When you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), making certain changes, following through on projects, managing your time, accomplishing your goals and even getting to work on time can be difficult. Symptoms such as inattention, distractibility and restlessness cause you to get stuck — on a regular basis. But a coach who specializes in ADHD can help.
Sandy Maynard, MS, a veteran ADHD coach who operates Catalytic Coaching, discusses how ADHD coaches can — and can’t — help clients, and how readers can find the right coach for them.
What ADHD Coaches Do
According to Maynard, ADHD coaches “help clients clarify what’s problematic.” They break down problems into definable goals and steps the client can take.
They have a unique understanding of how ADHD affects their clients and the challenges that ADHD creates. That means that they’re able to “adjust strategies to help with ADD challenges [such as] impulsivity, inattention or whatever the aspect of the problem is.” This helps clients learn to better cope with their ADHD.
Coaches also keep clients accountable and provide support. The cheerleading component, Maynard said, is especially valuable because people without ADHD aren’t able to appreciate how difficult it is to do things like make it to work on time. Maynard “helps clients tap themselves on the back for accomplishing something that others without ADD happen to do so easily.”
What Coaches Don’t Do
It’s often hard for people to distinguish the difference between coaches and therapists. Maynard noted that “coaches don’t deal with traumatic, emotional and psychological difficulties and roadblocks.” And of course they can’t diagnose a person with attention deficit disorder or any other disorder. Only a licensed mental health professional is empowered to treat someone with a mental disorder — which is what attention deficit disorder is. Coaches can help with life problems as a result of the disorder, but they can’t treat the disorder itself.
Here’s one way to see the distinction: Maynard’s client was having issues with her family. They expected her to do a lot of work because she didn’t have a job; however, she did have a dissertation that left her little time for anything else. While Maynard didn’t help the client resolve her family issues — this is a therapist’s territory — she did help her set boundaries and find strategies to get her work done.
It’s common for people with ADHD to struggle with other disorders, and these can interfere with coaching. Not surprisingly, a client with untreated depression won’t get as much benefit from coaching, Maynard said. Clients have to be “ready, willing and able to be coached.” In fact, she usually doesn’t work with clients who’ve had substance abuse issues unless they’ve been recovered for a year. It’s vital for clients to participate in psychotherapy and resolve these kinds of issues.
Tips for Finding an ADHD Coach
1. Search on reputable sites.
To start researching ADHD coaches, consider checking out these sites:
Addresources.org lets you search their national directory for providers, including coaches.
CHADD support groups usually have a local list of resources they give out.
The Institute for the Advancement of AD/HD Coaching (IAAC) has a list of accredited coaches in each state.
2. Check out their background.
When selecting a coach, Maynard suggested paying attention to the number of years they’ve been coaching, their educational background and their training.
Having a psychological background, she said, is helpful for picking up red flags when clients aren’t ready for coaching or need help from a therapist. If you’re looking for a coach for your child, a special education degree can go a long way. In other words, you want to match the qualifications of a potential coach to what you’re looking for, Maynard said.
Also, certification is essential. For instance, the IAAC, where Maynard is a founding member, certifies coaches specifically in ADHD.
3. Go beyond testimonials.
Don’t rely on glowing testimonials that a prospective coach directly provides. “A better benchmark,” according to Maynard, is “to get a referral or testimonial from another professional,” such as a psychiatrist or therapist who has referred clients to that coach. You’re more likely to get accurate information this way.
4. Interview the coach.
As part of your research, ask each coach specific questions about their background, such as: “What professional organizations do you belong to? What conferences have you attended?” These questions can help you delve deeper into their experience.
You also want to know if they specialize in what you need. Ask, “What kinds of clients have you worked with?” If you’re an entrepreneur who needs help structuring your schedule and getting organized, ask if the coach has worked with other entrepreneurs. If you’re looking for a coach to help your teen succeed in his last two years of high school and get college applications out on time, make sure that coach specializes in working with adolescents.
It’s also a good idea to ask for a testimonial from a similar client, Maynard said (e.g., if the coach has worked with attorneys, ask to speak to one of her lawyer clients).
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). ADHD Coaching + 9 Tips to Find the Right Coach. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/adhd-coaching-9-tips-to-find-the-right-coach/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.