Can We Trust an ADHD Coach? My Nightmare at ADDCA

I took an ADHD coach training course at a well-known Academy and it was the worst e-learning I’ve ever experienced.

By Laly Steel

November 6, 2020

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? How can we know who to trust?

What’s an ADHD coach

There’s an article from ADDitude magazine[1], which I read after taking 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) endorsed by the International Federation of Coaches (IFC); this federation certifies programs that deliver coach training.

So I wonder, if the course I took gave me wrong information: how much can we trust ADDCA and the coaches trained at it? How much can we trust the IFC; 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 until 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; besides, it was so user unfriendly, that one of the coaches resigned because no one 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 should read (files that, by the way, weren’t organised, 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 received long e-mails (adding more information, insights and etc) which didn’t have subheadings, bullets or anything that could help us with their legibility. It was painful to read them, they would take a lot of our time … and, in fact, there were complains.

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 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.

References

[1] McCarthy Laura (2020) What Is an ADHD Coach. Attitude. URL: https://www.additudemag.com/shopping-for-a-coach/ [Last Visit: October, 2020]

[2] I wrote about my need to write and read with Sans Fonts for a better legibility at “ADHD and the Use of Sans Fonts. Do They Make a Real Impact on the Legibility?”

[3] They offered me, the day before the beginning of the course, a file that was supposedly written in “Arial;” the file was broken and I couldn’t open it. Furthermore, if I would have been able to open it I wouldn’t have had the chance to create a proper index because it was secured. 

[4] The examples of wrong information provided in the ADDCA Manual are at “What You Are Read About ADHD Could Be Dangerous“.

[5] The manual brain metaphor is at “How to Drive a Manual Brain“.

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