According to the American Psychiatric Association, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 8.4 percent of children and 2.5 percent of adults.
Families living with ADHD can sometimes feel overwhelmed, disorganized, and out of sorts, especially when it comes to the day-to-day operations of life. And whether you have one child with ADHD or three, coming up with a system that works for everyone is no easy feat.
That’s why some families are looking for outside resources. You may have heard about ADHD coaches. These coaches advertise that they can help with strategies and tools that address organization, time management, goal-setting, and other skills needed to carry out practical activities of daily life.
Curious if an ADHD coach is right for your family? Read on to learn more.
ADHD coaching is a relatively new idea. It’s important to be aware that there’s currently no formal regulation of the role, so technically, anyone can advertise themselves as an ADHD coach.
At the same time, there are organizations that offer training and certifications. If you’re seeking a coach, it’s important to request their training and experience in order to know what qualifications they actually possess.
Additionally, some trained psychologists and therapists specialize in this area and offer ADHD coaching services. As such, the services an ADHD coach offers can vary widely. It’s essential to consider the experience and qualifications of the coach before deciding to work with them.
While there’s a great range in experience and qualifications, there are some general areas that most coaches touch on in their offerings.
ADHD coaches focus on building skills and providing support for families, with the goal of empowering the child and other family members to make changes that will positively impact their lives. Unless they have additional training, simply being an ADHD coach does not mean someone is a therapist, nor do they provide psychotherapy or educational and psychological testing.
On the other hand, some therapists and psychologists offer ADHD coaching as part of their services. So, it’s worth asking about credentials if you’re looking for someone who’s licensed to provide mental health or academic testing.
ADHD coaches primarily serve adults and college students. But more families are accessing services to help with younger kids and teens.
According to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD coaches target specific core impairments like organization, time management, problem-solving, and goal setting. They may also help with coping skills, emotional regulation, and with parents on how to work with their child, though this should be done with the assistance of a licensed psychologist or therapist.
Part of a coach’s role is to educate families on ADHD and establish a collaborative working environment that puts the coach in the role of a facilitator. It also creates a non-judgmental environment that allows all family members to be heard.
This resource can be a big help to families who already have a doctor, psychologist, or licensed therapist overseeing a treatment plan and just need someone to help them implement the treatment plan on a day-to-day basis.
Rebecca Tolbert, LICSW, a therapist and ADHD coach, says an ADHD coach can be extremely helpful for some families.
“A medication-only approach to ADHD can help the child while they are medicated, but it doesn’t teach them skills to succeed after the meds wear off or how to manage themselves should they decide to stop taking medication later in life,” she said.
Some coaches work with families in person at their office or via online appointments, while others may be willing to come to your house so they can get a better feel for the home environment and how ADHD might be impacting day-to-day routines.
As previously noted, not all ADHD coaches are psychologists, behavioral interventionists, therapists, or social workers. In addition, some only have training in coaching, making them limited in the types of services they can provide compared to a therapist or psychologist who’s also an ADHD coach.
Without additional training, they’re limited to non-therapeutic activities like helping the child practice planning and monitoring completion of short and long-term tasks.
ADHD coaching is a relative newcomer to the helping professions.
Although the formal ADHD diagnosis has been recognized for several decades, the idea of hiring a coach to help families find more structure and success with daily routines, impulsivity, inattention, home and school tasks, and overall self-confidence is just beginning to catch on. Because of this, finding a reputable coach takes a bit of super sleuth work on your part.
Tolbert points out that the coaching world can be tough to navigate since there are so many different certifications that exist. But there’s no standard coaching board. Because of this, she leans toward coaches who have other qualifications, like therapists, social workers, and psychologists.
Rebecca Mannis, PhD, Learning Specialist at Ivy Prep Learning Center, agrees and says there’s been a proliferation of companies and professionals claiming to do ADHD coaching. Still, ADHD coaching is largely an unlicensed field.
But Mannis says this doesn’t mean that an ADHD coach can’t be helpful. It’s important to find out about a coach’s actual qualifications and specific experience to make sure it’s the right match for you or your child.
“For example, some kids appear to need help with time management when it comes to writing because they are avoidant and procrastinate, so it’s important to determine the root cause of the avoidance,” she said.
If a child cannot comprehend what they are reading and therefore can’t organize and outline, Mannis says they need to work with someone trained in reading issues and connecting note-taking to developing a project plan.
“Just focusing on motivation or whether to write the paper before or after soccer practice won’t do the trick,” she said.
ADHD coaching is not covered by health insurance, so you can expect to pay 100 percent out-of-pocket for all expenses. Session fees vary and depend largely on other qualifications. In general, coaching can run from $75 to $250 per 1-hour session.
- ADHD Coaches Organization has an online directory to help you find a coach by location.
- International Coach Federation lists coaches with various training by location on their directory.
- ADD Coach Academy features coaches vetted by their organization. They list bios and contact information for ADDCA-certified coaches.
- Professional Association for ADHD Coaches provides an online directory with names, email, location websites, and phone numbers of ADHD coaches.
- Your pediatrician, psychologist, or therapist may have connections or information on coaches they suggest.
Once you determine a few options, take some time to meet with prospective coaches and ask some questions to see if they’re a good fit for your family. A few questions you may want to ask include:
- what type of training/experience do you have?
- do you often work with children/teens/families?
- how long are sessions?
- how are sessions conducted (in-person, online, in a group)?
- how many sessions are typically needed?
Hiring an ADHD coach to help navigate daily routines is one tool available in your ADHD toolbox. While a coach cannot provide therapy or special education services, they can offer support and strategies for managing daily life.
If you’re unsure about the role an ADHD coach can play in your life, talk with your pediatrician, family physician, or therapist. They can help you decide if this will be beneficial for your family.