How to Become an ADHD Coach: 5 Coaching Organizations

ADHD CoachThe latest figures suggest that around 1 in 20 people globally have ADHD, although far fewer are actively diagnosed (Asherson et al., 2022).

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been vastly underdiagnosed in women and girls, and many women are receiving a diagnosis after having their children diagnosed during midlife (Davis & Hill, 2023).

ADHD is characterized by neurodevelopmental differences in executive functioning, including working memory, cognitive processing, self-regulation, sensory processing, attention, and inhibitory control (Aherne, 2023). Some ADHDers manage by adapting their lifestyle to accommodate these differences with the help of a coach.

An ADHD coach supports their clients to focus on their strengths, learn new skills, and make lifestyle changes that accommodate their unique differences. They can also help families and workplaces do the same.

This article explains the varied routes to becoming an ADHD coach, including training programs and certifications.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Strengths Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help your clients realize their unique potential and create a life that feels energizing and authentic.

What Is an ADHD Coach?

An ADHD coach is often someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD themselves and offers coaching based on their lived experience of overcoming the challenges associated with the neurotype (Ahmann et al., 2018).

In addition, most ADHD coaches have specific training and expertise in coaching people affected by ADHD. These training options will be discussed in more detail further below.

But before we jump to that, let’s look at the occurrence of ADHD. Given the recent rise in awareness of neurodiversity and the reduced stigma attached to a diagnosis of ADHD, many adults are enquiring about the condition and seeking a formal diagnosis (Lauder et al., 2022).

Self-diagnosis with online screening tests is on the rise as well, as people simply don’t want to wait to see a psychiatrist when they read about ADHD traits and check most of the boxes (Lauder et al., 2022). For that reason, ADHD coaches offer services to diagnosed and self-diagnosed adults, children, and sometimes family members and partners.

They may also offer co-coaching to clients with workplace supervisors to facilitate accommodations that can help optimize a client’s productivity and thrive at work (Lauder et al., 2022).

How it works is that an ADHD coach will initially provide psychoeducation to clients and their families to help them better understand their ADHD. This includes identifying their unique strengths and challenges. A coach will then equip the client with the skills and strategies they need to achieve their goals.

It is a collaborative, solution-focused, goal-oriented process. ADHD coaching is client centered, client driven, and confidential (Ahmann et al., 2019).

Importantly, ADHD coaches regard each client as a creative and resourceful person, rather than somebody with a medical condition comprising a range of problems and deficits.

An ADHD coach uses a strengths-based approach to facilitate each client’s development of self-awareness and self-identified goals. This provides structure, support, and accountability during the client’s coaching journey (Boissiere, 2018).

Everything You Need to Know About ADHD Coaching

ADHD Life CoachThis section explores the role of an ADHD coach in more detail by responding to some common questions about the type of service offered, to whom, and the scope of practice of the ADHD life coach.

How is ADHD coaching different from therapy or counseling?

Coaching, counseling, and therapy differ in the following three ways:

1. Purpose and focus

ADHD coaching typically focuses on psychoeducation, goal setting, skill building, and devising strategies to overcome challenges that prevent clients with ADHD from pursuing or achieving their goals (Kubik, 2010).

However, counseling and therapy explore patterns of thinking, feeling and behavior, often with roots in trauma, to alleviate poor mental health.

2. Training

Most ADHD coaches train in coaching skills or on specialized programs. However, there is no standardized accreditation process, and many ADHD coaches offer peer coaching based on their lived experience.

Meanwhile, counselors must hold a degree in counseling, and psychotherapists must undertake extensive clinical training.

3. Scope of practice

ADHD coaching focuses on skill building and goal achievement, while counseling and therapy aim to heal psychological distress and mental health problems.

ADHD is a neurotype, not a transitional life situation or mental health problem, although both may arise alongside ADHD as they can with any human being.

What is an ADHD life coach?

While some ADHD coaches have a specialty, such as education or the workplace, ADHD life coaches work with their clients across all life domains (Caulfield, 2023).

ADHD life coaches work to maximize their clients’ strengths by developing strategies, tools, and techniques to manage a range of challenges associated with ADHD.

Some key aspects include:

  1. Psychoeducation
    Educating clients and family members about the neurobiological basis of the strengths and challenges associated with ADHD
  2. Goal setting and accountability
    An ADHD life coach will collaborate with a client to help them identify life goals, break them down into manageable steps, and keep them on track until they have been achieved.
  3. Skill development
    ADHD life coaches teach clients practical life skills and strategies to manage ADHD effectively. This may include organizational techniques, time management strategies, task prioritization, and regulating attention to prevent cycles of hyperfocus and burnout.
  4. Emotional support and coping strategies
    Living with ADHD is challenging. ADHD life coaches offer emotional support and validation to their clients by helping them develop coping skills to navigate the feelings of frustration, overwhelm, and self-doubt often associated with ADHD.
  5. Advocacy
    ADHD life coaches may advocate for their clients’ needs in various settings, such as college or workplace environments. They can also advocate for clients with other agencies, such as health care providers and welfare services, to ensure clients get the support they need.

Who is ADHD coaching for?

ADHD coaching is for clients who have been diagnosed with or suspect that they may have ADHD and their family members.

Here are some specific groups of individuals who may benefit from ADHD coaching:

  1. Children and adolescents
    ADHD coaching can help children and teenagers develop skills to overcome their challenges and succeed in academic, social, and extracurricular activities.
  2. College students
    Many college students with ADHD struggle with the demands of higher education. ADHD coaching can provide college students with strategies to navigate the challenges of college life and achieve academic success.
  3. Adults in the workplace
    ADHD coaching can help adults develop strategies to manage their work responsibilities effectively, manage stress, and navigate workplace relationships successfully.
  4. Parents of children with ADHD
    Parents of children with ADHD may benefit from coaching to learn effective parenting strategies, improve communication with their child, and manage the stress associated with raising a child with ADHD.

In each of these cases, ADHD coaching will help improve the clients’ quality of life, manage their ADHD more effectively, and achieve their full potential.

The National Resource Center on ADHD also provides this handy guide, with even more information.

Download 3 Free Strengths Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to discover and harness their unique strengths.

How to Become an ADHD Coach

Becoming an ADHD coach typically involves a combination of education, training, and practical experience. Here are the general steps to becoming an ADHD coach:

1. Professional qualification

While there is no specific educational requirement to become an ADHD coach, having a background in psychology, counseling, social work, education, or a related helping profession is really useful.

2. Lived experience

ADHD coaches often have ADHD themselves or have a partner or children with ADHD. This means many ADHD coaches can empathize deeply with their clients and have overcome similar challenges.

3. Training programs

Training programs specifically focused on ADHD coaching provide in-depth education on ADHD, coaching principles, and techniques tailored to working with individuals with ADHD. See more in the section below.

4. Continuing education and professional development

You can often build on your existing competencies by following the latest research, trends, and best practices in ADHD coaching through professional development activities. This may include attending workshops, conferences, and continuing education courses related to ADHD coaching.

By taking these steps, you can become equipped to support your clients in achieving their goals and improving their quality of life. For more information, take a look at this video by ADHD coach Brett Thornhill.

How to ADHD and Brett 2.0 on the pillars for ADHD success

What Is It Like to Be an ADHD Coach?

Jo NashBesides writing, I coach neurodivergent adults, including autistic people and those diagnosed or self-diagnosed with ADHD. I’m neurodistinct and have a combination of characteristics found in dyspraxic and ADHD neurotypes.

My unique combination of strengths and challenges led me to adapt my lifestyle to accommodate my differences. Now I help others do the same as an ADHD coach.

My qualifications include a PhD in psychotherapy studies, training in two mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral interventions (acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy), and positive psychology interventions, including identifying strengths and solution-focused coaching.

Typically, I coach clients online at home using video calls and see up to four clients a day. My day is structured around my circadian rhythms to play to my strengths. I write in the mornings when I’m most focused, followed by a three-hour break when I exercise, meditate, and rest. I coach in the late afternoons and evenings, when I’m again at my most attentive.

When coaching, I draw on a combination of skills, knowledge, and lived experience to empower and validate my ADHD clients. Each client has unique strengths and challenges. Most often, I support them with identifying their strengths, setting goals, learning self-regulation skills, maintaining motivation, and organizing and planning.

Many clients also struggle with being misunderstood in their relationships. The difficulties that those with ADHD face frequently disrupt personal relationships (Caulfield, 2023). Most have internalized a harsh inner critic that is invalidating and demotivating. Research indicates that those with ADHD grow up being accused of being disruptive, lazy, and naughty more so than their neurotypical peers (Aherne, 2023).

Consequently, young people with ADHD often develop rejection sensitivity and are more likely to drop out of school and college in the face of criticism or implied failure. Adults are more likely to suddenly leave jobs for the same reason or due to burnout (Caulfield, 2023).

I also support my clients playing to their strengths in their working life and career choices. My ADHD clients are often very creative and talented but battle with swings in energy and motivation, accompanied by a ruthless inner critic. My clients benefit from learning self-compassion strategies to develop self-efficacy and greater confidence in their abilities.

This TEDx talk by George Cicci exemplifies why it’s so fulfilling to be an ADHD coach. When clients learn how to harness their strengths and use them to overcome challenges, some begin to see their ADHD as a superpower.

Making ADHD your superpower - George Cicci

Notable List of ADHD Coaching Organizations

The most sought-after ADHD coaches often offer coaching based on their lived experience with ADHD, additional coaching skill training, and a qualification as a helping professional such as a counselor, educator, coach, nurse, psychologist, psychotherapist, or social worker.

They may not hold any specific license but will have to have enhanced background checks to ensure they are safe to practice as a coach with vulnerable adults and children and to obtain the required insurance.

However, if you are searching for training programs or a directory of ADHD coaches, you can consult the organizations below. Licensed coaches are more likely to be working in the United States or Canada, where ADHD coaching is much more established.

1. ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO)

ACO InternationalThe ACO is a global professional membership organization that campaigns for international professional standards and ethical conduct in ADHD coaching.

It provides a range of public support groups and workshops, coaching events, conferences and a directory of ACO-recognized practitioners.

However, this list is by no means exhaustive, as there is no internationally accredited pathway to becoming an ADHD coach.

ACO also provides a list of recognized training programs.

2. The Professional Association for ADHD Coaches (PAAC)

PaacThe PAAC offers similar resources to ACO but is linked to specific pathways through the US higher education system.

However, you can still obtain a PAAC credential by adhering to one of their alternative pathways.

Most of the coaches in the directory are in the United States and Canada.

3. ADDCA ADD Coach Academy

AADCAADDCA claims to be the first life and ADHD coaching training program to be accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and offers ADHD coaching training through a range of courses and pathways.

Like ACO and PAAC above, it also offers a directory of ICF-accredited ADHD coaches.

ADDCA also offers online education courses for those with ADHD and their families.

4. ADHD Coaches UK

ADHDCoachesUKADHD Coaches UK provides a small directory of ADHD coaches practicing in the United Kingdom who have trained with ADDCA in the United States.

They do not offer any UK-specific training options but serve as a directory for the public to find certified ADHD coaches in the United Kingdom.

5. ADHD Coaches Australasia

ADHD Coaches AustralasiaADHD Coaches Australasia provides a directory of ICF-accredited ADHD coaches working in Australia and New Zealand who have completed recognized ADHD coach training.

For those residing in Australasia who want to pursue training or get listed in their directory, you can find the details by scrolling to the bottom of their website.

Finally, if you want to pursue training in a language other than English, you can search online for “ADHD coach training” in your country of origin.

Further options

Many of the most successful ADHD coaches have active social media pages, blogs and podcasts that can also be found by searching LinkedIn for “ADHD coach” under “People.”

Many ADHD coaches will have gained experience by working for an organization that offers coaching to clients and families living with ADHD and will have completed specific in-house training, casework supervision, and ongoing professional development. The pathways are varied and differ from country to country.

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Resources From PositivePsychology.com

Here at PositivePsychology.com, we have a range of resources that ADHD coaches may find useful.

Firstly, check out my article on Neurodiversity in the Workplace to find out about the best career options for a client with ADHD.

Next, we have other articles that are useful for ADHD coaches:

We also have some free downloadable worksheets, including the following:

Coping: Stressors and Resources will help your client identify their stressors and coping strategies when facing challenges. Clients with ADHD are often great at helping others in a crisis but can forget their resources when facing their own problems. Having a record helps!

I Will Survive is a great aid for remembering self-compassion and social support when dealing with a relentless inner critic, a common problem for those with ADHD.

Skills for Regulating Emotions is a worksheet that helps to deal with the tendency to focus on the negative and rejection sensitivity that can lead to emotionally dysregulated, impulsive behavior in ADHD clients.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others develop their strengths, check out this collection of 17 strength-finding tools for practitioners. Use them to help others better understand and harness their strengths in life-enhancing ways.

A Take-Home Message

ADHD coaching is a recognized collaborative intervention that helps develop the self-awareness, skills, and resources of clients with ADHD. Many ADHD coaches draw on their own lived experience of the neurotype, or as parents and relatives of those with ADHD.

Positive psychology tools such as strengths assessments, the exploration and mapping of valued life domains, goal setting, building self-care strategies, and developing positive communication skills are essential to the success of ADHD coaching.

While ADHD coaching qualifications are widely available in the United States, many coaches working in other countries will have other types of professional and coaching qualifications, as well as professional experience working with clients with ADHD.

Feel free to share other ADHD coaching programs in the comments.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Strengths Exercises for free.

  • Aherne, D. (2023). The pocket guide to neurodiversity. Jessica Kingsley.
  • Ahmann, E., Smith, K., Ellington, L., & Pille, R. O. (2019). Health and wellness coaching and psychiatric care collaboration in a multimodal intervention for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A case report. The Permanente Journal, 24(18), Article 256.
  • Ahmann, E., Tuttle, L. J., Saviet, M, & Wright, S. D. (2018). A descriptive review of ADHD coaching research: Implications for college students. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 31(1), 17–39.
  • Asherson, P., Leaver, L., Adamou, M., Arif, M., Askey, G., Butler, M., Cubbin, S., Newlove-Delgado, T., Kustow, J., Lanham-Cook, J., Findlay, J., Maxwell, J., Mason, P., Read, H., van Rensburg, K., Müller-Sedgwick, U., Sedgwick-Müller, J., & Skirrow, C. (2022). Mainstreaming adult ADHD into primary care in the UK: Guidance, practice, and best practice recommendations. BMC Psychiatry, 22, Article 640.
  • Boissiere, P (2018). Thriving with adult ADHD: Skills to strengthen executive functioning. Althea Press.
  • Caulfield, C. (2023). Executive functioning workbook for adults with ADHD: 8 days to strengthen focus, organization, working memory and emotional control. Author.
  • Davis, S. & Hill, L. (2023). ADHD Toolkit for women: Workbook & guide to overcome ADHD challenges and win at life. Peak Publish.
  • Kubik, J. A. (2010). Efficacy of ADHD coaching for adults With ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 13(5), 442–453.
  • Lauder, K., McDowall, A., & Tenenbaum, H. R. (2022). A systematic review of interventions to support adults with ADHD at work-Implications from the paucity of context-specific research for theory and practice. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, Article 893469.

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