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Can We Trust an ADHD Coach? My Nightmare at ADDCA

November 6, 2020
Original Image by Gpoint Studio

I am seriously worried about neurodivergents relying on ADHD coaches. I took a course at a well-known academy (“Simply ADHD”, at ADDCA) to start pursuing a certification on ADHD coaching, and I finished it feeling I had been scammed. To sum it up, during that course:

  1. The needs of my brain weren’t considered;
  2. My interest was put the test; 
  3. I was discouraged; 
  4. I received wrong information, wrong teachings
  5. and at the end, how naive did they think I was?

Since hiring an ADHD coach seems to be in vogue, I must consider there are good, great coaches helping neurodivergents to thrive. So I wonder, who can we trust when the places training them seem to be unworthy of our trust?

What’s an ADHD coach

There’s an article from ADDitude magazine[1], which I read after having taken the course, that opened my eyes wider on what an ADHD coach is; regarding on how to choose one, it quotes Harold Meyer saying “You need to be an educated consumer;” which leads me to think: “consumer equals business.”

An ADHD coach, who is only an ADHD coach: is not a therapist, doctor, specialist nor expert; an ADHD coach is simply a person who knows about ADHD, have strategies to cope with it and knows how to share it with others. He or she will ask us about what we need (a goal or a small objective) and help us to achieve it.

A “certified” ADHD coach, on the other hand, is someone who has followed a program (series of course) which is endorsed by an organization; in the case of ADDCA, the International Coach Federation (ICF) is the one behind it.

So I wonder, if the course I took has given wrong information: how much can we trust ADDCA and the coaches who have trained at it? How much can we trust the ICF; doesn’t it keep track of how those programs evolve or not? 

My Experience With the Simply ADHD Course at ADDCA

No help. Before the course started, I received a PDF manual which I couldn’t read due its legibility colliding with my capricious brain. I explained to them that I would need another font [2] and I asked for non-password protected file so I could fix it and read it; I received a “no” and an epic fail attempt to provide me with some help.[3]

Terrible Platform. They use Blue Jeans for the sessions, which is a platform like Zoom that shouldn’t be in the market; I would get one red bar of connectivity, which meant: no one could hear me if I wanted to speak. Furthermore, it was so user unfriendly, that one of the coaches resigned because no one had helped her to learn how to show slides. (I missed you, Michelle)

Outdated Library. I’ve been working on line for decades, so I can tell you that trying to find something in the library they offer was worst that searching on Yahoo before the Google era. It is so bad, so bad, that the coach that remained in the sessions had to send us a dropbox link to download the files we needed to read (files that, by the way, weren’t organized, classified or properly entitled)

Wrong information. The “copyrighted manual” (which doesn’t provide citations and even has erroneous references) has wrong information, specially on neuroscience. An example? I mentioned a couple in “What You Are Reading About ADHD Could Be Dangerous.”[4]

No consideration of ADHD struggles. I’d say 90% of the students had ADD/ADHD and the coaches seemed to be very understanding… during the sessions. After them, we’d receive long e-mails (adding more information, insights and etc) which didn’t have subheadings, bullets nor anything that could help us with their legibility. It was painful to read them, they would take a lot of our time … and, as a matter of fact, there were complaints.

Take my interest and smash it. Due to complaints, the very own author of the manual started sending emails telling us that we didn’t need to read it all, because we would see everything at the session. Then, she started asking those of us who had participated to “hold back” so others could participate too.

Personally, if I can’t participate – engage – in a class, I can’t maintain my attention; and, if an author is telling me that I don’t need to read her book, I won’t.

BUT, what a tricky thing happened at the end…

Inaccurate certificate? By the end of the course, we were reminded that we needed to “pass” with an 80% a “module review” which was “not a test” in order to obtain the certificate. So, suddenly I found myself with need to finish reading the 350 pages which I had been discouraged by the author to read; which I even had chosen to stop reading due to how bad it was.

They told us we had a month to do the “module review,” but I didn’t have an extra month because “I can plan;” so, I hyperfocused draining my brain to point of inhuman exhaustion, and passed the test only to receive a certificate that states:

“The ADD Coach Academy confirms that this student has completed 19.5 hours of Coach-Specific Training in Core Competencies, without testing (…).” 

And this really pushed me to edge; I have a B. Ed but please correct me if I’m wrong: if one needs to “pass” a test, it is a test and not a review; if it’s open book, like this one was, it’s a “comprehension test.” So I wonder, what’s the deal with this?

I wrote to ADDCA’s Student Services about this; every time I asked them for information to sign up for another course I would get a reply right away; but not this time. After having complained about what the certificate states, I heard crickets… and I have been doing so for a month. Hashtag “Business.”

Who Can We Trust?

During the course, I had so many questions regarding the wrong information and missing references, that I developed a forum for my classmates at this blog; I was trying to give them a hint of what was actually happening … but I believe I failed. And this is one of the main reasons why I’m sharing this experience.

I even asked the author of the manual for references and she replied, “Why do you think you need them?“… Why do “I think” I need them… Funny…

Just in case someone complains about me quoting a “private email”, note that I will reply: “I bought a product for over 600 dollars; and it was not what I expected; customer support doesn’t get not even one star.”

If it weren’t for the research I do and the classes on neuroscience I’m taking with my doctor (who’s not only a psychiatrist specialized in neuroscience and ADHD, but also a professor) I wouldn’t have noticed ADDCA’s wrong teachings and… What kind of coach would I have become?

When I wrote the “manual brain metaphor” [5] I said that an ADHD coach is a neuro-instructor; well, strike that. For what I’ve learned, there are ADHD coaches who can be dangerous and, hopefully – somewhere outside ADDCA – there are the “neuro-instructors” we need.

Even though this was a nightmare, I always try to find a bright side of everything; so, I’ll simply finish with one last thing: at one of the classes, the coach told us that ADHDers are easily scammed. So, do you know what? I am grateful for having had an example of how it feels like. What a wonderful learning experience this was.

Confused couple selecting ADHD coach training courses ADHD Coach Training Path: Understanding Their History and Schema - Where to find ADHD Coach Training Courses; how to select a path towards a certification; how to become an ADHD coach on your own.

Laly York. B.Ed. Lawyer. Writer / Researcher. ADHD advocate
Developer and author of the blogs "Neurodivergent", "NKOTB" and "Laly's."

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17 comments

  1. Really curious about this experience. I’ve been on the fence for a while and just can’t find the right training company for this certification. I went to a seminar to learn more about it and the style wasn’t for me. However, most reviews are very good -yours has me intrigued…

    1. Hi Daniela,
      welcome!
      You know, I wrote a journal that I didn’t post yet regarding my experience; it just makes me sick to my stomach to recall the experience.
      I tried other academies, and the story ends up being the same.
      There’s a lot to say, which I couldn’t resume in a comment.. but I’ll continue posting about this.
      Just bear in mind that those “certifications” don’t come from an Institution that depends from the State.

      You can be an awesome coach without them.
      You don’t need a certification to be a coach.
      Just dig into the books, the research, your own experience.

      I hope you stick around for more!

  2. I’ve been trying to understand the ADDCA programs, but have been frustrated by the lack of real, useful information that describes how they really work.

    I’ve watched all the ADDCA promo videos, along with one somewhat tedious long-form video by the founder. I watched a dozen or so testimonial videos from people who are certainly enamored by the program, but in vague ways that, to me, don’t have much to do with helping other people. Sorry to say, but some of it feels almost cultish.

    Now, granted, I’ve never been good at dealing with the dogma of educational systems (especially proprietary ones), so I tend to react badly when I’m presented with this kind of thing.

    I’ve found a few other reviews besides your blog, but they are a little too ‘glowy’ — certainly nothing else critical. Honestly, at this point, I’m wondering what any of these training programs would really give me. Anyone have a good answer?

    1. Hi John…curious what you are thinking of doing with the program once completed? I can maybe help with an answer to what the program might offer to you with this extra info. I know some people are already therapists, etc. and are getting a coaching certificate to add to their business. Others are looking to switch gears and start their own business without being a therapist. Still others might be taking classes for more self understanding or to help a loved one. I’m on the fence as I’ve mentioned -this is a really difficult decision.

  3. Hi -I’m back! I abandoned this once again for a while but in helping my son with ADHD and looking for a new career with purpose, I find myself researching again. I did attend a seminar twice for ADDCA (two different years) and the communication style just wasn’t what I needed. I really do not like that the ADD is only referenced too -that has been out the window forever. Hoping I can make the right decision…

    1. Hi Daniela! I’m back too! 🙃
      I’m so sorry I couldn’t reply sooner.
      For what you say, I wonder, Do you have ADHD? If you don’t or don’t know: did you know that ADHD runs in families? If your son has ADHD, you or his dad may be ADHD too.
      That being said, there’s a test you can take – on your own – to help you screen if you’re ADHD; from that point on, you could make a consult with a doctor.
      I’ll make that test available here as soon as I can.
      Last but not least, here are two posts I thing you may enjoy to help you reflect on your purpose.
      How to Find a Purpose in Life
      How to Find Our Inner Voice: The “Top-Down” and “Bottom-up” Processing
      Warmly, Laly

      1. Hi Laly,
        Thank you so much for your candid and honest review of the program. I’m currently trying to find a good ADHD coaching program myself and was looking at ADDCA and iACTcenter. What programs do you recommend or have heard sound promising? I also feel jaded by institutionized education and don’t want to pay into something just to get those credentials after my name. Please please share your thoughts on better programs or courses. Thank you!

  4. So I’ve been thinking of doing the ADDCa course and came across this review, which makes me anxious. I’m a qualified social worker and was looking at doing this to specialise supporting families who experience challenges that come with ADHD…. does anyone recommend an alternative to this course? I’m a very evidence based kind of practitioner (which one would hope in a social worker) so I don’t want to throw my money away for something that isn’t up to scratch!

  5. It’s a shame you didn’t feel well served but I have to comment that the Simply ADHD course is not intended as any kind of coaching qualification, and it’s repeated throughout the class too.

    1. Hi Katherine!
      Of course it is a shame what I went through…
      Now, regarding what you say about the course not being intended as “coaching qualification”, I believe you misunderstood what I wrote… or even how the certification process works
      1) I wrote, and I quote, that the certificate I received says “… this student has completed 19.5 hours of Coach-Specific Training in Core Competencies, without testing (…).” and there was a test.
      2) The course is in fact part of a program, and those hours I completed, I can use them at their Academy or another one; they do count.
      I believe you had a good experience, and I’m glad you did.
      But it is not a course nor an academy, nor even a path, I would recommend to become an ADHD coach
      Maybe this post will clarify more all of this:
      ADHD Coach Training Path: Understanding Their History and Schema
      Welcome to the blog and, I hope you stick around!
      xo

  6. Hi there,
    I am an Coach of adults with ADHD – and am so sceptical of the coach training and certification “industry”. I am seeking a certification route, but:
    a. I am based in UK, so as I find every qualification programme is US based, the timings of course elements could be prohibitive to my completion
    b. this review has really shocked me – especially as the course prices are not at all small
    c. I am loathed to commit to approx $10k for a course in another timezone with such a poor review, to teach me probably (I reckon maximum) a few hours more knowledge on coaching and ADHD than I already know.
    [I have trained others to coach, and I have ADHD and am always reading up on the condition]

    I just wish I could find guidance to a course that is both accredited AND useful for my work – if I found one I KNEW fulfilled those criteria, I would even be willing to commit to every part being accessed online late at night…

    I would really welcome any suggestions of alternative accredited courses !!

    Thanks x

  7. Hello
    I am a 30+ year teacher with a bachelors and masters degree in education, and member of the professional teaching organization where I live. I have family members with ADHD and have been fascinated by it and their experience. Coaching really helped them & I I have been considering coach training at ADDCA but just had a feeling…SO expensive and looked a bit flimsy when I really dove into it. When I pay for education, I expect it to be high quality. This post has really caused me to put on the brakes! I would love to connect with you to find out more. I want to make sure I offer excellent service and support to clients; what is the best way to prepare?

    1. Hi Cindy, Welcome!
      I love what you’re doing and your commitment! I have a B. Ed too ☺️
      About putting on the breaks 😂… Just stop the car, get rid of the car LOL

      Best way to prepare?
      Please take a look at the posts under the tag #coaching; you’ll find a lot more info there
      I am “pro do it yourself”. We don’t need credentials!

      I believe I mentioned to someone (sorry, I have ADHD 🙃) that I’m about to launch something super cool for everyone who wants to become an “ADHD Professional”
      I do it all myself (even the WebDev), and I am going to show everyone how to do it (without procrastinating or wasting money and time) 😁

      Please check those posts I mentioned (the link will take you) and if you’d like to get in touch, of course!
      Most people reach me through LinkedIn or Twitter (I really do not like social media)
      xo

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