Not everyone needs an ADHD coach.
Seriously, everybody and their brother is hanging an internet shingle and calling themselves an ADHD coach.
I’m happy that ADHD is having it’s moment, but saddened by the predatory behavior of my fellow humans.
There is no reporting system for poorly performing or unethical coaches. It’s not like a therapist where you can report them to the state where they are licensed.
A few years back I was feeling pretty down about my writing aspirations. So I hired a local business owner for business coaching. She’d built an impressive brick and mortar business and then transitioned to coaching after the death of her husband.
My coach was trained at the popular Life Coach School.
I was taught how to do thought models. Backwards and forwards and every which way. I was taught to believe in the model and choose my thoughts. It was the most expensive form of journaling I’ve ever done.
After six months of attempting to replace my thoughts (T) like light bulbs when they didn’t get me results (R), I felt kinda fuzzy headed.
The model was good for working through my thoughts at night when I couldn’t sleep. But it wasn’t practical for everyday use. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do a model every time you hit a roadblock with ADHD.
I didn’t feel angry, but I also didn’t feel satisfied with my coaching experience.
Every other day I see someone else calling themselves an ADHD coach, so I thought perhaps I should write something about my experiences and what I’ve learned over the past couple years through my own training and talking to colleagues.
Not everyone needs an ADHD coach
What is a coach?
First, people use the word coach to describe a range of services. Sometimes they are consulting or teaching. Other times it’s sitting on zoom commiserating.
There are some who want to be “influencers” and take pictures of themselves but also want you to pay them to talk to you. Like Cameo for ADHD I guess.
At this point I’m relatively sure the word “coach” is applied anytime someone wants to charge for their time. By using the word they feel more empowered to charge large sums of money. And since coaching is not a regulated industry they can get away with it.
Check out social media and draw your own conclusions.
Real coaches hold their clients out as naturally creative, resourceful, and whole.
They won’t make big, unrealistic promises like they can fix your brain, help you manage your thoughts, or teach you how to make a million dollars.
A coach will probably tell you their goal is to help you better understand yourself. Or something along those lines.
While you’re at it ask about their training, too.
Lived experience is great. But trained coaches have a better understanding of the boundaries between coaching and mental health care and how someone without training could do harm.
Speaking of mental health, you might not be ready for coaching.
Not everyone is open to the uncomfortableness of coaching.
A good coach is going to challenge you from time-to-time and help you to see yourself more clearly. They’re gonna ask you questions that are hard to answer. You gotta be ready and open to having those conversations.
Depending on where you are on the journey, you might need to work through some personal history or relationship issues that have developed alongside ADHD. Sometimes a therapist is a better choice if you’re newly diagnosed and you need to integrate all this new information.
Coaching works well alongside therapy, but is not a replacement for a professional who can apply specific therapeutic skills.
If your life is unstable, or you have a crisis situation you need support for that before you pay for a coach. You’re also more likely to be reimbursed by your insurance from a therapist.
I will admit the best therapists are very busy and you could wait months to get an appointment. In that case, ask the therapist to recommend an ADHD coach they know and trust.
That way you have assurances about what you are paying for.
It’s not always just ADHD
Nobody seems to want to talk about anything but ADHD.
This is a disservice to you because there are a number of conditions that often come along for the ride that aren’t as sexy (or as profitable) as talking about ADHD alone:
substance use disorders
Sensitivities/sensory integration difficulties
I could go on, but I think you get my point.
I understand how badly you want to see forward movement in your life. And I also understand that the idea of waiting months to see a great coach or therapist is frustrating.
I spent about 12k in a year for my coach because I felt the same way.
Your sincere desire to build a life that fits is what these people are using to manipulate you.
I can’t stop bad actors from using sleazy sales tactics to manipulate adults with ADHD. But what I can do is help you see through the bs.
If the “coach” makes promises that seem too good to be true, trust your gut
If they talk in circles and you feel confused, run
If the price tag feels excessive, it probably is
If the person talks about themselves more than you, move on
If they apply one tool/strategy to everybody, they aren’t coaching
I know that it looks like ADHD coaching is THE THING right now.
You need to be a smart consumer
More discussion of brain-based challenges in women is a good thing.
On the other hand misinformation, profiteering, and tacky behavior has run rampant.
Just because someone has ADHD doesn’t mean they have your best interests at heart.
To all I’ve pissed off I apologize. No not really. I’ve now spoken to a handful of women who have endured financial and emotional harm through people they hired off social media so I’m a little pissed.
<steps down off soapbox>
I am a coach so I’m definitely not trying to take down the coaching industry, I just think we all need to be discerning about ADHD supports and services.
Not everyone needs an ADHD Coach.
Do your research. Ask questions. Be a skeptic. High prices and stylized photos are not a good indicator of the coach’s skill or ethics.
Below are some resources.
14 questions to ask an ADHD coach via Edge Foundation
More on the benefits of ADHD coaching via Black Girl Lost Keys
Don’t let anyone manipulate you.
When you meet the right person you will know. The energy will feel comfortable and safe.
In the words of Alexis Rose…