Updated: Sep 14, 2022
Who am I? I was diagnosed with ADHD at the end of 2020 and realized that the diagnosis can explain everything I had struggled with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and inability to focus on one career path. However, I was shocked by the lack of support for women with ADHD and realized that something needed to be done to support more people like me. I started training as an ADHD coach and now I am exploring entrepreneurship to make an impact on my community. I write a lot about neurodiversity and entrepreneurship. Find out more on www.ownyourflair.com Key topics discussed
What is ADHD coaching 101 (how it helps people with ADHD)
My experience with ADHD coaching
My experience of training to be a certified ADHD coach (& why I trained for it)
What is the research behind ADHD coaching
How to find an ADHD coach that works for you
ADHD coaching 101 It is a profession where a coach specializes in life coaching, but specifically for people with ADHD. They would be trained to understand ADHD and be able to support clients with common difficulties with ADHD. The common focus of ADHD coaching is on improving executive functioning skills: i.e. planning, task initiation, time blindness, etc. ADHD coaching is different from therapy in that the focus of the sessions will not be on the past, but it will be present and future-focused and outcome orientated. The goal after each session is to give clients a starting point to address issues they may find difficult. The coach then works with the client to develop strategies to address the difficulties. This is an empowering process because clients are encouraged to come up with ideas that would suit their brains and their life. The coach will help facilitate this process of ideation and often through this process, clients will learn how their ADHD brain works… often in life people with ADHD never get the space to actually explore how our brain works and develop tailored strategies for our needs. At the end of each session, clients should have clear actions on how to move forward.
My experience with ADHD coaching The first time I talked to the coach about my ADHD was liberating because it gave me a safe space to reflect on what I was struggling with, as well as my strengths. Before my diagnosis, I did not know I was struggling with issues like prioritization, finishing tasks, and planning. I just didn’t recognize it as being part of ADHD — I just thought I sucked at it. I liked the idea of it being outcome orientated because I really just needed to get some skills and practical steps to help me with the difficulties I was facing with ADHD. I also developed clarity on how my brain worked and what changes I needed to make in my life to play more to my strengths.
Training as a Certified ADHD coach I knew I didn’t want to rely on medication to help me with my ADHD. I wanted to find a way that can continue to help myself. Therefore, I trained as a certified ADHD coach. After tonnes of research, I felt convinced that ADHD coaching was the most practical route I could take to learn how to manage my ADHD for life. I can use these skills to help others was also appealing because I have a strong desire to help my community, especially women who were diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.
Training at the International ADHD Center The decision to train as a Certified ADHD coach is really important to me because anyone can call themselves an ADHD coach without the proper training.
I did not want to be coaching people when I wasn’t trained professionally. When you coach people, there comes a responsibility to give them the best service especially when it is ADHD coaching because we all know ADHD has strong links with mental health difficulties.
The good things about my training: I trained at the IACT center. There were 3 hours of classes and the course ran for one year. There were readings before each class and a library of workshops, coaching labs, and resources to access. I felt the course helped upskill my knowledge with both ADHD and life coaching and gave me the space to debate the very important topics in my class. The readings were very well-researched and structured well. The coaching labs were important to see ADHD coaching in action and offered a safe space for suggestions for improvement, etc. There were also 5 hours of mentoring with a coach, which meant we could get feedback for our coaching. After the course, I felt confident and comfortable to coach clients. I don’t think I would have been able to build this confidence without the course.
The bad things about my training are : I paid £5k for my ADHD coaching associate level (the highest level). I think this was extortionate considering I only had 3 hours of classes each week and everything was conducted online. I felt this wasn’t really comparable to a course from the top universities. The admin side of the program wasn’t great as I never could get through to admin and the website was very basic/ bootstrapped for the costs that people were paying per course. I didn’t make any of the workshops that were on offer since the timings never worked for me and I never got the recordings either (again, lack of response from admin).
Lack of diversity in the ADHD coaching profession In my class, everyone was female except one person and I was only the Asian person in my class. Everyone was Caucasian. This did not surprise me and this lack of diversity is the exact reason why I trained as an ADHD coach. It is so important to have diversity because we know neurodiversity transcends race, gender, and socioeconomic status. I also felt a responsibility to my community to show up and speak up for my community. I think the costs to train as an ADHD coach can put many people off and be inaccessible to many. I really hope this changes and more people from diverse backgrounds can have access to this training to serve their communities.
What is the research behind ADHD coaching I am obsessed with research and, as a former political scientist; it is very important for me to understand how effective ADHD coaching is. There is research to suggest the positive impact of ADHD coaching. This review paper looked at ADHD coaching research out there and found that 19 studies showed ADHD coaching helped improve executive functioning and ADHD symptoms. It is, of course, difficult to measure the impact of coaching over a longer time frame unless you follow up with people after their coaching session after a certain time.
Just from my experience of coaching clients, those clients who stick with me longer than 10 sessions do gain a level of confidence and understand how to think about their difficulties and come up with ideas that would work for them. It is very rewarding to see and I love seeing my clients get empowered.
How to find an ADHD Coach that suits you Top key things to ask are:
1) Are they professionally trained: This may not matter for you as you are free to choose coaches trained or not trained but I think this is important given trained coaches are trained at a high level and follow ICF coaching rules and standards
2) What is their experience with ADHD? This may be important to ask in order for you to feel if you feel the need to feel connected to your coach and often asking about their experiences helps if you both have some similarities with your journeys with ADHD
3) What do they specialize in with ADHD coaching? Some coaches will have a specialism and some coaches won’t. It is still worth asking as some coaches may prefer to coach adults vs children etc.
4) What is their philosophy or approach to coaching? Coaches can approach their sessions differently compared to others. Some coaches may want you to bring to the session a topic, some coaches may ask you to do homework, etc. Check how they approach their sessions and see whether that would align with what you need.
5)Logistics: Of course, ask about the cost per session. 1 hour of coaching can go up to £120 per session, so definitely ask about packages and what the payment plans would look like.
Where I would recommend finding coaches: ADHD UK marketplace The coaches are vetted and all have the appropriate qualifications. Also, 10% of the income received by the coaches gets donated to the charity. Genius Within This organization has coaches spanning from dyslexia to ADHD to autism etc. It covers a wide spectrum. Again a trusted source. ADHD 360 I haven’t used their services but they do have affordable group coaching options.
Oh and of course, I have to plug my own adhd coaching services! I offer ADHD coaching at £70 for 50 minutes, this includes notes and worksheets. I have a sliding scale so for people who can't afford the full £70, I can lower it if you are facing financial difficulty. Also remember if you are from the UK, you can get ADHD coaching paid for via access to work.