Among the many coaches I met at the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) annual conference last summer, DeShawn Wert, of Your ADD Answers, never seemed put off by my coaching skepticism and didn’t flinched when I asked yet another question about how ADHD coaching works, the benefits and costs. So when I decided to give coaching a try, it was DeShawn I thought of first. I’m excited to start my coaching journey, and pleased to share this guest post from DeShawn, clarifying the roles of therapist and coach.
Often people are confused about ‘how” coaches can help them with their ADHD symptoms and being successful. Lollie and I have discussed what a coach does and how finding one that works for you can make a difference the life of someone with ADHD.
In this post, I share the differences between the roles of an ADHD coach and a therapist, and what you can expect when you engage one. I also share the different responsibilities and goals coaches can support in the coaching relationship, helping you determine if you are in fact, ready for a coach or in need of a therapist.
In general, psychologists facilitate healing, while ADHD coaches facilitate action. A psychologist spends more time on the emotional aspects of having ADHD and can treat co-existing conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Coaches help clients develop skills and strategies to overcome executive function deficits such as planning, organizing, and time management. Coaching provides more accountability, so a coach may offer more frequent (possibly daily) contact between sessions to help keep clients on track.
Coaches can — and often do — work on emotional challenges to some extent, and psychologists work on life skills. The difference is the degree to which each need is present. If the primary challenge is managing or understanding emotions, particularly those that have been present for years, a psychologist would likely be the appropriate option.
Likewise, if the primary goals are getting organized, managing time, and creating healthy routines, coaching might be the better approach.
It is not uncommon for a person to be working with a therapist and a coach at the same time.
In terms of certification, psychologists must be licensed by their state in order to practice, but certification is optional for coaches. A credential is a good indication that the coach has the appropriate level of training and experience to be effective. Besides certification, you should always interview a prospective coach and make your own decision. Ask questions about their experience and training, and always make sure you feel comfortable with them.
After years of teaching in public schools and her ADHD diagnosis, DeShawn launched a business of her own, Your ADD Answers Coaching and Consulting. “I am able serve clients all over the world, helping them to understand their own unique brain and how it functions for them.” She addresses ADHD on her website – Your ADD Answers – where you can also find out more about her coaching services. DeShawn also writes for ADD Student, a blog that supports parents as they work with schools in supporting their students.
Here are a few additional articles from Additude Magazine you may find informative –
What You Need to Know About ADHD Coaching
Seven Executive Function Deficits Tied to ADHD
Great, straightforward summary of the differences in therapy and coaching. What I like the most is that DeShawn didn’t oversimplify the purpose/meaning of either therapy or coaching, as some coaches do, by saying, “Therapy is about looking backwards; Coaching is about moving the action forward.” Those are simply not accurate descriptions! In fact, as DeShawn pointed out, coaching clients often have both a therapist and a coach. The combo can be very helpful! Thank you, DeShawn!
I appreciate your kind words, Camille! The power of collaboration and a great coach and therapist is amazing! Have a great day!