Most people don’t have any idea what all those letters after a name actually mean. At the recent ADDA conference ACO Board Member Laurie Dupar did a whole presentation on deciphering credentials. You can listen to the recording of Alphabet Soup: Decode Coaching Credentials and Find the Perfect Coach for You! or you can check out a summary of coaching credentials online at Peer Resources.

Credentials can be used to inform. The can be used to impress. They can also be abused and made fun of. I remember a story of someone who put “NBI” on his business card. When asked what they stood for the ironic answer was: “Nothing But Initials.” I appreciate the witticism, but it points up the ambivalence that many of us feel about those initials.

Credentialing and credentials.
So do they matter? I think the answer is both no and yes. On the one hand, I have never had anyone call about coaching who cared whether I had a credential. So from my business point of view, credentials don’t matter at all. Only my skill and reputation as a coach matter.

Photo by Kevin RosseelOn the other hand, the terms and concepts of credentials and credentialing have been with us for thousands of years. The terms derive from the Medieval Latin word credentia (to trust), which derived from the Latin credere (to believe).

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a credential entitles one to confidence, credit, or authority. So, in contrast to my personal situation, I think credentials and credentialing do matter to our developing profession. The term ADHD Coach needs to mean something, and mean something specific; a meaning that is understood by not only by those of us in the profession, but by the rest of the world as well.

As ADHD coaching gains recognition and acceptance as a profession, credentialing bolsters all of that. To the coach a credential designates a certain level of achievement and is often something to be truly proud of. To clients and other professionals, a credential means they can have confidence the coach has a specific knowledge base and skill set.

Just as you would want to know if someone was an MD, chiropractor, or acupuncturist before you sought treatment for your back pain, knowing if someone is an ADHD coach, a professional organizer or therapist will help you choose who to work with on your ADHD issues.

While it is true that people will hire or refer to coaches they feel they can trust whether or not the coach holds a coaching credential, all established professions have recognized credentials. Thus, it is important to establishing our profession that we support and encourage our own credentialing. Last month we brought you A Brief History of ADHD Coaching. This month’s article is about life coaching credentials: those offered by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the International Association of Coaching (IAC). In subsequent articles we will bring you more information about ADHD Coaching credentials and other articles on the greater issues of ADHD Coaching.

Sarah WrightAll my best,
Sarah Wright
President, ADHD Coaches Organization, Inc.