Understanding SDAM in Coaching: A Guide for Life Coaches

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Aphantasia Academy founder Sassy Smith writing about severely deficient autobiographical memory and what life coaches can do to support clients who have it


As a life coach, understanding the unique needs and experiences of your clients is crucial for effective coaching. One condition that may affect some clients is Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory (SDAM). In this blog post, we will explore what SDAM is, its impact on coaching, and why it's important for coaches to be aware of this condition.

What is Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory (SDAM)?

SDAM is a type of memory impairment where individuals have difficulty recalling personal events from their past. Unlike typical memory functioning, people with SDAM lack vivid, sensory-rich details associated with autobiographical memories. While they may remember the facts of an event, they cannot relive the experience in their minds. SDAM is different from amnesia or general memory loss, as individuals with SDAM have normal cognitive functioning in other memory domains.

The exact causes of SDAM are not fully understood, but researchers believe it may be related to differences in the way the brain processes and stores information.

Understanding the Impact of SDAM in Coaching

Clients with SDAM may face challenges in connecting with their past experiences and emotions, which can impact their ability to set and achieve goals. They may be unable to recall past events which have led to actions and behaviours in the present.  This may include not being able to identify patterns which create barriers to achieving their goals. Coaches need to recognise this and adapt their coaching strategies accordingly to provide effective support.

Adapting Coaching Strategies for Clients with SDAM

To assist clients with SDAM, coaches can adapt their coaching style and strategies. This may include incorporating more visual aids or written exercises to help clients recall past events. Encouraging clients to focus on their present experiences and future goals rather than dwelling on their past can also be beneficial.

Clients with SDAM may experience emotional challenges, such as sadness or frustration due to their inability to recall important life events. Coaches can provide support by validating their emotions and helping them develop coping strategies to deal with these feelings.

Professional Development for Coaches

Understanding SDAM and other neurodivergent conditions can contribute to coaches' professional development. By upskilling in this area, coaches can enhance their coaching skills and provide more effective support for all clients.

Coaches need to understand SDAM and adapt their coaching strategies to support clients with this condition. By doing so, coaches can help clients achieve their goals while enhancing their own coaching skills and professional development.

If you’re ready to upskill your coaching skills, sign up to my waiting list for the next launch of my Neurodivergent Coaching Skills & Practice Programme HERE.