What Does an Executive Function Coach Do

Do you struggle with organization, time management, and goal-oriented thinking? A professional Executive function coach can help.

Find therapists who specialize in executive function coaching on Zencare. You can book a free initial call to learn more about their training and experience. There are no regulatory bodies for this profession, so coaches vary widely in their approach and background.

Identifying Your Needs

The defining features of an executive function coach are that they help clients with organizational skills, self-management and goal setting. They also work on problem-solving and learning strategies.

Many people who seek out coaching are in the midst of life transitions such as school, job or family changes, or they are having difficulty navigating relationships and responsibilities. Others are experiencing cognitive difficulties that may manifest as anxiety, depression, or poor concentration.

Often times, the coaches that provide executive function services are psychologists or educational therapists who have completed a training course in the field, like PESI’s Developing Executive Functioning Skills and Study Strategies for Children & Adolescents. This course is designed specifically for learning specialists and coaches who want to enhance their EF practice with a structured, comprehensive approach to teaching students.

Identifying Your Goals

The best way to find an executive function coach is to look for someone with a strong interest in this field and extensive training. Unlike mental health therapists, executive functioning coaches are not required to be licensed professionals. Many opt to pursue training programs like the Connections in Mind executive function coaching certification, which offers a comprehensive curriculum and accreditation.

Once a coach has the appropriate credentials, they can begin identifying their clients’ needs and goals. The coaching process usually starts with an exploratory session where the coach and client will meet and discuss their strengths, challenges, and desired outcomes. This helps establish a trusting therapeutic alliance and build a foundation for successful work. During this phase, the coach will identify which executive function skills need improvement and how to best support their client’s needs.

Identifying Strategies

Do you have a child that often forgets to turn in assignments, has difficulty managing their time, or struggles with impulse control? If so, they may need executive function coaching. Executive function coaches are trained to work alongside children and adults to support the development of essential skills. This includes teaching students to prioritize tasks and work on overcoming the mental block of “I can’t do this.”

In addition, EF coaches teach strategies to manage stress and anxiety. These tools and strategies can be applied to any setting, whether at school or at home.

Some EF coaches offer small group instruction while others specialize in 1:1 instruction. Some also have a background as an OT, PT, or SLP. This makes them a qualified treatment provider for many insurance plans.

Developing a Plan

Executive function coaches work with clients to identify and develop a plan of action. They may use various tools and techniques to build skills around a number of different areas including planning, organization, time management, working memory and cognitive flexibility.

This can include creating a schedule for homework, school and other activities. They also help clients to develop tools and strategies for monitoring their progress and providing feedback.

They can also teach students how to break large tasks into smaller components, prioritize their work, and set appropriate timelines. These skills are critical for success in the classroom and beyond. Just like a muscle group, executive functioning skills need consistent practice and support to strengthen. This is why we often work with bright children who have EF challenges that interfere with their academic progress and milestones of independence.

Developing Goals

Once the coach has established a working relationship with the student they will begin to develop goals for their sessions. They will discuss what strategies work well and which ones do not and then work to develop a toolbox of targeted strategies.

The student and the coach will meet on a weekly basis, usually for an hour to discuss progress and establish goals. Depending on the student’s needs, they may work with the coach for up to 18 months to help them learn to independently manage their time and their school and work tasks.

Coaching is a highly individualized process. We work with students who are experiencing difficulties with planning, organizing, completing tasks, or self-regulating their behaviors. These are skills that must be learned, but are often not taught in a standard curriculum.