Tips & Coaching

ADHD Coaching: A Complete Guide to Avoiding Bad Eggs

ADHD coaching is unregulated and there is nothing forcing any coach to be distinguished, certified or even have lived experience. Here is how to Avoid a Bad Egg

As with everything in life, ADHD coaching is a mixed bag of results with some people seeing huge success and others feeling like they wasted money.

With education and awareness on the rise around ADHD, we thought it is important to look over the industry, what it entails, things to look out for in a quality coach and how you can avoid bad eggs out to make a quick buck from your struggles and challenges.

Unsure if you have ADHD yet? Take our ASRS v1.1 Adult ADHD Self-assessment for free.

What is ADHD Coaching?

ADHD coaching or mentoring is a specialized form of support specifically tailored for individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Coaching is designed to help those with ADHD navigate the unique challenges posed by their condition.

The focus of ADHD coaching is on building skills and taking action. Good coaching definitely helps people to improve their business focus, interpersonal skills and ability to get things done in such a way as to lead a more productive, fulfilling and rewarding life.” – Edward Hallowell, M.D.

Put simply, an ADHD coach helps you overcome your unique challenges with a tailored approach just for you.

What does a coach do?

ADHD coaches work closely with their clients to develop personalized strategies that address the core symptoms of ADHD, such as impulsivity, distractibility, and difficulties with time management and organization.

  • Assesses individual needs: An ADHD/ADD coach evaluates your unique challenges and strengths related to ADHD/ADD.
  • Develops personalized strategies: They create tailored plans focusing on organization, time management, and goal setting.
  • Improves executive functioning: The coach helps enhance skills like planning, prioritizing, and task initiation.
  • Offers emotional support: They provide encouragement and understanding, helping you navigate ADHD/ADD-related emotional challenges.
  • Teaches coping mechanisms: Coaches equip you with techniques to manage impulsivity, distraction, and hyperactivity.
  • Builds accountability: They help you stay on track with your goals and commitments through regular check-ins and support.
  • Enhances self-awareness: The coach aids in recognizing how ADHD/ADD affects various aspects of your life.
  • Facilitates skill acquisition: They assist in learning new skills and habits that improve daily functioning and productivity.
  • Provides resource guidance: Coaches guide you towards additional resources and tools beneficial for managing ADHD/ADD.
  • Empowers self-advocacy: They help you understand your rights and how to advocate for yourself in personal and professional settings.

Unlike traditional therapy, ADHD coaching is more action-oriented and goal-focused, emphasizing skill-building, accountability, and the development of routines and habits that support better management of ADHD symptoms.

ADHD Coaching: Does it work?

You may be at the start of your ADHD journey and asking yourself; “Does ADHD coaching actually work?”. The simple answer is yes. The more complicated answer is that it only works if you are willing to put in the work.

Turning to research and statistics can shed some light on the effectiveness of ADHD coaching, demonstrating its impact on those living with ADHD.

  1. Improvement in Executive Functioning: According to a study by the Edge Foundation, individuals who received ADHD coaching showed a 20% improvement in executive functioning skills. Source:
  2. Reduction in ADHD Symptoms: A research survey conducted by JST Coaching & Training revealed that 70% of students who underwent ADHD coaching experienced a reduction in core ADHD symptoms. Source:
  3. Increased Academic Performance: The same study by JST Coaching & Training found that 86% of students reported an improvement in academic performance after receiving ADHD coaching. Source:
  4. Enhanced Self-Regulation and Confidence: A report by ADDitude magazine indicated that individuals receiving ADHD coaching experienced significant improvements in self-regulation and self-confidence. Source:
  5. Better Time Management and Organization: In a survey by the ADHD Coaches Organization, 80% of clients reported improvements in time management and organizational skills after engaging in ADHD coaching. Source:

Before we continue, let’s really drill something home before you embark on this journey – ADHD Coaching is not a magical fix. You won’t turn up for a few sessions and magically your ADHD goes away. You already know that managing the intricacies and spectrum-like nature of ADHD on a day to day basis is hard but, stepping up, holding yourself accountable and not giving in will be the hardest thing you ever do.

Before investing your money (or the taxpayers) – make sure its something you are going to follow through with. A coaches aim is to provide you the tools and techniques to help you manage. Once you walk out of the door, it is on you to implement those techniques.

Traits of a Good Coach

how to spot a good adhd coach

A good ADHD coach is characterized by deep empathy and understanding of ADHD, enabling them to connect with and support their clients effectively. They also exhibit a structured approach, strong communication skills, and a focus on achieving tangible results, essential for guiding individuals with ADHD towards successful outcomes.

  • Look for Empathy and Understanding: A good ADHD coach should possess a deep understanding of ADHD and its varied manifestations. Empathy is key, as they need to relate to your experiences and struggles
  • Find a Structured Approach that works for you: Due to the nature of ADHD, a structured coaching plan that helps manage time and organize tasks is essential. A good coach will help you establish routines that aid in focusing and task completion.
  • Someone you can communicate with: Effective communication is vital. A coach should be able to clearly articulate strategies and feedback, ensuring that you understand and can apply their guidance.
  • Lived experience, Accreditations or an Educational Background: A proficient coach should demonstrate a track record of helping clients achieve tangible improvements in managing ADHD symptoms and reaching personal goals.

Warning Signs of a Bad Coach

how to spot a bad adhd coach

Rogue agents are everywhere in life. People masquerading as a professionals. Unfortunately, the ADHD/ADD coaching and mentoring world is full of people taking 6-week courses that require absolutely no vetting, call themselves neurodiversity guru’s and then proceed to try and teach a generic, one-size-fits-all approach which just doesn’t work

  • Lack of Accreditation: Be wary of coaches without any formal accreditation or training in ADHD coaching. This can be a red flag for lack of expertise.
  • One-Size-Fits-All Approach: Avoid coaches who apply the same methods to all clients. ADHD affects individuals differently, and coaching should be tailored to your specific needs.
  • Poor Communication: If a coach is consistently unclear in their guidance or fails to listen to your concerns, it may hinder your progress.
  • Unrealistic Promises: Be cautious of coaches who guarantee quick fixes. ADHD management is a journey and requires time and consistent effort.
  • Does not understand trauma: You should walk out of a coaching session feeling worse than you went in; This isn’t therapy. If this happens to you, the coach likely doesn’t have enough training and doesn’t understand trauma response in people living neurodiverse challenges – major red flag.

ADHD Coach vs. Therapist: What is the Difference?

You might be sat wondering to yourself, what is the difference between and ADHD coach and a Therapist? We don’t blame you. It is easy to think they do the same thing but there is a clear distinction between what an ADHD coach does and what a psychological therapist does and the challenges they help people overcome.

Here are some key differences;

Focus and Goals

ADHD coaching is action-oriented, focusing on developing strategies and skills to manage daily challenges associated with ADHD. Therapy, on the other hand, often delves into emotional and psychological exploration, addressing underlying issues and mental health concerns.


Coaches work on setting and achieving specific goals, building skills, and creating strategies for organization, time management, and productivity. Therapists may use various psychological methodologies to treat mental health conditions, exploring past experiences and emotional states.

Duration and Frequency

Coaching sessions may be more frequent and shorter in duration, focusing on immediate goals and strategies. Therapy sessions are typically longer and may occur less frequently, delving into deeper, long-term psychological work.

Training and Credentials

ADHD coaches often have specific training in coaching techniques and ADHD management, but they may not be licensed mental health professionals. Therapists are usually licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, or counsellors with training in mental health disorders.

Scope of Practice

Coaches focus on skill-building and practical aspects of living with ADHD. Therapists are qualified to diagnose and treat mental health disorders, providing a broader scope of emotional and psychological support.

Approach to ADHD

ADHD coaching is specifically tailored to the challenges of ADHD, working on coping mechanisms and daily functioning. Therapy may address ADHD as part of a broader exploration of an individual’s mental health.

ADHD Coaching Accreditations Explained

Finding a coach with ADHD certification can be crucial when it comes to your success. Certifications from recognized bodies, like the International Coach Federation (ICF), Professional Association of ADHD Coaches (PAAC) or the ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) ensure that coaches have undergone rigorous training and adhere to a professional standard, providing assurance of their expertise in ADHD-specific strategies and interventions.

ADHD coaching accreditations

With all this speak of coaching, what accreditations are worth entertaining? Which accreditations are worth their salt?

ADDCA: ADD Coach Academy

The ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) is recognized as the first and largest comprehensive ADHD Coach Training Program, fully accredited by both the International Coach Federation (ICF) at Levels 1 and 2 and the Professional Association of ADHD Coaches (PAAC) with the ADHD Coach Training Program (AACTP) accreditation

Founded in 1998 by David Giwerc, MCAC, MCC, and his business partner and wife, Marla Young Giwerc (Director of Operations), the ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) is an internationally recognized, accredited training program with students participating from all over North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. source

ADDCA’s coaches meet stringent training requirements and demonstrate a thorough understanding of the coaching competencies set by governing bodies like PAAC and ICF. The academy provides comprehensive, long-distance training for both new and experienced coaches, focusing on empowering adults and children with ADD/ADHD.

ICF International Coach Federation Certification

Additionally, the International Coach Federation (ICF) is noted as a pioneering and globally recognized coach credentialing organization. An ICF credential is considered a gold standard in the coaching profession, signalling professionalism, a certain amount of coach-specific training, mentoring, client coaching hours, and a rigorous testing process.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization for coaches and coaching. ICF is dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals source

The ICF credential is valued for promoting professionalism and marketability in coaching, and it requires renewal every three years with proof of continued education in coaching. The organization also offers additional benefits, including access to conferences, research, and a referral service, making it a vital credential for those serious about a coaching career​

PAAC: Professional Association of ADHD Coaches

The PAAC accreditation acts as a layer on top of ICF. By default a core required of the PAAC is to be ICF registered which, as mentioned earlier requires a renewal every 3 years. PAAC-certified coaches have met specific training requirements in both general coaching and the specialty field of ADHD coaching, ensuring a high level of expertise.

A PAAC certification indicates a coach has met coach-specific training requirements as specified by ICF, and also has met training requirements in the specialty field of ADHD coaching. The case for getting an ICF credential: The ICF is the original coach credentialing organization source

Coaches certified by PAAC have gone through rigorous training and have demonstrated their expertise in ADHD coaching, ensuring that they are well-equipped to offer effective support and guidance. This makes PAAC an important resource for anyone looking for qualified and skilled ADHD coaches, who are trained to understand and effectively assist with the unique challenges of ADHD.

Lived-experience Coaching

We believe that lived experience based ADHD coaching offers an invaluable perspective, as they have personally navigated the obstacles and challenges of ADHD and are capable of emphasising deeply, offering insights and solutions grounded in real-world understanding and experience. Personally, as I write this, I have been through countless coaches and sadly to say, none of them fit the bill for me except for one that had a background is psychology, had personal lived experience of all of my challenges as well as accreditations to back up her skillset.

Combine Lived-experience with Accreditations

The combination of formal certification and personal experience equips coaches with a comprehensive toolkit to effectively address the unique challenges faced by neurodiverse individuals with ADHD, ADD in a world that is design for neurotypical people. Choosing the right ADHD coach can significantly impact your journey towards managing your unique set of challenges effectively.


By understanding the importance of accreditations, lived experience, recognizing the qualities of a good coach, and being aware of the red flags of a bad coach, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

Remember, the path to managing ADHD and the dysfunctions that go with it are unique for each individual and the right coach can make all the difference between navigating ADHD/ADD with confidence and clarity or feeling like a complete failure.

Andy Cresswell

Andy is the founder at Thruday. His research combined first and third-hand lived experience living with neurodivergent challenges drives us forward. He is passionate about spreading awareness around neurodiversity and developing neuro-friendly technology that is accessible and easy to use.

ADHD, Autism, Epilepsy, Coaching, Therapy, How-to Articles

Neurodiversity in the spotlight

Learn about adhd, autism, epilepsy, dyspraxia and beyond.