FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Below you’ll find a list of the most common inquiries about SF ADHD Coach and ADHD Coaching.* If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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I specialize in working with new moms, women in tech, entrepreneurs, and artists. My clients tend to be intelligent, creative, sensitive, playful, passionate, and some of the hardest working individuals you’ll ever know.

In spite of their many talents and a massive amount of hard work, they feel stuck. They struggle with things like planning, prioritization, communication, time management, organization, goal setting, emotional regulation, self-advocacy, project completion, and more.

ADHD coaching is an ongoing collaborative partnership between a person with ADHD traits, including persons impacted by ADHD, and a professional coach who brings current ADHD knowledge, best practices, understanding, and ADHD-friendly skills and tools to facilitate positive personal and professional change for the client.

The ADHD coaching partnership is an appreciative and creative inquiry process that empowers clients to learn about themselves and their unique brain processing so they can make choices and take actions to create the lives they choose to live. The ADHD coach listens with an appreciation and working experience of how ADHD may be impacting the client.

ADHD coaches create a safe, non-judgmental environment, listen with an ADHD understanding, observe what is preventing the client from reaching specific goals, explore ways in which the client can maximize strengths, talents, and passion, and enlist strategies and behaviors congruent with the ADHD client’s learning, processing, and organization styles. ADHD coaches regard their clients as naturally creative, resourceful, and incredible human beings.

Coaching is a professional partnership between a qualified coach and an individual or team that supports the achievement of extraordinary results, based on goals set by the individual (or team). Through the process of coaching, the individual focuses on the skills and actions needed to successfully produce personally relevant results.

The individual (or team) chooses the focus of conversation, while the coach listens and contributes observations and questions, as well as concepts and principles that can assist in generating possibilities and identifying actions. Through the coaching process the clarity that is needed to support the most effective actions is achieved.

Coaching accelerates the individual’s (or team’s) progress by providing greater focus and awareness of possibilities leading to more effective choices. Coaching concentrates on where individuals are now and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be in the future.

ICF member coaches recognize that results are a matter of the individual’s (or team’s) intentions, choices, and actions; supported by the coach’s efforts and application of coaching skills, approaches, and methods.

A coach who specializes in ADHD coaching has a knowledge base in a specialty area that the general coach does not have. It’s much like a coach who specializes in small business possessing a special business knowledge base. The coach can draw on this knowledge base in his or her coaching, and generally be more conversant and effective in that specialty.

For example, ADHD coaches have spent far more time than general coaches learning about neuroscience and how the ADHD brain works. They are familiar with concepts such as executive functioning in the brain. They have a deeper understanding of the role of medications and in general how meds work. They recognize distraction, overwhelm, restlessness, fidgeting, and other traits as possibly being ADHD related. As clients become better educated as to how their ADHD brain is impacting their functioning, this leads to the client taking more appropriate actions.

An ADHD coach is also far more likely to understand how the person with ADHD thinks, going beyond empathizing with their problem. The ADHD coach is able to validate, understand, support, and acknowledge what their clients are going through. They truly “get” it. This is very important to people who have ADHD, who often don’t feel understood and need validation. A general coach simply will not have the knowledge base to coach on this level.

Individuals who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision making skills, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles. Consistent with a commitment to enhancing their personal effectiveness, they can also expect to see significant results in the areas of productivity, personal satisfaction with life and work, and the achievement of personally relevant goals.

To determine if you could benefit from coaching, start by summarizing what you would expect to accomplish in coaching. When someone has a fairly clear idea of the desired outcome, a coaching partnership can be a useful tool for developing a strategy for how to achieve that outcome with greater ease.

Since coaching is a partnership, also ask yourself if you find it valuable to collaborate, to have another viewpoint and to be asked to consider new perspectives. Also, ask yourself if you are ready to devote the time and the energy to making real changes in your work or life. If the answer to these questions is yes, then coaching may be a beneficial way for you to grow and develop.

There are many reasons that someone might choose to work with a coach, including but not limited to the following:

  • There is something at stake (a challenge, stretch goal, or opportunity), and it is urgent, compelling, or exciting (or all of the above).
  • There is a gap in knowledge, skills, confidence, or resources.
  • A big stretch is being asked or required, and it is time sensitive.
  • There is a desire to accelerate results.
  • There is a need for a course correction in work or life due to a setback.
  • An individual has a style of relating that is ineffective or is not supporting the achievement of one’s personally relevant goals.
  • There is a lack of clarity, and there are choices to be made.
  • The individual is extremely successful, and success has started to become problematic.
  • Work and life are out of balance, and this is creating unwanted consequences.
  • One has not identified his or her core strengths and how best to leverage them.
  • The individual desires work and life to be simpler, less complicated.
  • There is a need and a desire to be better organized and more self-managing.

The Coaching Process: Coaching typically begins with a personal interview (either face-to-face or by video call) to assess the individual’s current opportunities and challenges, define the scope of the relationship, identify priorities for action, and establish specific desired outcomes. Subsequent coaching sessions may be conducted by video call or phone, with each session lasting a previously established length of time. Between scheduled coaching sessions, the individual may be asked to complete specific actions that support the achievement of one’s personally prioritized goals. The coach may provide additional resources in the form of relevant articles, checklists, assessments, or models, to support the individual’s thinking and actions. The duration of the coaching relationship varies depending on the individual’s personal needs and preferences.

Assessments: A variety of assessments are available to support the coaching process, depending upon the needs and circumstances of the individual. Assessments provide objective information that can enhance the individual’s self-awareness as well as awareness of others and their circumstances, provide a benchmark for creating coaching goals and actionable strategies, and offer a method for evaluating progress.

Concepts, models, and principles: A variety of concepts, models, and principles drawn from the behavioral sciences, management literature, spiritual traditions and/or the arts and humanities, may be incorporated into the coaching conversation in order to increase the individual’s self-awareness and awareness of others, foster shifts in perspective, promote fresh insights, provide new frameworks for looking at opportunities and challenges, and energize and inspire the individual’s forward actions.

Appreciative approach: Coaching incorporates an appreciative approach. The appreciative approach is grounded in what’s right, what’s working, what’s wanted, and what’s needed to get there. Using an appreciative approach, the coach models constructive communication skills and methods the individual (or team) can utilize to enhance personal communication effectiveness. The appreciative approach incorporates discovery-based inquiry, proactive (as opposed to reactive) ways of managing personal opportunities and challenges, constructive framing of observations and feedback in order to elicit the most positive responses from others, and envisioning success as contrasted with focusing on problems. The appreciative approach is simple to understand and employ, but its effects in harnessing possibility thinking and goal-oriented action can be profound.

The most important thing to look for in selecting a coach is someone with whom you feel you can easily relate and create the most powerful partnership. Here are some questions you may want to ask prospective coaches:

  • What is your coaching specialty or client areas you most often work in?
  • What specialized skills or experience do you bring to coaching?
  • What is your coaching experience? (number of individuals coached, years of experience, types of situations)
  • What is your coach specific training? Do you hold an ICF Credential, or are you enrolled in an ICF Accredited Training Program?
  • What is your philosophy about coaching?
  • What is your specific process for coaching? (how sessions are conducted, frequency, etc.)
  • What are some coaching success stories? (specific examples of individuals who have done well and examples of how you have added value)

The length of a coaching partnership varies depending on the individual’s (or team’s) needs and preferences. For certain types of focused coaching, 3 to 6 months of working with a coach may suffice. For other types of coaching, people may find it beneficial to work with a coach for a longer period. Factors that may impact the length of time include: the types of goals, the ways the individual (or teams) like to work, the frequency of coaching meetings, and financial resources available to support coaching.

Overall, be prepared to design the coaching partnership with the coach. For example, think of a strong partnership that you currently have in your work or life. Look at how you built that relationship and what is important to you about that partnership. You will want to build those same things into a coaching relationship. Here are a few other tips:

  • Have a personal interview with one or more coaches to determine “what feels right” in terms of the chemistry. Coaches are accustomed to being interviewed, and there is generally no charge for an introductory conversation of this type.
  • Look for stylistic similarities and differences between the coach and you and how these might support your growth as an individual (or the growth of your team).
  • Discuss your goals for coaching within the context of the coach’s specialty or the coach’s preferred way of working with an individual (or team).
  • Talk with the coach about what to do if you ever feel things are not going well; make some agreements up front on how to handle questions or problems.
  • Remember that coaching is a partnership, so be assertive about talking with the coach about anything that is of concern at any time.

The role of the coach is to provide objective assessments and observations that foster the individual’s (or team members’) enhanced self-awareness and awareness of others, practice astute listening in order to garner a full understanding of the individual’s (or team’s) circumstances, be a sounding board in support of possibility thinking and thoughtful planning and decision making, champion opportunities and potential, encourage stretches and challenges consistent with personal strengths and aspirations, foster shifts in thinking that reveal fresh perspectives, challenge blind spots in order to illuminate new possibilities, and support the creation of alternative scenarios. Finally, the coach maintains professional boundaries in the coaching relationship, including confidentiality, and adheres to the coaching profession’s code of ethics.

The role of the individual (or team) is to create the coaching agenda based on personally meaningful coaching goals, utilize assessments and observations to enhance self-awareness and awareness of others, envision personal and/or organizational success, assume full responsibility for personal decisions and actions, utilize the coaching process to promote possibility thinking and fresh perspectives, take courageous action in alignment with personal goals and aspirations, engage big picture thinking and problem solving skills, and utilize the tools, concepts, models, and principles provided by the coach to engage effective forward actions.

What does coaching ask of an individual?
To be successful, coaching asks certain things of the individual, all of which begin with intention.

  • Focus: on one’s self, the tough questions, the hard truths—and one’s success.
  • Observation: the behaviors and communications of others.
  • Listening: to one’s intuition, assumptions, judgments, and to the way one sounds when one speaks.
  • Self-discipline: to challenge existing attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors; and to develop new ones which serve one’s goals in a superior way.
  • Style: leveraging personal strengths and overcoming limitations in order to develop a winning style.
  • Decisive actions: however uncomfortable, and in spite of personal insecurities, in order to reach for the extraordinary.
  • Compassion: for one’s self as he/she/they experiment(s) with new behaviors, experiences setbacks—and for others as they do the same.
  • Humor: committing to not take one’s self so seriously, using humor to lighten and brighten any situation.
  • Personal control: maintaining composure in the face of disappointment and unmet expectations, avoiding emotional reactivity.
  • Courage: to reach for more than before, to shift out of being fear-based in to being in abundance as a core strategy for success, to engage in continual self-examination, to overcome internal and external obstacles.

Measurement may be thought of in two distinct ways. First, there are the external indicators of performance: measures that can be seen and measured in the individual’s (or team’s) environment. Second, there are internal indicators of success: measures that are inherent within the individual or team members being coached and can be measured by the individual or team being coached with the support of the coach. Ideally, both external and internal metrics are incorporated.

Examples of external measures include achievement of coaching goals established at the outset of the coaching relationship, increased income/revenue, obtaining a promotion, performance feedback which is obtained from a sample of the individual’s constituents (e.g., direct reports, colleagues, customers, boss, the manager him/herself), personal and/or business performance data (e.g., productivity, efficiency measures). The external measures selected should ideally be things the individual is already measuring and are things the individual has some ability to directly influence.

Examples of internal measures include self-scoring/self-validating assessments that can be administered initially and at regular intervals in the coaching process, changes in the individual’s self-awareness and awareness of others, shifts in thinking that inform more effective actions, and shifts in one’s emotional state that inspire confidence.

Working with a coach requires both a personal commitment of time and energy as well as a financial commitment. Fees charged vary by specialty and by the level of experience of the coach. Individuals should consider both the desired benefits, as well as the anticipated length of time to be spent in coaching. Since the coaching relationship is predicated on clear communication, any financial concerns or questions should be voiced in initial conversations before the agreement is made. The ICF Coach Referral Service allows you to search for a coach based on a number of qualifications, including fee range.

Professional Coaching is a distinct service that focuses on an individual’s life as it relates to goal setting, outcome creation, and personal change management. In an effort to understand what a coach is, it can be helpful to distinguish coaching from other professions that provide personal or organizational support.

Therapy: Coaching can be distinguished from therapy in a number of ways. First, coaching is a profession that supports personal and professional growth and development based on individual-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is forward moving and future focused. Therapy, on the other hand, deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or a relationship between two or more individuals. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past which hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with present life and work circumstances in more emotionally healthy ways. Therapy outcomes often include improved emotional/feeling states. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability, and follow-through.

Consulting: Consultants may be retained by individuals or organizations for the purpose of accessing specialized expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, there is often an assumption that the consultant diagnoses problems and prescribes and sometimes implements solutions. In general, the assumption with coaching is that individuals (or teams) are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.

Mentoring: Mentoring, which can be thought of as guiding from one’s own experience or sharing of experience in a specific area of industry or career development, is sometimes confused with coaching. Although some coaches provide mentoring as part of their coaching, such as in mentor coaching new coaches, coaches are not typically mentors to those they coach.

Training: Training programs are based on the acquisition of certain learning objectives as set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum plan.

Athletic Development: Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from the traditional sports coach. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Professional coaches possess these qualities, but it is the experience and knowledge of the individual (or team) that determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunities for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.

To become an ADHD coach, it helps to be passionate about ADHD, but to be certified, you need training in both the field of ADHD and in general coaching skills. Certification requires a specified number of hours of training related to each field. This can be accomplished either through an ADHD coach training organization, or through general coach training combined with ADHD training. Go to the PAAC website to see complete training requirements, which include training by a mentor coach, achieving a certain number of “coaching experience” hours, and more.

*Adapted from ICF Branding and Marketing Subcommittee & PAAC. Updated: February 2022.

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