There are a variety of coaches available today when it comes to ADHD in adults and children. Since this field is generally unregulated, it is difficult for the public to decide how to choose a coach. I suggest a few basic principals to consider:
- Choose a licensed mental health professional who is trained in coaching.
- Determine their level of experience.
- Utilize a professional who can provide counseling and coaching simultaneously.
- Ask if they can perform diagnostic standardized testing.
- Ask if they can interpret the results of previous assessments.
- Ask if they can screen for co-occurring disorders like anxiety, depression, and learning disorder.
It is fairly easy to go through this list in your initial phone call. I suggested you choose a number of professionals to call and take notes as you speak with them. This can help you determine the skill level of all of them and give you a better sense of who fits your comfort level. Of equal importance is how personable they are in their communication style.
The motivation to be cautious when seeking coaching is that ADHD can be a very complex problem to treat. First, because there a number of factors that can present themselves as ADHD but is actually something else masquerading as ADHD. A review of current research and publications bare this out. Second, sometimes ADHD is accompanied with other disorders that are significant and require simultaneous treatment. Since splitting up services with multiple professionals makes it difficult for the client to stay focused and clear in the treatment process, it is very helpful for services to be presented in an integrated fashion. Third, ADHD is so ubiquitous today it almost appears as “the flavor of the month” in some communities. It is sometimes diagnosed on a whim by looking only at the surface of a few symptoms commonly shown in most people at different times of their life. Therefore, having a professional who is versed in differential diagnosis is essential.
There is a trend today to rely on “tests” for proper evaluation and treatment. However, there is a down side to that because even the best tests can miss the mark if the diagnostician does not pay attention to all factors and does not consider “the whole person, their culture, and family history”. I have seen a few evaluations and treatment programs by excellent professionals who missed the mark by a country mile. I therefore recommend looking for a “coach/counselor” who is “seasoned” and careful.
Another skill to consider is knowledge of medications being used and evaluating their efficacy in controlling symptoms. Very often, describers do not provide their patients with tools to observe the effects of their medications. Being able to show observations with their medical provider is helpful in deciding how to proceed with medication. Therefore, communicating with healthcare professionals is essential in proper management. Too often, I have seen patients do their own medication management and put themselves in danger.
I invite readers to call or write if you have any questions.