What Does an Executive Functioning Coach Do?
Put simply, an executive functioning coach helps students and adults find more organization, structure, and motivation in their daily tasks and goals. How do we do that exactly? Well, we focused on exploring which executive functions skills are established and which ones need more work. We provide executive function skills training on every skill but emphasize the ones that are needed more immediately for our student’s success. This is because much of executive functions coaching utilizes positive feedback. We want our students to experience that they can become more independent and successful. That they aren’t just labeled by their executive function disorder or by the general public as lazy and unmotivated.
Lastly, we emphasize patience and time as the majority of our students have had years to build up bad habits to cope with their lack of executive functions. Let’s see what an executive functioning coach does in a typical session.
A Typical Session of An Executive Functioning Coach
A typical session with an executive functioning coach can either be a strategy session or a check-in session. Our strategy sessions emphasize on using specific tools such as to-do lists and chunking goals and assignments with our students. An executive functioning strategies session usually takes place on a weekend or towards the beginning of the week. This is a good time as it is usually when our students have new assignments or tasks come onto their calendar. We take this time to introduce and practice executive functions skills with our students such as creating a to-do list of all upcoming assignments and visualizing your time blocks onto a calendar. At times when there are bigger assignments, we also practice executive function strategies like chunking and productive breaks. For example, every project usually has smaller, more manageable chunks. An executive functioning coach will help their students break these bigger assignments into achievable chunks so that they are less intimidating for their students. Gauging what is achievable and helping students establish measurable checkpoints where they can take a productive break is one of the critical roles of an executive functioning coach. Doing this well will prevent students from shutting down or having a panic attack. The goal of these sessions would be to eventually have students establish their executive functions to a degree that they are leading the discussion on how to have a successful week. Lastly, an executive functioning coach will have scheduled check-in sessions throughout the week to measure progress, provide feedback, and guide adjustments to the student’s weekly plans.
An Executive Functioning Coach is a Part of a Greater Support Network
Every individual has their own support system and an executive functioning coach is just a part of the greater whole. Yes, in many cases, the executive functioning coach will coordinate between the parents, school, and therapist (if there is one), but the goal is always to facilitate communication until the student is equipped with the executive functions to do so themselves. Although this goal may take time, the purpose of any EF coach is to guide their students to become more independent, structured, and successful. Many of the times, we find ourselves helping the family discover new executive functions skills in expressing their emotions, communicating, and enforcing reasonable expectations. This is why at EFC, we always send a weekly update to a student’s support network providing an update on how scaffolding can be done at home and at school. An executive functioning coach is an integral part of any student’s support network.