Executive functioning coaching

What is Executive Functioning Coaching?

What Is Executive Functioning Coaching? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

What Is Executive Functioning Coaching

Also known as cognitive control, executive functioning (EF) refers to the mental behaviors responsible for initiating tasks, getting things done, and achieving goals. These involve cognitive inhibition, cognitive flexibility, working memory, inhibitory control, and attention control. People who struggle with these functions are often misjudged as lazy, when in reality, they simply lack the tools and strategies to deal with the problem. The solution lies in executive functioning coaching.

Executive functioning coaching teaches students how to organize, plan, prioritize, manage time, maintain focus, self-assess, and study efficiently. These self-management skills are increasingly important in a complex world with so many distractions and competing priorities. 

Executive functioning coaching is designed to encourage and support people in their daily challenges and responsibilities at home, at school, and at work.. It’s a comprehensive method that helps an individual perform better and become more successful, regardless of their background or age.


What are the executive functions and how do they develop?


Executive functioning can be summarized as follows:

  • Cognitive inhibition: This is the ability to pick selective information and disregard irrelevant details. 
  • Cognitive flexibility: Thinking of multiple things simultaneously. It’s also the ability to perform one task and move on to another without difficulty.
  • Working memory: The ability to recall facts while completing and applying it to a certain task.
  • Inhibitory control: The ability to resist impulses for the sake of better behavior. 
  • Attentional control: To focus on something specific in a given environment or situation. 


The growth of all the above functions is linked to the delayed maturity of the prefrontal cortex.  And although a person is not born with executive functioning, these skills develop at different stages of life.

Childhood (Toddler years)

Let us consider the timeframe of seven months to five years. In the beginning, the first two functions that begin to develop are working memory and inhibitory control. So during the era of pre-school, thinking capabilities related to planning and achieving goals begin to develop. However, these abilities are raw and inflexible, making children prone to mistakes.


The preadolescence timeframe is best understood up to the ages of 12. Flexibility begins to improve, which results in advanced planning and organization skills, and better verbal memory.


Inhibitory control begins to develop in childhood and preadolescence, but it is during the teen years that one is able to utilize this function more effectively.. Likewise, attention and memory begin to improve even more. The brain becomes more integrated, linking all the functions to one another for higher attentiveness.


During adulthood, from ages 20 to 29, all executive functions begin to develop properly. This is the peak time frame, however, from the age of 30 onwards, there is a drop in spatial abilities and memory. The function that defects the most late is flexibility, which is around the age of 80.


What is executive functioning coaching? 1


How Executive Functioning Coaching Helps


Executive functioning coaching targets various areas to help improve attentiveness, flexibility, and memory. Below are some results of this method, which are similar to cognitive behavioral therapy.

  • Becoming socially active: Helps improve the quality of relationships and communication. 
  • Stress management: Lower stress levels allow the individual to have a better lifestyle and focus on tasks.
  • Enhanced memory: Increased attentiveness and better retrieval from short-term memory.
  • Time management: With improved focus, time is less wasted, resulting in breaking procrastination habits.
  • Quick and creative problem solving: Looking at a problem from multiple perspectives can boost creativity.


Who Benefits from Executive Functioning Coaching?


Anybody could benefit from executive functioning coaching. From preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school students to college students and adults. It’s especially beneficial for individuals with the following symptoms, who might be struggling with their executive functions.

  • Having difficulty doing and finishing homework
  • Low self-esteem issues or lack of self-confidence
  • Procrastinating on tasks, often starting them at the very last minute
  • Low grades due to lack of concentration
  • Feelings of hopelessness and frustration


These signs are typically present in individuals who are struggling with executive functions, regardless of their age. In adults or professionals, the above signs are often spotted in their lifestyle, daily routines, and work habits.


What is executive functioning coaching?


How to Find an Executive Functioning Coach


  • Prioritize official credentials over online certifications. Many online classes can be good but they can never replace professional training. 
  • Go through testimonials. If there are ratings, do they look genuine? You could also go through feedback to know what to expect from the coach in concern.
  • Finding an independent coach could get difficult. It’s best to consult a company that has dedicated professionals for executive functioning coaching. You can verify their claims and even hold them accountable in case of a setback.
  • In the case of a company, staff members would have defined and specific job roles. You could benefit from their working hierarchy. The probability of getting one-on-one undivided time and attention would be higher as work would be divided equally.
  • A well-trained executive functioning coach would know the difference between regular education and special learning. Make notes of the teaching and tutoring methods of the particular professional – are they open about it? A proper coach would now follow evidence-based executive functioning coaching.
  • For a more comfortable experience, look for at-home coaching. In the case of hiring an individual, ask them to show their master’s or doctorate qualification. It’s necessary to assure a highly educated coach.
  • Find a coach that can match the individual’s pace and offers personalized learning. Also, the process is more likely to become successful if there are blended methods, for instance, both offline and online.


What Skills Does Executive Functioning Coaching Develop?


Working with the right executive functioning coach means you get to learn the following abilities:

  • Making the individual develop curiosity.
  • Forming healthy and regular study habits.
  • Developing a thorough approach to learning.
  • Looking at topics and daily life problems from multiple perspectives.
  • Coming up with quick solutions.


The above qualities of properly working executive functions are backed by this study from Harvard.



What are the executive functions and how do they develop?
Study of the prefrontal cortex with respect to executive functions
Tips for finding an executive coach
Abilities learnt from executive functioning coaching



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What Is Executive Functioning Coaching?




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Craig Selinger

Owner at Themba Tutors
Craig Selinger, CEO of Themba Tutors (serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut), is a NY State licensed speech-language pathologist, executive functioning coach, and learning specialist with over 18 years of experience working professionally with over a thousand families. His expertise includes language-based learning issues, e.g. reading, writing, speaking, and listening, executive functioning, ADHD/ADD, and learning disabilities. Check out his interviews with top-notch professionals in the field on Spotify.
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