Improving Flexible Thinking

Flexible thinking enables individuals to adapt to new situations, consider multiple perspectives, and navigate challenges with resilience and creativity. Integrated executive functioning (EF) coaching offers a comprehensive approach to fostering flexible thinking skills, empowering students to overcome cognitive rigidity and embrace new ways of thinking, working, and problem-solving.

Identifying Vulnerable Contexts

Integrated EF coaching begins by helping students identify vulnerable contexts where rigid thinking tends to occur. Whether it’s a particular subject, task, or social interaction, these contexts often trigger automatic responses and narrow-mindedness. By raising awareness of these patterns, students gain insight into their cognitive processes and recognize the need for flexible thinking strategies.

Shifting Perspectives

One of the key strategies employed in integrated EF coaching is the use of mapping techniques to visualize different perspectives and possibilities. By mapping out alternative pathways and outcomes, students learn to challenge preconceived notions and expand their thinking beyond conventional boundaries. Mapping exercises encourage creativity, curiosity, and open-mindedness, fostering a mindset conducive to flexible thinking.

Role Playing for Empathy

Role playing is another effective tool used in integrated EF coaching to promote flexible thinking and empathy. By assuming different roles and viewpoints, students gain a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives and experiences. Role playing exercises encourage active listening, perspective-taking, and collaboration, fostering empathy and tolerance for ambiguity.

Shift-Shaping Strategies

Integrated EF coaching incorporates shift-shaping strategies designed to help students break free from cognitive rigidity and embrace change. These strategies involve deliberate efforts to disrupt entrenched thought patterns and habits, encouraging experimentation and adaptation. By practicing shift-shaping techniques, such as reframing problems, brainstorming alternative solutions, and embracing uncertainty, students develop the resilience and flexibility needed to thrive in complex and uncertain environments.

Benefits of Cognitive Flexibility

Cognitive flexibility cultivated through integrated EF coaching extends beyond academic success. It equips students with the skills and mindset necessary for lifelong learning, adaptive problem-solving, and effective communication. Flexible thinkers are better equipped to process and apply feedback constructively, navigate social interactions with ease, and approach challenges with confidence and creativity.

For more information about the Integrated Executive Function Coaching Program and work of Mary Miele, our founder and creator of the Integrated Executive Function Coaching Model, please email Mary Miele at To get set up with an Integrated EF Coach, please email Amy Nathan at 

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2023-24 Edition

What You Need to Know to Support Your School-Aged Child.

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