I thought coaching was only for mentally healthy people. Isn’t ADHD a mental health disorder?

Yes and no. It is important to note that ADHD, while still designated a mental health disorder, is now known to be a genetically related, neurologically based brain difference (which, to provide some perspective, also describes left-handedness— another genetically related, neurologically based brain difference). That being said, psychological and physiological challenges such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders often co-occur with ADHD. Coaches are not medical professionals and do not work with their clients on mental health issues (unless, or course, the coach is also a licensed therapist or MD). A coach, however, can and often does refer clients to competent doctors and therapists to help the client address their psychological and physiological health needs. For coaching to be effective, clients must have addressed or be addressing these issues and be ready, willing, and able to participate in the coaching process.

How does coaching differ from therapy?

Traditionally, therapy focused on the past, on emotional healing, and on resolving deficits and weaknesses to help restore a person to functioning. In contrast, Life Coaching is a forward looking process for people who are already functioning well. In Life Coaching, the relationship between the coach and client is collaborative and egalitarian, and the focus of the collaboration is on constructing solutions, improving performance, attaining goals, and maximizing the client’s personal and professional potential.

How does ADHD Coaching differ from Life Coaching?

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines Life Coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” In the ICF model, coaching is a process and coaches do not educate or share information with their clients. ADHD Coaching differs from Life Coaching in that it focuses both on the process of helping clients identify and achieve their goals, and on the pragmatic issues of doing so while living with ADHD. Additionally, since understanding ADHD is crucial to learning to live well with it, ADHD Coaches may share information regarding ADHD and related topics and information regarding tools, resources, and referrals as needed or requested by the client.

How is coaching delivered?

There are many options for who you can work with and how you may receive coaching support. You may choose to work with a coach regardless of their location. Coaching sessions may be provided in-person, by telephone or online through a secured virtual meeting platform. Many coaches also offer e-mail and texting support between sessions. The terms for conducting sessions, length and duration of sessions, and opportunities for check-in and support between sessions will vary amongst coaches.

How long does ADHD Coaching take?

Depending on your goal(s), a 3-month contract is usually the minimum amount of time for coaching goals to be realized. This time frame can be divided up into weekly sessions, biweekly sessions or a combination. Your coach will work with you in a manner that best fits your schedule. For sustained growth and long term change or for more complex goals, six to twelve month commitments are typical.

How do I know if ADHD coaching will work for me?

You will want to be able to trust and connect with your coach, and feel understood when you talk. The best way to determine that level of rapport is to talk to a coach. Many coaches offer a free consultation call where you can do just that. Explain what goals you would like to reach in coaching, what you would like to change, and what your expectations are. The coach will tell you if ADHD coaching can realistically meet your expectations. Use our Find A Coach Directory to aide in your search.

What kind of training does an ADHD Coach have?

A Professional ADHD Coach must have at least 60 hours of specific Life Coach training from an International Coach Federation (ICF) accredited or compliant program plus at least 35 hours of specific ADHD Coach training from a recognized source.

What kind of certification does an ADHD Coach have?

ADHD Coaching, as with all Life Coaching, is self-regulated. Certification is therefore encouraged but not legally required. The Professional Association of ADHD Coaches (PAAC) offers the only independent ADHD Coaching Specialty Certification in the world. Many ADHD Coaches hold certifications from recognized Life Coach certifying bodies such and the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE) as well.

How can I convince my spouse (parent, child, etc.) to get ADHD coaching?

There are many reasons why people will not seek help. For the most part, they are embarrassed. They may see coaching as just another thing they will fail at – the fear of the unknown. Another reason could be that the person is depressed and will need medical help before coaching will work. Sometimes a family doctor or other professional can approach this subject easier than a spouse or parent.

For adults, provide them with literature on ADHD coaching. Ask them to read about coaching on our website. Browse the bookstore on our website of the many books written by experts on ADHD and coaching. It may help for them to read the profiles of the coaches in our Find-a-coach database and have a discussion with them on their approach to helping adults with ADHD. But give the person with ADHD space and time to think about ADHD coaching for themselves. They will be more successful if they are ready for coaching.

Children do not have the lifetime of disappointments that afflicts so many adults. Children need to know that you, the parent, have done your best to help. They need to know that there are trained people called coaches. Explain to them that coaches work with them to correct those things that have given them great difficulty. Give them your love and support as they go through this wonderful journey of exploring what will help them improve and succeed.