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When the New York Times published this article on ADHD life coaching and how it helps folks with ADHD function in a world that wasn’t designed for them, I did a little happy dance in my living room.
ADHD life coaching has really come into its own lately, so I thought it would be helpful to discuss the difference between an ADHD life coach and a regular life coach.
How an ADHD Life Coach is Different Than Other Coaches
From a training perspective, assuming the program each coach went through was accredited by the International Coaching Federation, then they both have the standard core competencies for coaching.
The main difference is that ADHD life coaches have additional training around the ADHD mind and have specific tools and systems for accommodating that population. ADHD coaches understand the differences in executive function that are common with ADHDers, such as managing focus, motivation, energy, planning, productivity, follow through and self regulation.
We still help our clients with the broader elements of life coaching, like finding and unblocking limiting beliefs, goal achievement, confidence, clarity and personal growth. But we leverage our additional skills, and typically life experience as a fellow ADHDer, to help clients manage ADHD symptoms and even thrive with it. A general life coach will not have the training to do this, even if they do have ADHD.
So, are ADHD Life Coaches Only Suited for ADHDers?
Not at all. Remember all those executive function skills I mentioned that were specific to ADHD training? Well, those are things that we all struggle with some times. Even the most neurotypical brains might struggle with motivation, energy management, productivity and follow through. I mean, hello – these are the struggles that define modern life, right?
So, ADHD coaches are trained to work with anyone who deals with these struggles, and help them to develop strategies for success.
The other key difference where an ADHD life coach can add tremendous value is to highlight where your ADHD is showing up in a limiting way, and how to manage for it. For example, if you are always feeling overwhelmed, they can help you pinpoint why your interest-driven brain keeps saying yes to things and adding more to your plate.
ADHD Life Coaching + “Living Up to Your Potential”
One of the most interesting commonalities amongst adhder’s is that we hold a belief that we’re not living up to our potential. Now, a regular life coach might help you build skills to achieve your potential, but what they don’t realize is that because ADHD brains are so diversified in their thoughts and ideas, there is no possible way they could live up to a fully realized potential, because the expectation is so vast.
The concept of potential is often one of the biggest Achilles heels for ADHDers, not only because we’re often too distracted to pour our energy into a single endeavor, but also because we don’t think about progress or success in a linear fashion. In fact, we don’t think about anything in a linear fashion, so it’s hard for us to conceptualize what “potential” even looks like. That said, there are a lot of steps that need to happen before the path to success is mapped out.
How to find the right Coach for you (ADHD or otherwise).
Whether or not you have ADHD, here’s what I’ve found to be helpful.
Look for a coach that resonates with you and that you will truly enjoy working with. The best coaching relationships stem from natural rapport and a feeling of safety and non-judgement.
Group ADHD Life Coaching vs 1-on-1
I have coached in both formats and I’ve also been a participant in both formats and I can say, hands down that group coaching is far more effective (this is just my opinion). Knowing you’re not alone in your struggles is a powerful thing, especially when it comes to ADHD. Also, hearing the common struggles of others articulated in different ways helps redefine and reframe what you struggle with.
One-to-one coaching between a coach and a client also has a lot of great benefits. It can be more effective for people who don’t feel comfortable in a group, or that need hands on, individualized support. However, you miss out on the energy and momentum of group dynamics, and it’s typically more expensive.
Teaching vs Coaching
If you want to learn how to do something, find a teacher. The great thing about the internet is that it has literally democratized learning. There’s so much you can learn just from watching youtube!
But coaching is about drawing out your inner knowledge and creating a roadmap towards an outcome that’s designed to compliment the individual’s strengths, needs, wants and values.
I draw this distinction because sometimes we’re not getting ahead because we don’t have the right skills or knowledge, in which case, we need to learn them. But if learning was the answer to all our problems, we’d all be rich & fit because we could just sign up for a course and lose weight or make a million dollars. But we all know, it doesn’t happen like that.
Most adults (generally) know the steps to achieve their goals, but they aren’t taking action on them for one reason or another. This is why learning isn’t the key to success, but taking action, even when the potential for failure is high, is the only way to succeed. In order to do that, you need support, confidence and a whole lot of belief in yourself. Personally, I don’t think you can get that from a course, unless it’s been specifically designed to help you coach yourself through a process.
So if you’re thinking about working with a coach or investing in a program, keep that idea in mind.
So that’s what I’ve got for you today. I hope it’s helpful! As you are probably aware, I’m also a trained adhd coach, so if you resonate with my energy and you think it would be fun to work with me, let’s see if we’re a good fit.