One of the most valuable resources for managing adult ADHD is an ADHD coach. Coaches are professionals who specializes in helping people develop personalized techniques to overcome their daily challenges and reach their long-term goals. However, not all coaches fit all clients, and finding the right fit for you is crucial for a successful coaching journey. In this article, we look at some of the most important factors to consider when determining if an ADHD coach is a good fit for you.
Taking a coach’s qualifications and experience into consideration is perhaps the most obvious first step.
Unfortunately, it can also be the trickiest.
At least in the US, there is currently no licensing board, like there is with medical doctors or therapists; so, technically, anyone could call themselves a coach. And, while there are a few ADHD coaching certification programs, qualifications for getting into and graduating from these programs range wildly and are often not entirely transparent.
Here are some questions to help you determine if a prospective coach’s qualifications and experience are a good fit for your needs:
Most coaches will offer a free consultation before you begin. If you can’t find answers to the above during your research, the free consult is a great time to ask directly. You may also ask questions like:
Experience deepens a coach’s understanding of the challenges individuals with ADHD face. A coach who has a record of successful clients and has seen a variety of perspectives is likely to have faced similar issues to what you may be dealing with. Through the years, they have sharpened and grown their skills and patience, which are essential when coaching individuals with ADHD. It also shows commitment; if they’ve been in this area for a while, it likely has significant meaning to them.
In a perfect world, you’d have access to customer testimonials and reviews that speak to the ADHD coach’s knowledge and personality to help you feel more comfortable. If you aren’t able to find testimonials on their website, feel free to ask them to provide some.
This also means that you should have at least some idea, in the beginning, of what you’re looking to work on, and what ADHD coaching is (and is not). Even if the answer is “everything,” try to identify a couple main challenges you’re struggling with and want to tackle. Where are your biggest pain points? In relationships? At work or school? Managing your household? Having some idea of this in the beginning will help you to narrow down what questions to ask during a consultation to see if they have the experience you’re looking for.
Your coach is your partner in this journey! They’ll be there for the highs, lows, and I-don’t-knows. You should look forward to getting to speak with them and feel like that person is on your side rooting for you. If you feel like the communication is choppy, or feel any sense of unease (outside of the normal first day nerves), that might be an sign that a different coach might be a better fit for you. Here’s some questions to think about when it comes to connectedness:
While training and experience are important, the relationship or rapport between coach and client is actually the number one predictor of success. So, go with your gut - do you like them? Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you feel you can trust them?
The main benefit of having one-on-one ADHD coaching is that you’re getting tailored advice for your unique situation. If you wanted general approaches to ADHD struggles, you could just google it (and you probably have). One-on-one coaching should take into account your individual strengths, challenges, and barriers to success to problem-solve your way to success. If you feel like your coach doesn’t bring these aspects into the conversation, it might be too generic to be successful.
Additionally, no two people are alike, and it shouldn’t feel like you’re hearing someone else’s journey being passed on to you. While you have to start from somewhere, and they may recommend trying something that has worked for others, your coach should be able to explain why the recommendations they are suggesting could be a great fit for you.
This one (in my opinion) is one of the biggest indicators of how the relationship will go between you and your coach. ADHD coaches are often knowledgeable in all aspects of ADHD, to an extent, but no coach can specialize in every single component. If your coach claims that, they may be exaggerating their level of expertise - and you want to work with someone who is honest about their strengths and limitations. As a coach, I specialize in self-esteem, boundaries, and communication. While I am more than able to help my clients with time management techniques, prioritization, organization, cognitive flexibility, etc., I know I stand out in my specialties.
Find a coach who will admit they may need to research something and get back to you. They should be willing to share resources and connect you with the answers you are looking for, if they’re unable to provide the help you need themselves. Their honesty will help you reach your goals, rather than slowing down while they try to figure it out as they go. Having limited specialties isn’t a weakness - it’s about self-awareness!
There will always be hard weeks. But even on your worst week, you should still feel some hope after talking with your coach more often than not. You should never walk away feeling worse than when you logged in, or feeling like they don’t believe you’ll be able to reach the goals. You might not be walking around feeling great when it’s been hard, but you’ll walk out knowing you aren’t alone in this, and that you have some new tools to tackle the current issues. You should leave sessions reminded that you have what it takes to manage your ADHD, even if it takes time to get there.