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How Neurodiversity Coaching helps individuals and teams to thrive

Updated: Mar 1

By Lucy Myers, Founder and CEO, Therapeutic Coaching Consultancy (TCC)


What is Neurodiversity?

'Neurodiversity' is used to describe a variation in normal human evolution which means some people process information and think differently to others. With estimates now suggesting that around 1 in 5 in the UK have some kind of neurodivergence, it means we are all, in reality,  living in a neurodiverse world. 

This brings huge opportunity for organisations and communities, if we can adapt and evolve to take full advantage of the benefits greater awareness offers.

 

Why Therapeutic Coaching Consultancy’s (TCC) approach to Neurodiversity Coaching works

The alternative thinking styles of neurodivergent people mean they see the world differently, making them a huge asset to any team that wants to innovate and improve how they do things in order to deliver excellent services, products, or ideas.  At the same time, research shows 70% of neurodivergent employees experience mental health issues, with half (50%) of neurodivergent employees experiencing burnout in the workplace compared to 38% of their neurotypical colleagues. They are also statistically at greater risk of developing addictions such as alcohol and drug dependence.  


The unique combination of challenges neurodivergent people may face requires equally nuanced solutions. The mental health expertise of TCC Associates alongside our leadership coaching experience, brings considerable advantages for organisations who want to holistically support the wellbeing and performance of employees.

 

TCC’s approach combines the solutions-focused energy of executive coaching with the healing empowerment of counselling and psychotherapy, drawing on our core values of warmth, curiosity, pragmatism, and kindness. As experienced clinical psychotherapists as well as executive coaches, we’re trained to work ethically and safely across the entire mental health spectrum, as well as facilitating positive goal-achievement and personal growth.  At TCC we strongly support Deloitte's suggestion that:

 

 “Organizations that make an extra effort to recruit, retain, and nurture neurodivergent workers can gain a competitive edge from increased diversity in skills, ways of thinking, and approaches to problem-solving.”

 

We work with a) neurodivergent employees to facilitate a greater understanding of their challenges and develop new strategies to enable them to thrive, and b) with neurotypical leaders, managers and teams to empower them with the confidence to effectively support their colleagues by creating psychologically safe, collaborative, and productive working environments.

How does Neurodiversity Coaching help individuals and teams?

At TCC we do not believe that people with neurodiversity need to be “cured” or “fixed”. What we do know is that neurodivergent employees - and their neurotypical colleagues - greatly benefit from understanding how neurodiverse brains work differently, and how this can impact people’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours.


This awareness helps them to identify and celebrate their unique strengths, while developing strategies and techniques to feel more confident about tackling the parts of their lives that are more difficult. Gaining the empathy and support of managers and colleagues means the changes occur at a deeper and more systemic level, making the positive benefits more sustainable, and more embedded into organisational culture.

 

We adapt our approach to work most effectively with each neurodiverse condition, including Autism, or Autism Spectrum Conditions, ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADD, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Stammering, and Tourette’s syndrome.

 

To illustrate how it works in practice, here's how TCC associates commonly approach working with one form of neurodiversity – ADHD/ADD - with individuals and teams.

 

ADHD/ADD Coaching – for individuals

The specialist combination of skills and experience of TCC associates facilitates psychological insight into the emotional impact of ADHD, whilst also providing a structured and solutions-focused process to gain clarity on what a person wants to change, and create actionable plans for achieving this.


While we work holistically with each unique individual, we know there are some common traits to ADHD, such as procrastination and an inability to focus, or problems with memory , time keeping and organisation. People ADHD can also be more sensitive to judgement, rejection and criticism, which is not surprising when you consider a child with ADHD will have had 20,000 more pieces of negative feedback than a neurotypical child by the age of 7 years old*. Yet we also know that ADHD brings many strengths, including creativity, hyperfocus, 'bigger picture' thinking, strong social skills, problem solving, and high energy and enthusiasm. It's really important to learn to celebrate and lean into these. We're skilled in creating a therapeutic coaching relationship that provides the optimal balance of non-judgemental empathy with compassionate challenge and a sense of accountability, to act as helpful ‘body doubling’. These conditions are vital to create long-term psychological and behavioural change for those with ADHD.

 

Our typical TCC Neurodiversity Coaching programme may include:

 

  • As ‘emotional regulation’ difficulties can often exacerbate challenges adults with ADHD face, TCC’s approach draws on person-centred counselling skills to build a trusting, empathic, psychological safe relationship that research shows is essential to allowing the process of change and development to occur. **(Rogers, 1961)

  • Our clinical neuroscientific understanding of neurodivergence helps peoples understand the way their ADHD brain works in comparison to a neurotypical brain (e.g. the differences in dopamine release), so they can work with this to reach their full potential. 



  • Recognising that ADHD is closely linked to anxiety and burnout, we incorporate techniques to calm the mind and body, including mindfulness and polyvagal theory tools, and work closely to enhance a person’s ‘wheel of wellbeing’, which is the foundation of personal thriving and high performance at work.

  • To tackle the ‘executive functioning’ challenges around organisation, time management, planning and prioritisation,  we will use a range of practical executive coaching tools (e.g Urgent-Important matrix/Circles of Control) to create new strategies and approaches, and action plans to embed new habits.


  • Using executive coaching tools including Strengthscope, Myers-Briggs and  Thomas Behaviour, we empower our clients to recognise their strengths**, develop the self-awareness and motivation people need to focus on stretching goals for life, and the self-belief that is possible to achieve them.


  • We draw on CBT techniques to enhance insight into how our thoughts and emotions are linked to the decisions we make and how we behave, which empowers people to create strategies to manage symptoms associated with ADHD.  We will work at emotional depth to identify the source of ‘self-limiting beliefs’ that may force someone back into old ADHD-related habits, and ensure we’re replaced this with new narratives about our value and worth in the workplace (and beyond).


  • For problems within relationships commonly seen in ADHD such as ‘people pleasing’, anger, or an unhealthy avoiding of perceived conflict, we may draw psychodynamic therapy’s Attachment Theory to understand our patterns of behaviour and develop new and healthier ways of relating to other, or models to develop and practice boundary setting.

 

ADHD and Neurodiversity training  – for groups and leaders

The most progressive and innovative organisations are recognising that understanding and embracing neurodiversity delivers better business performance, with findings including:


  1. Companies with inclusive cultures were six times more likely to be innovative and agile (Deloitte, 2018)

  2. Neurodiverse teams are 30% more productive than the others (Hewlett Packard Enterprise program)

  3. Autistic professionals made fewer errors and were 90% to 140% more productive than neurotypical employees (JPMorgan Chase Autism at Work initiative)

 

TCC’s group training develops awareness, understanding and appreciation of colleagues, and builds the confidence of managers and leaders who may fear ‘getting it wrong’.  We help neurotypical leaders and colleagues learn:


  1. How to respond sensitively and effectively to a colleague revealing a diagnosis of neurodivergence

  2. How to design and manage team and group project work in a manner that is inclusive to neurodivergent team members and optimises productivity and performance. 

  3. The unique strengths neurodivergent colleagues can bring to the workplace and the reality of the difficulties that colleagues are (often silently) facing, and how this negatively impacts their ability to perform (e.g. ‘masking’, overworking and burnout, people pleasing, avoidance of conflict)

  4. How to apply this understanding within teams to help both neurodivergent and neurotypical thrive, including examples of simple but highly impactful changes leaders and colleagues can consider making

  5. Demystify the concept of ‘reasonable adjustments’ - e.g. a) giving clear, concise, unambiguous instructions, including any ‘unwritten rules’ of the workplace; b) recording meetings/turning on subtitles to mitigate concerns about loss of focus and missing important information, which can unnecessarily increase stress levels; c) sharing agendas in advance even for private meetings to avoid rumination about potential performance issues


We draw on the expertise of TCC associates with lived experience of neurodiversity

TCC Senior Associate Joanne Wright, a highly experienced therapeutic coach received a diagnosis of dyslexia in adulthood following a successful senior leadership career in Organisational Development and Training. Here's how she experienced her diagnosis, and how this knowledge empowers her personally and professionally today.

“I have learnt that dyslexia is extremely individual, and that’s why having person-centred therapeutic support like the one TCC offers is invaluable in helping us understand the gifts a diagnosis can give us. We can’t change the fact we have it, but we can look positively about the benefits and establish strategies to overcome what’s difficult. 


I was assessed for Dyslexia at the age of 47 mid way through my counselling degree. A fellow student commented on how slow my reading was and suggested I might want to get tested. Still to this day I class it as one of the most fascinating pieces of development I have ever undertaken. My son was diagnosed with Dyslexia at the age of 11 and our strengths and weaknesses are completely different, so it never crossed my mind I might have it.  At school I wouldn't have met the typical profile for a child with dyslexia. I never liked school and I had to work extremely hard, but I sat in the top sets for everything and was considered an excellent pupil. Looking back, I don't think my grades reflected my ability or contribution but when I moved to the arena of work things changed.


My dyslexia assessment showed I excelled in problem solving skills and this is what was probably masking my dyslexia. The areas I struggle with are short term visual recall, hence why I am a very slow reader. Would I change anything? Certainly not, I am proud to be in the top 3% of the country for problem solving skills and hold my dyslexia badge with pride as I wouldn't have that skill without it.”

Working with TCC's Associate team gives you access to expertise from multiple perspectives. If you, a colleague, or one of your team receive a diagnosis of neurodivergence in adulthood, we can support you to understand the impact, and maximise the benefits this insight gives you. Many people feel a sense of relief that comes with finally understanding why things that others seem to find so easy have always been a struggle.  But this relief can be sometimes accompanied by sadness, as the person grieves for the childhood and early adulthood that could have been so different, had the right support and understanding been available. TCC’s therapeutic coaches are trained to provide support throughout the diagnostic process, to enable people to develop a new sense of self-compassion for their struggles, and rebuild their self-esteem and self-confidence for the future.


What is the Access to Work scheme and how can it help?

Many of our clients have benefitted from the Government’s incredibly helpful 'Access to Work' scheme which supports people with neurodiversity (and any other disabilities, including mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression) who need help to access and thrive at work. 


TCC’s therapeutic coaching is considerable an ideal approach for receiving this funding as it provides support in both areas.  In our experience, funding has supported up to 24 therapeutic coaching sessions, run across the course of a 6-9 month period, enabling the facilitation of long term, sustainable change to be achieved. To be eligible, you must be over 16, live and work in the UK, and be paid to work  in full or part time employment or be self-employed (or about to return to employment within the next 12 weeks).  TCC’s clients have ranged from those with a suspected diagnosis and on the waiting list for an assessment through to post diagnosis.  With our clinical backgrounds, we have the advantage of being able to understand any prescribed medication and work with people through the titration process as required.  


Conclusion

If you take one thing away from this article, at TCC we want you to know how rewarding, inspiring, and empowering it can be for neurodivergent and neurotypical colleagues alike to feel confident about their understanding of this emerging realm of diversity and inclusion. The enhanced empathy and openness achieved through neurodiversity coaching and training has far reaching positive consequences for creating healthier, more psychologically safe, and more fulfilling working environments, with personal and professional growth opportunities for all involved.


As Silvio Bessa, SAP’s Senior Vice President said, thinking deeply about leveraging the talents of all employees through greater sensitivity to individual needs “forces you to get to know the person better, so you know how to manage them. It’s made me a better manager, without a doubt.” At TCC we feel privileged to be part of this process. Get in touch if you’d like to explore how we could make a difference to you, your teams, or how your organisation approaches its ambitions for achieving high performance, mental health and wellbeing.  


* Professor Nancy Doyle, Centre for Neurodiversity Research at Work 2023

** Rogers, CR. (1961) On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.



 

About Therapeutic Coaching Consultancy (TCC)

Therapeutic Coaching Consultancy was created in response to a recognised need for workplace support that enhances individual mental health and resilience whilst also facilitating the achievement of challenging personal and professional goals.

The TCC model of therapeutic coaching combines the solutions-focused energy and structure of executive coaching with the psychological insight and emotional depth of psychotherapy, empowering individuals and teams to flourish and thrive.

TCC's team of associates are highly experienced and accredited dual-practitioners of both psychotherapy and executive coaching, bolstered by corporate backgrounds of senior leadership roles, HR and organisational development experience, and skills in designing and delivering corporate personal development training and workshops.

We offer a unique combination of evidence-based services that support organisations to achieve both high performance and mental wellbeing for individuals, teams, and groups.

About Lucy Myers, Founder and CEO, Therapeutic Coaching Consultancy (TCC)

 


Lucy Myers is an Integrative Psychotherapist (MA) Executive Coach (PG Cert/ILM Level 7), an Accredited Senior Practitioner with the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), a Registered member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), and Chair of the BACP Coaching Division Executive Committee. 

Prior to retraining, Lucy enjoyed a media career spanning two decades in a range of senior leadership roles in UK based on global companies. A certified practitioner in Systemic Team Coaching, Coaching Supervisor for other professionals, and experienced Leadership Trainer, she now specialises in working with individuals and teams across a broad spectrum of workplace challenges and industry sectors.

Lucy is passionate about sharing her own experience of how enhancing self-awareness and self-compassion creates more psychologically safe, diverse, and inclusive workplaces, leading to happier, healthier, and ultimately higher performing individuals and teams.

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