Many people, particularly those who are new to this profession, struggle to describe what they do to their family, friends, colleagues, and clients. They are not alone.

The profession of ADHD Coaching has for a long time had a clear definition of what an ADHD Coach is (a trained life coach with additional training and expertise in working with people affected by ADHD), but not of what ADHD Coaching is.

Recognizing the critical need for this definition—one that codifies the essential elements of ADHD Coaching as it is now understood to be after 20 years of experience and research—in 2013 the board of the ACO invited all the leaders in the field to participate in a Thought Leader Summit to help create such a definition for the ACO. This turned out to be an extraordinary conversation that revealed a broad consensus of the elements that must be present for an interaction between practitioner and client to be considered ADHD Coaching.

The ACO’s definition of ADHD Coaching that grew out of that summit, is given here. You can read more about how ADHD Coaching developed in the new book, ADHD Coaching Matters – The Definitive Guide.

The Definition of ADHD Coaching

Like all life coaching, ADHD Coaching addresses the needs and aspirations of the individual being coached. Importantly, ADHD Coaching also addresses the specific needs of clients who have ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms. ADHD Coaches therefore focus on working with clients on their personal goals and the pragmatic issues of achieving them while living with ADHD.

ADHD Coaching is a collaborative, supportive, goal-oriented process in which the coach and the client work together to identify the client’s goals and then develop the self- awareness, systems, and strategies—the skills—necessary for the client to achieve those goals and full potential.

Because ADHD Coaching specifically addresses the needs of people affected by ADHD, it is a seamless blend of three elements employed by the coach as needed:

  • Life Coaching: The client is regarded as an intact, creative, and resourceful person, and the coaching is collaborative, client-centered, client-driven, and confidential. The coach partners with the client in a thought-provoking and creative process to facilitate the client’s actions toward self- awareness and achievement of the client’s self-identified goals, providing structure and accountability, as needed, to help the client achieve those goals.
  • Skills Coaching: The coach and client collaborate to develop conscious awareness of the client’s strengths, challenges, and resources and, leveraging that awareness, develop conscious competence; creating systems and strategies tailored to the client’s assets and environment that support and strengthen the client’s ability to manage the pragmatic aspects of life.
  • Education: The coach shares research-based information regarding aspects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and related topics relevant to the client’s needs and interests. The coach may also offer information regarding tools, resources, and referrals as needed or requested by the client.

ADHD Coaching is necessarily more than simple life coaching, skills coaching, or education. The crux of ADHD Coaching is using all three elements to help clients with the self-awareness required to understand and work with their own unique brains, thereby recognizing, appreciating, and using their strengths to reach their goals, enjoy their passions, and achieve lifelong well-being.

The ACO hopes this definition, adopted by the profession at large, will both help clarify what you do as a coach, helping you educate your clients and community about ADHD Coaching, and spur additional research into the effects of ADHD Coaching on outcomes for people affected by ADHD so other professionals and the public at large learn the value of ADHD Coaching and Coaches  get even better at what we do.