As an ADHD coach, one of the questions I am frequently asked is “What is the difference between therapists and ADHD coaches?” While there is some overlap between the two professions, therapists and ADHD coaches have two distinct roles:
Role of Therapists
Therapists help folks deal with their feelings. They help get to the root of emotional issues by looking at the “why” behind them. This often involves looking into a person’s past and diagnosing psychological issues or conditions. In other words, a therapist is an expert who is focused on healing. The therapeutic process often starts with a diagnosis and moves from there to treatment, which often includes dealing with any emotional issues – depression, anxiety, stress – arising from or surrounding the condition.
In terms of ADHD, a therapist is often the professional who first diagnoses it. While a therapist may refer a patient to a physician for a medical prescription, a therapist also helps a patient deal with the emotional impact of ADHD on his or her life.
Role of ADHD Coaches:
Coaches, on the other hand, help folks to clarify and reach their goals by asking “what now?” and “how?” A coaching relationship is focused on action and moving forward to deal with practical issues and reach goals. The relationship is a collaboration and is often more flexible than that of a therapist and patient.
In terms of ADHD, a coach initially helps a client understand how ADHD is impacting his or her efforts to move forward in their lives. A coach acts as a project manager for a person by working with him or her to find direction, motivation, resources, and strategies. A coach helps a person break down a goal into manageable tasks and provides consistent accountability. Most importantly, a coach often acts as a cheerleader, providing a positive “you can do it” voice amid the negative self talk that is so often present with ADHD.