To Executive Function Coaching
My coaching style is truly holistic, working with the whole mindbody to accomplish your goals. It is informed by my master's degree in contemplative psychotherapy, teaching certifications in meditation, yoga, and authentic relating, and my own struggles and successes with executive functioning. I offer both small, bite-sized tricks and skills to help your feel some movement right off the bat, while holding the big-picture view that supports you in cementing the learning until it becomes effortless. I use the four pillars of my coaching practice – relationship, play, knowing oneself, and love (see below for more on these) – as the guide posts for our work together. I also follow school psychologist Peg Dawson EdD and neuropsychologist Richard Guare's PhD well-respected techniques for improving executive function skills. We dive into your world, really get to know your unique executive functioning profile, and help you build the life you want to live.
There are 4 pillars that I repeatedly come back to as the center of my executive functioning (EF) coaching work. These pillars help guide our work together, and I find them to be vitally important in making lasting change in executive functioning skillset and capacity. A lot of EF coaching acts more like a bandaid than a core re-setting of EF skills. Yes, I offer coaching on tools, techniques, and skills which definitely help ease some difficulty around EF, however, I have found for myself and for my clients that this is not enough. We have to dive into the stuff that underlies difficulties with EF skills: perfectionism is a big one, fear of failure (often because self-worth is based on accomplishment rather than on an intrinsic sense of wholeness), cognitive fuzziness, social and mental health support, and many more. Only working with the underlying causes of EF difficulties will allow you to gain a sense of mastery and ease around EF, not just a shallow adjustment. The pillars below greatly aid our deep dive into the underlying causes of executive dysfunction.
I hold relationship to be of key importance in our work together. Relationship is the way that you are able to feel seen and validated in your struggles, to enable you to go deeper in understanding the underlying emotions and energies around executive functioning, and to celebrate together the progress you make. Without relationship, it's harder to personalize our work to your desires and needs, and it's harder to get creative around what can be difficult and emotional work. In my personal experience and in my work with clients, I've found that engaging with the underlying emotion and energies is a huge part of improving executive functioning; and this work needs the safety of a trusting relationship.
I hold play as a key pillar of our work together. When there isn't fluidity and movement in this work, things can get stagnant and start to feel hopeless. Trying things on, getting creative, becoming a playful scientist (something my chemist side gets excited about) are all things I bring to our work together. Let's try this tool. Oh? You're feeling more stressed out using it? What about using it this way? No... hmmm. What about this way? Ok how about this tool? Yes? This one works? You feel much more relief and ease? Yes! That's how I like to work. Everything is workable, and play helps us remember this. Play also helps us to deconstruct perfectionism, one of the major roadblocks in EF.
I hold knowing yourself to be a big part of our work together. Knowing what's hard for you allows you to prepare yourself, mentally, physically, and contextually, for engaging with EF skills. It allows you to build up strengths in some skills to compensate for weaknesses in others. It allows you to work directly with the energies and emotions that arise when you attempt or even imagine engaging with a certain task or executive skill. It allows you to become intimate with yourself, build love and compassion for yourself and the ways that you are (and always will be) imperfect, and continue on from there.
Lastly, what arises out of knowing yourself is loving yourself, which I hold to be one of the key pillars of our work together. Yes, we are trying to get better at executive skills, to support you in having a more easeful life. But here's the thing, loving yourself, your imperfect I-struggle-to-get-stuff-done or I'm-always-late or insert your difficulty here self, is a huge part of decreasing your suffering. And, believe it or not, loving yourself is a huge part of allowing yourself to create the space necessary to increase your executive functioning. It's what's called a dialectic in the psychotherapy world: accepting exactly where you're at and loving that self is (seemingly paradoxically) the place from which you can do the most change. It may sound paradoxical on the page, but I know through our work together you can experience this miracle for yourself first hand.
What a Session Together Might Look Like
As we begin working together...
We will focus on building a relationship where you can feel seen, validated, and safe-enough to share your inner world with me
I will offer psychoeducation (i.e. education about psychological phenomenon) around executive functioning: what it is, the neuroscience of it, how it can be impacted both positively and negatively, it's relationship with other areas of health, and more
We will get a highly detailed picture of your executive skills profile so that we know where your strengths (guess what, everyone has some executive skills strengths!) and weaknesses are
We will learn about the ways you are already excelling at some skills and how these skills are supporting you with the skills you are less strong with
We will discuss which skills feel like the ones you most want to work with first, and update this as we continue to meet
As we continue to dive in...
We'll begin playing with simple tricks, tools, and internal + external contexts that will kickstart your executive skills work (e.g. habits, apps, etc.)
We'll start strategizing some mid-level approaches to executive functioning that will manifest their utility over the medium-term (e.g. cementing habits, playing with contexts, etc.)
We'll talk about the big-picture approaches to executive functioning and executive skills: what this means, why it's important, long-term benefits (e.g. meditation, compassion, deconstructing perfectionism, etc.)
We will continuously check in about what's working, what's not working so much, and what you're wanting more of/less of in our work together
Other Unique Aspects I Bring to This Work
I have seen meditation work wonders for people's executive functioning. Many studies have shown the broad and sustained impact of mindfulness on a wide array of executive functions, including sustained attention, response inhibition, working memory, flexibility, and emotional control. That's why, as a trained meditation instructor, I offer meditation instruction to any clients that are interested. I find it to be one of the more powerful tools I have in my toolkit for supporting big-picture growth in EF skills.
Contemplative and Buddhist Psychology
I also bring my training in contemplative and buddhist psychology (a secular discipline, I work with people of all religions) to my work as an executive functioning coach. This informs the view I hold in all of my work with clients: that you have the basic wholeness, health, and vitality inside of you to manifest the life you want to live. My job isn't to help you create the person you want to be, it's to help you uncover it. Just like when the sun is covered up by clouds, the sun doesn't disappear. When your vitality gets covered up by mental illness, or trauma, or difficult life circumstances, or when society isn't high-functioning in relation to your way of being and your needs (which can also be a type of trauma), it is still there. I don't see that society, mental illness, or anything else can 'kill' your executive functioning. It just covers it up.
Social Justice Approach
I hold a social justice approach to this work, in particular anti-ableist and neurodiversity-affirming lenses. What this view helps me to see is that each person is unique in their own glorious way. There is no such thing as 'normal' executive functioning or a 'normal' mind – that's a myth created by dominant society in order to oppress neurominorities and those of use who are neurodivergent. (Read Nick Walker's essay to learn about these terms). I am not here to help you fit into the box of 'normal' in this society, in fact let's throw out the idea of 'normal' altogether. I am here to help you figure out what executive skills and support you need to thrive in the way that is uniquely you.
My approach to executive functioning coaching is informed by my key pillars: Building relationship allows us to play with EF skills and support you in knowing and loving yourself. Together, these pillars promote a space where you can work on the root of your executive dysfunction, not just the symptoms. We'll start by getting a detailed picture of your EF strengths and weakness and engage in some psychoeducation about EF. We'll focus on short, medium, and long-term EF goals so that you feel progress right off the bat while simultaneously beginning to make long-term change. My training in and commitment to meditation, Buddhist psychology, and social justice are highly effective tools I bring to this work to build mindfulness and compassion, both critical components of improving the root of executive dysfunction.
My approach to supporting people with executive dysfunction was so successful that friends began asking me for help with their own challenges. This motivated me to turn my newfound passion into a career alongside my psychotherapy practice and to develop my approach more fully. If you have any questions about my methods, or would like to schedule a consultation, please check out my FAQ or get in touch today. I am passionate about supporting people in living the life they want to life. Even if we are not the right fit, I am happy to point you in the direction of someone who might be.