Executive Function Skills Coaching for Adults
How can coaching help support executive function skills development?
Because of the malleable nature of the brain’s neural-pathways, techniques to overcome executive function challenges can be learnt; one of the most effective methods of strengthening executive function skills is with the support of an executive function coach. Our executive function coaching model was developed by educational psychologists in the US and is based on three assumptions:
- Most people have an array of executive function skills strengths and weaknesses.
- With the help of a skilled professional, identifying these strengths and weaknesses can form the basis of a personalised strategy plan to overcome weaknesses.
- By repeatedly practising a new skill with the support of a executive function coach anyone can develop and hone that skill so that it becomes second nature.
How useful can coaching be for adults?
Research has shown that by the time we are 25 years old the part of our brains which houses the executive functions is fully mature. However, this does not mean that adults cannot improve their executive function skills, to the contrary, research has shown that adults who come to the coaching process with a desire to make a positive change in their lives can develop and hone these skills, transforming their home and work lives for the benefit of themselves and those closest to them. Support and guidance from a coach is invaluable in supporting adults to embed and maintain new skills.
An Overview of the Coaching Process
What happens first?
The executive function coaching programme begins by collecting information about your executive function skills profile and the activities you are finding challenging.
Often adults come to us because they struggle with prioritising and they are overloaded with commitments, so we often begin looking deeply into your values and how your commitments are reflected in these values. This helps you to prioritise your commitments so that life feels more manageable. This will also give you the space to develop and practice your new skills. Reducing the pressure is crucial because research has shown that our executive function skills are weaker when we are stressed, tired, or hungry.
We will then spend some sessions working on your coaching plan. We do this using a technique called mental contrasting, where we identify activities that you find challenging, and then you describe, objectively, your current performance and what is getting in your way. We then help you to set realistic SMART goals to work towards and to formulate a plan to overcome the barriers that are getting in your way.
What does the coaching programme look like?
After an initial meeting of between 1-2 hours, when we set some initial goals, the coaching programme starts. The programme is bespoke so depending on your needs, the sessions are anywhere from between 20 minutes to an hour once or twice a week or every fortnight depending on your schedule and your bespoke goals.
The sessions will be a mixture of online and face to face meetings depending on your goals and your location. In these sessions you will review your progress against your goals and discuss how the strategies you are using are working for you. Depending on progress you might work with your coach to tweak the strategies to make them more effective for you, before committing to a plan for the next week. Research shows that it takes at least 6 weeks of effort before a new habit becomes embedded so regular meetings are a really important part of process. Sometimes you may need more support, if you are finding a new strategy difficult to master and then we might recommend some more regular check-ins of 15- 20 minutes to assess how you are getting on and keep you motivated.