.

By offering personalized guidance, coaches empower students to focus on their present situation, envision their desired outcomes, and formulate effective strategies to reach those milestones. This tailored approach informs the coach's commitment to understanding each student's unique needs, ensuring a supportive learning environment that fosters growth and progress.

Collaborative and Goal-Oriented Approach to Coaching

Our coaches employ a collaborative and goal-oriented approach, ensuring that students actively participate in their learning process. This personalized approach enables the development of practical, research-informed skills and strategies tailored to each student's unique needs and aspirations. By working in close partnership with students, our coaches foster an environment of mutual trust, open communication, and shared responsibility.

To ensure progress toward identified objectives, our coaches establish a well-defined plan that outlines the steps necessary to achieve each goal. Regular contact provides opportunities to track progress, address challenges, and fine-tune strategies. This ongoing support and accountability are key to empowering students to take ownership of their learning journey and build the self-efficacy needed for long-term success.

Through this dynamic coaching process, students improve their academic performance and develop critical life skills, such as time management, goal-setting, and problem-solving. Our coaches are dedicated to cultivating these abilities, empowering students to become confident, self-directed learners equipped to navigate the challenges of education and beyond.

Focusing on ADHD

ADHD coaching is a practical intervention that specifically targets the core impairments of ADHD, such as planning, time management, goal setting, organization, and problem-solving. Coaching helps students understand the opportunities and challenges of their neurodiversity, establish habits that lead to accomplishing goals, and manage any obstacles they might encounter.

Coaching sessions may focus on helping students understand how the symptoms of ADHD play out in their daily, personal, and academic lives. Coaches work with students to identify their personal and academic goals, translating them into concrete actions, creating awareness of self-sabotaging behaviours, and raising students' understanding of what they could and are willing to do differently to meet their goals. Coaches provide encouragement, feedback, and practical suggestions to address specific challenges, holding students accountable for following through on their goals, and providing the external scaffolding they require to manage their challenges.

Benefits and Outcomes of ADHD Coaching

Students who engage in coaching develop enhanced self-determination skills, engage in more positive thoughts and behaviours, take greater responsibility for their actions, use goal-attainment skills to manage stress more effectively, and improve study skills and learning strategies. They experience increased self-awareness, self-esteem, and satisfaction with school and work, and are more likely to persist in postsecondary education. They have significantly better retention and graduation rates than those who did not receive coaching.

ADHD coaching offers many benefits to students, including a better understanding of their neurobiology, unique challenges, and strengths, improved focus and attention, better time management skills, and enhanced self-awareness. By working with an ADHD coach, students can learn strategies to help manage their symptoms and improve their academic performance, increasing their confidence and overall well-being.

Students participating in ADHD coaching often report better communication skills and improved organizational skills. They also experience greater motivation and a sense of purpose, which can lead to more significant academic success and stronger future job prospects. Coaching can also help students with significant transitions, such as moving from elementary to high school and high school into postsecondary education.

Additionally, ADHD coaching can help students overcome negative thoughts and emotions associated with their condition, improving self-esteem and overall life satisfaction.

ADHD coaching offers a practical, evidence-based intervention that can help students learn to manage their daily lives more effectively, develop new strategies to manage their symptoms and improve their academic performance, and increase their confidence and sense of well-being.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ADHD and would like to change, contact Evoke today to learn more about our coaching services.



How does ADHD affect executive functioning?

Executive dysfunction is not universal among individuals with ADHD (Doyle, 2006; Willcutt et al., 2005); however, students with ADHD who do have executive function deficits have greater academic impairment than those who do not.

Some experts believe that the main cause of ADHD is a basic difficulty in controlling impulses. This includes struggling to stop an immediate thought or action, halt an ongoing action, and avoid getting distracted by unrelated things. Lack of control over impulses makes someone easily react to their surroundings or inner thoughts. This can lead to problems like getting easily distracted, forgetting things, not finishing tasks, and making careless mistakes. Tasks that are lengthy, multistep, or inherently challenging will be particularly vulnerable to disruption. Recent research provides evidence that individuals with ADHD have deficits in time tracking, which may make it more difficult for them to estimate how long a task will require or how much available time has already elapsed.

People with ADHD often have diminished sensitivity or responsiveness to reinforcement (rewards) and experience particular difficulty on tasks or activities that are inherently effortful or aversive and that provide little immediate gratification. This explains why delayed or deferred reinforcers, such as advanced educational degrees, job promotions, and accumulated savings toward large purchases appear to be less effective in motivating and sustaining effort toward those goals in individuals with ADHD.

What is the main goal of coaching for someone with ADHD?

The core objective of ADHD coaching is to bolster the individual’s capacity for planning, organizing, and task completion. Through this coaching, we aim to equip students with effective strategies, tools, and skills that improve self-management in both academic and personal spheres. Specifically, we:

  • Provide Tools: Offer essential resources to meet academic and personal aspirations
  • Offer Guidance and Management: Provide support in navigating academic pursuits and daily life
  • Deliver Instruction on Academic Skills: Deliver research-informed techniques and strategies for academic success
  • Address Challenges: Identify and address academic and emotional challenges stemming from ADHD/executive function deficits, assisting in finding solutions
  • Enhance Self-Awareness: Help students reflect on and identify barriers
  • Deepen ADHD Understanding: Aid students in understanding their ADHD symptoms and their effects, inside and outside the educational environment.

Can medication for ADHD replace the need for ADHD coaching?

While medication can alleviate some ADHD symptoms, ADHD coaching provides practical strategies and skills that medication alone might not address. Many people find a combination of both to be the most effective. Research shows that the right ADHD medication can help increase focus and productivity, reduce impulsivity, improve mood and memory, and increase attention to detail. Medication is only part of a comprehensive management plan; it does not address deficits in time management, organization, and planning. Students may also require the use of accommodations (e.g., extra time, assistive technology, writing in a quiet space), tutoring in areas where they have skill gaps, learning and executive function strategies, and cognitive behavioural therapy. 

Stimulant drugs have been shown to be effective in reducing the core symptoms of ADHD but are often inadequate at addressing the functional challenges of students. Studies have shown that approximately 80% of children with ADHD have fewer symptoms after finding the correct stimulant medication and dosage. Clinical experience indicates that because of the likely lack of developed metacognitive skills in people with ADHD, drug treatment alone may not be sufficient to remediate deficits, and explicit skills training in these areas may be necessary.  

Is there scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of ADHD coaching?

Yes, scientific research supports the effectiveness of executive function coaching, particularly for individuals with ADHD. A study by Dawson and Guare (2010) showed that executive skills coaching could lead to improved executive functioning, which subsequently affects academic and daily life performance. With ADHD coaching, individuals often experience:

  1. Improvement in Executive Function Skills: Multiple studies have shown that targeted interventions such as executive function coaching can lead to improvements in specific executive function skills (e.g. planning, organization, working memory).
  2. Enhanced Academic Performance: Research indicates that coaching can lead to better academic outcomes, including improved study habits, time management, and grades.
  3. Better Self-Regulation: Some studies suggest that people who receive executive function coaching have stronger self-regulation, which includes improved emotional control, impulse control, and self-awareness.
  4. Generalization of Skills: A critical goal of executive function coaching is to teach skills that people can implement in different settings (e.g., school, home, work). Evidence indicates that this outcome can be achieved through consistent coaching and practice.
  5. Improved Quality of Life and Self-Efficacy: Beyond academic and work performance, evidence suggests that coaching can enhance overall well-being and self-confidence, particularly for people with ADHD.
  6. Positive Long-Term Outcomes: Some longitudinal studies indicate that gains made through executive function interventions during childhood and adolescence can have lasting effects into adulthood, contributing to better occupational and social outcomes.

Individual coaching results can vary based on factors such as the quality and consistency of coaching, the specific challenges faced by the individual, and the person’s motivation to engage in coaching.

Do I need a formal ADHD diagnosis to benefit from ADHD coaching?

 Evoke offers coaching services to students from Grade 9 through postsecondary. To participate in the ADHD Coaching Program, students must have been diagnosed with ADHD by an experienced mental health professional. Written confirmation of the diagnosis is required. Students do not require a formal diagnosis to participate in Evoke’s executive function coaching. 

How are coaching sessions conducted at Evoke? Are they in-person or online?

Evoke primarily offers online coaching services. This format ensures increased accessibility, especially benefiting those located in remote areas or facing transportation challenges. As a result, clients often experience more consistent session attendance and active engagement. Recent studies have suggested that online coaching can match the effectiveness of traditional face-to-face coaching for specific groups and conditions. For example, research by Hauser et al. (2020) demonstrated that telehealth ADHD interventions for college students were comparably effective to in-person approaches.


Is ADHD coaching covered by insurance?

The cost may be covered through a health benefits plan under social work or psychotherapy. Coverage varies by insurance provider. It's always a good idea to check with your insurance company about coverage specifics before starting sessions.

In Ontario, for students eligible for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), the BSWD and the Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities (CSG-PDSE) help full- and part-time postsecondary students with the costs of their disability-related educational services and equipment, such as ADHD coaching.

How do I schedule an ADHD coaching session?

Following the intake process, the student is paired with an ADHD coach based on the background information provided to Evoke, the needs of the student, the practitioner’s coaching style, and personality fit. Once the student is ready to begin their coaching program, the dates and times of the sessions are scheduled directly with the ADHD coach.

Is there a minimum commitment for ADHD coaching?

The ADHD Coaching Program encompasses 13 core topics, with two sessions dedicated to each topic. This means a minimum duration of 26 one-hour sessions if each topic is covered in the intended two sessions; however, students have the flexibility to proceed to the next topic if they feel proficient after the first session, or spend an additional session if they need more time. There is a minimum commitment of attending sessions once a week for consistency and to develop routine and structure. Make-up sessions can be arranged when students or practitioners are ill or have a sudden emergency. Please see Evoke’s policies and procedures for further information.

Evoke requires 48 hours’ notice to reschedule a session and four hours’ notice in case of sudden illness or emergency. Clients are required to provide 30 days’ notice to change or cancel services. Services may be cancelled at any time with the required notice.

What benefits can a student expect from ADHD coaching?

Participating in ADHD or executive function coaching can lead to:

  • Improved Organizational Skills: Develop better time management, organization, and planning capabilities.
  • Enhanced Academic Abilities: Experience stronger learning and study strategies.
  • Deeper Insight: Gain enhanced self-awareness and a comprehensive understanding of how ADHD influences both personal and academic aspects of life.
  • Boosted Confidence: Notice an increase in self-esteem and belief in one's abilities.
  • Overcoming Delays: Learn effective strategies to manage and reduce procrastination.
  • Amplified Drive: Benefit from a renewed sense of motivation in various tasks and activities.

Is there a certain age or maturity level at which ADHD coaching is most effective?

Evoke’s ADHD and executive function coaching is suitable for students in Grade 9 through postsecondary who have been diagnosed with ADHD or executive function deficits and are ready to make a change. Students who struggle with self-regulation, impulsivity, and poor organizational skills can benefit from coaching sessions, as can those who have difficulty with focus, time management, and planning. Research shows that improvements in executive function will not occur until adolescence, around age 14. (Crone & van were Molen, 2004), and so adolescence is an ideal stage for executive function and ADHD coaching. Until then the best approach is parent coaching.

How long does it typically take to see progress with ADHD coaching?

Progress often varies among individuals. Generally, sustainable and notable improvements require regular coaching sessions for several months. On average, students engage in coaching for a period of four to six months. The ADHD Coaching Program delves into 13 core topics, allocating two sessions for each topic. This translates to a baseline of 26 one-hour sessions; however, based on their confidence and grasp of the content, students can choose to advance after one session or opt for an extra session. To ensure continuous progress and self-discipline, students are advised to attend at least one session weekly.

Who are your ADHD coaches?

Evoke’s ADHD coaches include registered social workers, certified ADHD coaches, and psychotherapists trained and certified in cognitive behavioural therapy, and have experience working in a coaching, therapy, and/or academic strategy role with neurodivergent students. For families with private health insurance that covers social work and/or psychotherapy services, the sessions may be eligible for reimbursement.


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