Brilliantly Diverse aims to support you in living your best life, in accordance with your values and striving for goals that are important to you. We do this mainly by coaching, but also by offering education and developing resources We are currently researching ways to offer some (neurodiverse friendly) services in the future as well.
How do we coach?
In our coaching, we use evidence-based methods such as motivational interviewing, solution-focused coaching, and ACT, as well as Strengths-based coaching. But we also use more creative methods, that have proved their worth in our practice. We are constantly on the lookout for new and scientifically valid information on better ways to educate, support, and coach our clients. Because we value quality coaching we are certified in ADHD coaching and currently pursuing an AC credential from the International Federation for Coaching and continuously working with the Neurodiversity Foundation to make our offers accessible to a wide range of people.
Who do we coach?
While we welcome ALL coaching clients, we are especially trained to support people who are just a bit different. You could be creative, messy, highly sensitive, loud, excitable, or maybe you are a dreamy, quiet, deep thinker that needs their space, or a mix of both. If you feel like you are not quite fitting in and your differences seem to be holding you back from getting the life you want: you are in the right place.
We are specialized in coaching ADHD-ers, but we’ve also supported Autistics, Dyslexics, HSP-ers, and chaotic creatives, as well as many people self-identifying as neurodivergent in some way, shape, or form. You never need a diagnosis to work with us!
Read on to find out more about coaching…
Or skip ahead to:
- What is a Strengths-based approach?
- What is ADHD?
- Why is coaching so effective with ADHD and other forms of neurodiversity?
What is coaching?
Coaching is a process where the clients sets goals or intentions and then figures out how to best achieve these while being supported by the coach.
The coach helps to clarify the goals and intentions, to uncover the motivations and needs that lie behind the wish to strive for these. And they can help to construct an ever-evolving plan to succeed at pursuing them. They also help a client to reflect on prior experiences -as well as experiences during the process of coaching- to accelerate learning from experience. They tend to encourage the client to experiment with new ways of approaching a problem, trying out new strategies, and learning by doing..
Coaching is incredibly powerful because it is so tailor-made to your needs, your current situation, and your experience in the world. Think of it like a futuristic bespoke cyborg suit that supports you and supplies you with the tools and tactics you need- as you step out to conquer the world (or just the mess in your living room, perhaps… ).
What is a Strengths-based approach?
“…emphasizing the positive while not denying the challenges and difficulties. ”
— DR HALLOWELL
In a strengths-based approach, we believe in the credo” what you pay attention to grows”. This is not to say we are not honest and open about problems. We just examine the already available resources -in and around you- that might help us solve them, with high expectations of success. A strengths-based approach is very important for several reasons:
- because most of us take notice of negative feedback about 5 times better than of positive feedback. Just a cause of simple evolution: paying attention to negative experiences taught us how to survive. But in order to thrive, we need to look at what works.
- because neurodivergent people get much higher rates of negative feedback than neurotypical ones, because they are constantly challenging the norm, or defying expectations.
These negative experiences CAN lead to depression, anxiety, burn-out, and a general lack of motivation and hope. But focussing on the positive and the upsides of who we are and how we are different in powerful ways, can really shift things into an amazing upward spiral.
“ If your child feels optimistic about who s/he is and about what life has to offer, s/he will do far better than if s/he does not. ”
— DR HALLOWELL
….and the same goes for any adult! This is great news. By focussing on our strengths we have the capacity to turn our lives around and stay motivated while we do it. Research shows that people who really learn to tap into their strengths are more likely to…
- be engaged in their jobs .
- to strongly agree that they have the chance to do what they do best every day.
- to report having ample energy, feeling well-rested, being happy, smiling or laughing a lot, learning something interesting, and being treated with respect.
- And they’re less likely to report experiencing worry, stress, anger, sadness or physical pain.
(source for all of the above: Gallup.com)
“ When we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, extraordinary room for growth exists. So, a revision to the ‘You-can-be-anything-you-want-to-be’ maxim might be more accurate: You cannot be anything you want to be — but you can be a lot more of who you already are. ”
— TOM RATH
And because neurodivergent people tend to have more convention-challenging strengths, they might just need some extra support in beginning to deploy their strengths and dealing with the wonder and questions that come with showing off their true colors!
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a set of neurological brain differences commonly identified as a disorder (in DSM-V) because they have some significant downsides when one is expected to function in today’s society.
The brain differences may lead to a diagnosis for a person IF the difficulties they cause in everyday functioning are severe enough to lead to a significantly reduced quality of life, and therefore can be considered a serious problem.
People with ADHD tend to have an interest-based nervous system because their brain has different structures and processes key neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine differently.
We are still learning a lot every day about the exact ways these differences appear in the brain and how they relate to the way ADHD presents to the outside world.
Some key ways these differences can present are:
- Short attention span, especially for non-preferred tasks
- Hyperactivity, which may be physical, verbal, and/or emotional
- Impulsivity, which may manifest as recklessness
- Fidgeting or restlessness
- Disorganization and difficulty prioritizing tasks
- Poor time management and time blindness
- Frequent mood swings and emotional dysregulation
- Forgetfulness and poor working memory
- Trouble multitasking and executive dysfunction
- Inability to control anger or frustration
- Trouble completing tasks and frequent procrastination
- Difficulty awaiting turn
Self-organising and Hyperfocus
Some of the key features of ADHD are difficulties with self-organizing and self-regulating (both emotion and attention), ESPECIALLY when related to longer-term goals and values. This is why Executive Functioning is such an important field of study for anyone interested in ADHD.
Hyperfocus is commonly a reason for ADHD not to be recognized by teachers or parents early on, or passed up as a possibility, because ” they CAN focus if they WANT to”. But this is just the flip side of the distractibility: both are at the core an inability to regulate attention. People in hyperfocus tend to exhaust themselves without noticing they need a break, often with outbursts of emotion, or severe exhaustion as a result.
ADHD in girls and women
ADHD is also less recognized in girls or female presenting persons* because (in VERY general terms) they tend to be – on average -less physically hyperactive and disruptive and more emotionally dysregulated (leading to incomplete or even false diagnoses with anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder). As well as receiving a lot more social pressure to mask and suppress hyperactive or other disruptive behaviours. (Disclaimer: *I’m well aware that I am trying to condense a complex matter into a few sentences here, so taking a few short cuts that will not cover all experiences. I’ll write more about this on the blog when I find the time to give it the attention it deserves. )
They are also more likely to start presenting severe symptoms in puberty when the entire thing is chalked up to this famous equation:
hormones + bad parenting = brat
While they often are diagnosed with depression or anxiety before ever even learning about ADHD, some women find their anxious and depressive moods subside A LOT when they learn about ADHD and how to manage it. Women often seek diagnoses or treatment, when they become pregnant, become overwhelmed as parents, or go into menopause. Hormonal and lifestyle changes can cause serious upsets to their ability to manage their (undiagnosed) ADHD well. They have often run themselves ragged trying to be all things to all people, while struggling with their own task management and emotions.
ADHD is best treated with a multi-modal approach that can (but does not have to) include many of the following:
- accommodations and support
You do not need a formal diagnosis to benefit from coaching, therapy, or psychoeducation if you suspect you have ADHD. A coach can work with you on improving your life whether or not you have a diagnosis.
A diagnosis CAN be vital to get access to medication, which only psychiatrists can prescribe in most countries. Or you may want to ask for accommodations in your place of work or study that are normally not available to everyone. Finally, you might want to pursue a diagnosis just to get some clarity for yourself. Some people have a hard time forgiving themselves for the less convenient ADHD traits without an official doctor’s verdict.
What is neurodiversity?
The neurodiversity movement advocates for seeing brain differences as a natural outcome of the evolutionary advantages of having diversity in a given population.
Rather than pathologizing these differences as disorders, they aim to look at it as a wide range of human beings, who may need to find a good niche to survive in. Somewhere that they fit in well, and can use their natural talents for the benefit of their community and surroundings.
Society can work to create more neurodivergent-friendly spaces to benefit greatly from the innovation, forward-thinking, and divergent solutions that tend to flow from these spaces. And the neurodivergent individuals will also thrive and benefit greatly in turn, as Ryan and Deci have shown that some of the most fundamental human needs include a sense of competency, of having good relationships, and of experiencing agency.
If we as a society become less obsessed with policing “the norm”, and instead focus on embracing difference, we all benefit!
This asks adaptation from the ” neurotypical” individuals who function largely within that broad societal norm, in order to be more accepting and accomodating. But it also asks something of the neurodivergent individuals who have to be willing to stand up, stand out and be proud. And to take the time to explain their differing insights and needs, with patience, to the larger community.
The term neurodiversity refers to variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions. It was coined in 1998 by Australian sociologist Judy Singer, who helped popularize the concept along with American journalist Harvey Blume. It emerged as a challenge to prevailing views that certain neurodevelopmental disorders are inherently pathological and instead adopts the social model of disability, in which societal barriers are the main contributing factor that disables people.source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurodiversity
Embracing neurodiversity can offer amazing gains, but it takes an investment in kindness, open communication, effort invested in bridging the divides, and general acceptance of differences from us ALL, to make it work.
Why is coaching so effective with ADHD and other forms of neurodivergence?
Coaching holds the client as creative, resourceful and whole. It puts the client’s experience at the center of the process.
A coach who follows these tenets is already more respectful of the various experiences a person with a different brain structure to theirs may have in life. They are less biased by their own experiences and what worked for them. They know the world may look different for them than it does for their client, and they respect this.
A coach trained in the neurodiversity angle has even more insights into how these experiences might be different and why. And they have learned a lot of potentially useful strategies to tackle the challenges inherent in various types of neurodivergence. Challenges that may be severely aggravated when they clash with the demands of a neurotypical environment that is generally less well educated about the needs of neurodivergent people.
All this allows them to adapt the coaching process even better to the specific needs a client may have, based on their differences. And to listen to their story looking out for strengths to build up, solutions and strategies to strengthen and damaging coping strategies and (old) beliefs to dismantle…
Some example of the changes we’ve seen:
- Clients can greatly enhance their life satisfaction and self-confidence. By learning to work WITH their unique brains rather than against them.
- Clients are better able to tap into internal motivation, make more realistic plans. To problem solve and pivot when they do get stuck.
- Clients can work through ways to ‘unmask’ where needed, so the contant strain of compensating for their natural tendencies to better fit into neurotypical expectations is less severe.
- They can also learn to self-advocate and ask for accommodations that help them function better, with or without disclosing where these needs stem from.
- They can learn to look at what is hard or easy for them, through the lens of diversity as a key contribution to a stable team or community that is flexible enough to tackle the challenges of the future together…