If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you will have noticed that the ACO’s website has been having problems for months. Additionally, the Board of Directors has for an even longer time acknowledged issues with our criteria for Professional Member, our requirement that all members—Professional and Associate, coaches and non-coaches—adhere to the ICF’s code of ethics, the state of our Find-a-Coach database, and how evolving ADHD Coach certification affects ACO members. Implementing better solutions to all of these interconnected issues has taken a lot of the Board’s attention in the last year, and now, as of May 1, 2015, we are instituting a number of changes.

Here are the highlights:

  • We have upgraded our requirements for Professional ADHD Coach education,
  • We have created a code of conduct called Standards and Expectations for ACO Members that all members are now required to adhere to,
  • We are moving away from a “pay-to-play” find-a-coach database to a vetted and moderated ACO List of Professional ADHD Coaches that every trained ADHD Coach can be particularly proud to be listed on,
  • We have created the Certified Coach of the ACO® (CC-ACO®) designation, and
  • We have launched a brand new website to better serve members and the public.

So How Does This Affect You?


The ACO has always embraced both ADHD Coaches and anyone interested in and supportive of ADHD Coaching. In recognition that all of our members are professionals in their own fields, the ACO is moving to just one level of membership (see below for how we’ll handle our ADHD Coach listing).

  • As of today, all new people joining will join simply as Members of the ACO.
  • All current members who renew after 5/1/15 will renew as Members of the ACO, not Associate or Professional Members.

Code of Conduct

Diversity is a source of strength for both the organization and the profession. ACO membership is therefore made up of not just coaches, but also organizers, therapists, doctors, social workers, lawyers, and more. Recognizing that members who are not coaches should not be required to adhere to the ICF’s code of ethics for coaches, all members will now be required to adhere to our new code of conduct called Standards and Expectations for ACO Members (available on the website).

Education Requirements for Professional ADHD Coaches

We have revamped the educational requirements for our designation of Professional ADHD Coach. Starting immediately, the ACO’s new educational requirement for the designation of Professional ADHD Coach requires at least 60 hours of ICF-compatible life coach training (no change) plus at least 35 hours of ADHD Coach Training from a list of recognized sources (the list is available on the ACO’s website). This is a significant increase in the ADHD Coach Training requirement and brings the definition into alignment with the educational requirements necessary to apply for PAAC’s base level certification.

Starting now, the requirements for being recognized by the ACO as a Professional ADHD Coach are:

I) Any PAAC certification (these ADHD Coach certifications are accepted as a proxy for the education requirement).


II) Graduation from ADDCA, Coach Approach for Organizers, Impact Coaching, Mentor Coach, or OFI (these are all fully integrated ADHD Coach training programs).


III) Graduation from an ICF-compliant life coach training program (minimum of 60 hours) OR certification by ICF/CCE/IAC (accepted as a proxy for the life coach education requirement),


IIIA) at least 35 hours of ADHD Coach Training from:

1) ACO’s accepted ADHD Coach Training List

2) PAAC-accredited conference hours

3) PAAC-accredited hours from ICF’s ADHD Community of Practice


IIIB) pre trained and working with people affected by ADHD as a licensed Social Worker, Educational Therapist, School Psychologist, Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Pediatrician, other MD, or equivalent education, plus at least 25 hours ADHD Coach Training from:

1) ACO’s accepted ADHD Coach Training List

2) PAAC-accredited conference hours

3) PAAC-accredited hours from ICF’s ADHD Community of Practice

Professional ADHD Coach Listing

It is important for members, the organization, the profession, and the public that the ACO’s publicly searchable list of coaches be a credible source of Professional ADHD Coaches. To develop of such a list, the ACO is moving away from a “pay-to-play” coach listing to a vetted and moderated ACO List of Professional ADHD Coaches.

Upgrading to a vetted, moderated list has many benefits for both members and the public. It means that our standards regarding what it means to be a Professional ADHD coach are held to. It means that members can be particularly proud of having a listing at the ACO. It means that people seeking a coach will have access to the largest list of vetted coaches anywhere in the world and can be assured that the ADHD coaches they find at the ACO are well trained. Additionally, this puts the ACO in a strong position to negotiate listing our coaches on other ADHD information and advocacy sites (a great benefit to both members and the public), and we are happy to tell you that negotiations are already under way.

We will implement the list in the following way:

  • All new members will have to apply to be on the list, and meet the ACO’s new, more rigorous educational criteria. Applications consist of submitting, online, your business information and copies of your coach training certificates, CCEUs, and/or coach certifications (a detailed list of acceptable trainings, CCEUs, and certifications are on our website).
  • All current professional members, as long as they remain members in good standing, will remain on the list until the end of 2015.
  • As of January 1, 2016, EVERYONE on the ACO’s List of Professional ADHD Coaches will have had to provide the ACO with documentation that they have completed certain recognized trainings and/or certifications (list is available on our website).
  • Because the list is vetted and moderated, a real person will have to review the applications and enter the information into the publicly searchable ACO List of Professional ADHD Coaches. Therefore, a one-time processing fee will accompany applications. For the rest of this calendar year, the processing fee will be $25. Starting in 2016, the processing fee will be $50.
  • Once you are on the list, you may stay on the list as long as you remain a member in good standing (ie, you’ve paid your membership dues).

To initiate the process of getting listed, log in to the member section of the new website, click on “Get Listed”, and follow the directions. Do it today!

New ACO Website

The ACO acknowledges and apologizes for the problems that have plagued the website this last year. It’s been more than frustrating for all of us. The next time you visit ADHDCoaches.org, you will find a brand new website, built almost entirely from scratch. It is probably not yet 100% bug free, so if you find any errors or encounter any problems or confusions, please send us a bug report. We will address it right away. With that caveat, we encourage you to look around and check out all the great new member benefits you now have access to.

SarahDWrightSarah D. Wright is a founding board member of the ACO, author of ADHD Coaching Matters: The Definitive Guide and currently serves as Circle editor. She can be reached at sarah@sarahdwright.com