College & University ADHD Coaching

COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY ADHD COACHING: Supporting academic success and mental health from registration to graduation

Heading off to college or university is an exciting time in life—a time of new challenges, new freedoms, and new friends. But it’s not an easy time. Being a young adult embarking on something totally unfamiliar means big expectations and responsibilities. It’s hard meeting new demands while moving from adolescence to adulthood; it’s even harder when ADHD is in the mix. Coaching can be an effective therapy for young adults with ADHD who are struggling with daily goals at home and school, and who want to make their dreams happen, too. At Possibilities, we now offer ADHD Coaching throughout post-secondary school—from registration to graduation—to ensure that students stay on track, meet school deadlines, maintain healthy lifestyles, enjoy positive mental health,  and are supported every step of the way as they navigate expectations throughout their school years.

Here are some common questions we are asked about our College & University ADHD Coaching Program, along with our answers.

In college and university, test dates, assignments, and deadlines accumulate quickly. Even the most organized student will experience some struggles keeping up consistently. With ADHD, deadlines can come and go at high speed—and once students fall too far behind, it can become impossible to catch up. We’ve seen too many students start school with high hopes, but drop out feeling defeated and ineffective before the year ends. Their grades suffer—and so does their mental health.

College & University ADHD Coaching, offered by our Psychotherapy and Coaching Treatment Team, is an innovative approach for supporting students—throughout their entire time in post-secondary school—based on the brain science of motivation and learning, and on principles from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)  to support mental health. Coaching can help students get started on tasks, persist with grit, and get stuff done. Our coaches are also licensed health and educational professionals, so the psychotherapy and educational support built into our coaching service ensures ongoing mental health support as work is getting done.

Research studies show that coaching is an effective therapy in ADHD for building confidence and supporting follow-through on work and goals for children, teens, and adults. With ADHD, it’s hard to stay focused on tasks and get work done, especially if tasks are demanding and not too exciting. It’s also difficult figuring out the steps needed to work through tasks, and to estimate how long those steps are going to take. The desire to spend more time with friends adds to challenges, too, with school work and other responsibilities often being pushed aside and tackled at the last minute. Coaching is effective in ADHD because clinicians help clients tackle goals and expectations systematically by identifying concrete steps, estimating objectively how long steps are going to take, predicting distractions and barriers, brainstorming strategies, creating timelines, and checking in regularly to see what worked and what didn’t. In post-secondary school, coaching can help students stay organized and on top of their work across each semester until graduation. Coaching sessions that happen regularly—for example every week or every two weeks—also serve as consistent support for mental health over an entire school year.

Generally, an ADHD Coach is someone who helps people with ADD or ADHD achieve specific, meaningful, and measurable goals. At the Possibilities Clinic, all our coaches are licensed health or educational professionals. Registered psychotherapists, registered social workers, registered occupational therapists, and licensed teachers offer coaching services as part of our Psychotherapy and Coaching Treatment Team. That means our coaches—as licensed professionals—must adhere to specific training and practice guidelines defined by their profession. Our coaches are reflective and creative in their problem-solving, informed by their deep expertise in ADHD and what the brain needs for effective scaffolding to support success. Psychotherapy from licensed coaches with expertise in this area—and offered as part of the goal-setting process in our College & University ADHD Coaching program—also supports our clients’ mental health.

Our coaches use various approaches—from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to support mental health and promote sustainable change to Psychoeducational approaches that explain how the brain works and how specific strategies can support skills called Executive Functions. You can learn more about how CBT works to support mental health and task completion here. Our coaches are experts in ADD and ADHD, so they understand that all sessions—regardless of approach—must acknowledge the brain’s need to have tasks broken down systematically. Our coaches also understand that ADD or ADHD can easily sway a student from work—no matter how strong the intentions to follow through on goals may be. Our coaches will consider a student’s personal preferences for sessions, too. Doodling and visual notetaking are part of our Coaching Program for those who like drawing. Regardless of approach, our coaches speak with secondary students about goals and expectations, discuss steps and strategies for work completion, consider challenges and distractions that are likely to get in the  way, and talk about how obstacles can be managed when they arise.

Yes. Ironically, just as young adults are gaining more independence—with some leaving home for the very first time—the risk of mental health challenges in the maturing brain increases. Some students may become increasingly withdrawn and anxious, shying away from others and throwing everything they have into work while fearing failure and denying themselves a balanced experience at school. Others may become more outgoing and impulsive, making fast and risky decisions without thinking. Parents and coaches recognize the incredible vulnerability of students on the precipice of new-found independence. Our coaches are licensed health professionals trained in approaches like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).. Given this expertise, they  monitor mental health while also supporting academic progress throughout the school year. To ensure that mental health is monitored consistently, regular coaching appointments every one to two weeks through the entire school year is strongly recommended.

There are common expectations in secondary school that must be met if students aim to stay enrolled and graduate as their long-term goal. Solid mental health is also key—no matter where students are enrolled or what program they are pursuing. Program requirements and methods of evaluation may differ across schools, but here are some general goals that are set with support in coaching:

  • Monitor mental health and other challenges that come up in college and university, like meeting new social and emotional demands of being away from home and making new friends, making healthy decisions around substance use, sleep and healthy eating 
  • Outline steps to register clinical documentation at Student Support Services to determine eligibility for accommodations
  • Support making course selections and building a manageable schedule
  • Log assignment and test dates collaboratively to increase accountability through deadlines
  • Learn effective note-taking skills like sketch noting
  • Develop effective study techniques, like mnemonics, to help make information stick 
  • Create well-planned study schedules prior to test dates 
  • Carve assignments into manageable chunks well before the due dates 
  • Compose schedules for task completion and study with regular coach check-ins
  • Challenge unhelpful and inaccurate thoughts that interfere with confidence and motivation
  • Develop effective coping strategies to support mental health as work demands accumulate and intensify

Some students may wish to have their parents involved in the coaching process at some level. If this is the case, students 18 or older will be asked to sign our Release of Information Form allowing an exchange of information. Then, with the coach, a contract is drawn to outline more specifically what kinds of information can and cannot be shared.

We recommend once-a-week coaching sessions so students can stay on top of all responsibilities consistently as their mental health is supported. If a once-a-week schedule is not feasible, then once every two weeks is recommended. More than two weeks between sessions will make it difficult to stay on top of evolving responsibilities, determine which weekly goals were met and which ones need to be revised, and to ensure that mental health remains supported and monitored. With a one-to-two week pace, students can see change fast when it comes to accomplishing specific goals, building confidence, and supporting mental health.

We recommend that students stick with weekly or biweekly coaching sessions over the entire time they are enrolled at college or university. Expectations accumulate quickly in post-secondary school. Many will relate to academic success. Others will relate to extracurricular responsibilities like sports practices and tournament attendance, or work placements that satisfy school training requirements. Still others will relate to self-care like eating well, doing laundry, and keeping a clean residence. Summers may mean summer school or summer jobs—with either option meaning a string of continuous expectations that must be met with consistency, diligence, and confidence. Our coaches stick with college and university students from registration through to graduation. And that’s what we recommend for the greatest success. With this intensive and consistent schedule, we can nurture skills for independence, explore strategies for success, reduce the risk of drop-out and failure, and check-in to support mental health every step of the way. If corporate executives can use coaching services—ongoingMonitor mental health and other challenges that come up in College & University — such as the social challenges of being away from home and making new friends, being able to regulate drug and alcohol use, sleep and healthy eating.  support their success, then why can’t students, too?

In ADHD Coaching, we work collaboratively with students to increase their chances of reaching goals and graduating successfully—all while supporting their mental health. We work hard to tailor goals, and the strategies needed to get there, in ways that maximize the chances of success, keeping in mind personal strengths that can be leveraged, and anticipating challenges likely to emerge along the way. If well-crafted steps are followed, work gets done, goals are met, mental health is supported,  and graduation happens, then that’s success. And when a student learns through coaching how to approach new goals systematically—like succeeding at a new job after graduation—then that’s success, too!

Yes! All our coaching services are offered remotely through secure video sessions. Clients enjoy the convenience of this option, rather than traveling frequently to our Toronto office. We’ve expanded our reach, too. Our coaches now work with clients across Ontario—made possible by offering coaching services through secure video appointments. That means coaches can easily work with students at colleges and  universities across Ontario. Clients must be physically present in Ontario during video coaching sessions. Students who are out of province for Spring Break, for example, can resume coaching sessions when they return to Ontario. Advance notice regarding specific breaks, or out-of-province time periods, will be helpful—as early as possible—so coaching sessions can be booked around these absences.

Coaching at Possibilities is provided by non-medical health professionals such as psychotherapists, social workers, occupational therapists, and teachers. As such, these services are not covered by OHIP. Your private insurance plan may cover ADHD Coaching as a psychotherapy or psychoeducational service. OSAP grant and bursary funding for eligible students in Ontario may also help cover some coaching costs.

Yes! You do not need a doctor’s referral to start working with one of our coaches.

The current cost of each coaching session ranges from $200 to $280, depending on the clinician providing the service.

For more information about the Possibilities Psychotherapy and Coaching Treatment Service for College & University ADHD Coaching, please contact us at info@possibilitiesclinic.com or call 1-833-482-5558.

You can also get started right away by completing our Registration Form.  Once this form is received, our Care Coordinator will review your needs, match you to an appropriate clinician, and get back to you with booking options. 

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