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What does a typical Executive Function coaching session look like?

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Are you a parent struggling to understand how Executive Function coaching can help your child with ADHD?

Wondering what goes on in a typical coaching session and how it can lead to real, actionable results?

This article breaks down the essential stages of an Executive Function coaching session, offering insight into a process tailored to enhance goal-setting, collaboration, and accountability.

Whether you're considering coaching for the first time or looking to understand it better, this guide is for you.

At EF Specialists, we use the PEMDAS coaching method to structure our sessions.

PEMDAS stands for the following:

Prioritizing the Secure Connection (5 minutes):

Establishing trust and rapport is the first step. Engaging the client with questions such as: "Is there anything you want to discuss before we identify any key assignments or tasks?" ensures that they feel comfortable and ready to work on their goals.

Establish SMART Goals (5 minutes):

This stage is about clarity and direction. Asking questions like “What would be different in your life for you to feel this meeting was worth your time?” helps in pinpointing what needs to be addressed and setting actionable, realistic goals.

Make Everyone Aware of the Goals (10 minutes):

Ensuring everyone is clear about the goals involves discussion and collaboration. Whether it's unclear assignments or writing an email, this stage is about making sure everyone understands the path forward.

Divide Goals into Chunks (5 minutes):

Breaking down tasks into manageable parts facilitates progress. Questions like "How could we break down this task into smaller parts?" guide the client in seeing how a big task can be tackled step by step.

Accountability (15 minutes):

Accountability is key for progress. By focusing on specific achievements and ways to prove completion, this stage encourages responsibility and follow-through.

Show Them You’re Proud (2.5 minutes):

Reflection on the session's successes fosters a sense of accomplishment. Asking “What do you feel most proud about from this meeting?” reinforces positive feelings and motivation.

Ending the Session (2.5 minutes):

Wrapping up the session with a clear plan for the next meeting and feedback ensures continuity and alignment.

Questions like “Can we confirm our next meeting on…” and “Was this helpful?” close the session on a positive note.

How long are the sessions?

At EFS, sessions are up to 45 minutes, with 15 minutes of follow up that may include:

  • 15-minutes of meeting preparation

  • Weekly parent consult or progress updates to keep you informed on your student's progress via phone, email or text (according to your preference)


An effective Executive Function coaching session is a multifaceted process, carefully structured to facilitate clear communication, goal-setting, collaboration, and accountability.

From prioritizing a secure connection with the client to dividing tasks into manageable chunks and emphasizing accountability, each stage is designed to support and empower the client.

By ending the session with reflection and planning for the next meeting, the coach creates a continuous cycle of growth and development.

Whether working with individuals managing ADHD or other executive function challenges, this approach ensures a meaningful and productive partnership that can lead to transformative change.

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About the author

Sean G. McCormick is the founder of Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.

He also founded the Executive Function Coaching Academy which trains special education teachers, school psychologists and other professionals to support students with AD/HD and executive function challenges.

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About 👋

EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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