How is ADD Coaching Distinct from Regular Coaching?

By David Giwerc, MCC, President/Founder of ADD Coach Academy,

In order to discuss the distinction between regular coaching and *ADD Coaching it is important to reference the International Coach Federation, the professional organization that governs the standards and integrity of the coaching profession.

ICF’s definition of coaching is:

Part One: The ICF Philosophy of Coaching

The International Coach Federation adheres to a form of coaching that honors the client as the expert in his/her life and work, believes that every client is creative, resourceful, and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach's responsibility is to:

• Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
• Encourage client self-discovery
• Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
• Hold the client responsible and accountable

Part Two: The ICF Definition of Coaching

Professional Coaching is an ongoing professional relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses or organizations. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life.

In each meeting, the client chooses the focus of conversation, while the coach listens and contributes observations and questions. This interaction creates clarity and moves the client into action. Coaching accelerates the client's progress by providing greater focus and awareness of choice. Coaching concentrates on where clients are now and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be in the future. ICF member coaches recognize that results are a matter of the client's intentions, choices and actions, supported by the coach's efforts and application of the coaching process.

*ADD Coaching:

Clients with ADHD have the same human needs as any coaching client. ADD coaching certainly encompasses the ICF definition of coaching above but also encompasses the following: ADD clients also face unique challenges related to ADD that can interfere with their quality of life. These challenges might include hyperactivity, impulsivity, and attention issues, as well as the belief that they can’t attain their goals because they have ADD. Other challenges that

ADD coaches support their clients in developing a comprehensive understanding of both the nature of their ADD and ADD’s impact on their quality of life. In addition, ADD coaches work with clients to create and identify the Five S’s: Strengths, Structures, Support, Systems, Skills, and Strategies. Coaching assists clients with ADD to stay focused on their goals; face obstacles; address core ADD-related issues like time management, organization, procrastination, prioritizing, self-esteem; gain clarity, and function more effectively to improve their self-esteem. ADD coaches work with their clients to develop customized strategies to move forward toward their goals, to deepen their self-awareness, and to continue moving toward fuller and more satisfying lives. The client is seen by the ADD coach as resourceful and thus, with increasing self-awareness, as fully capable of discovering his or her own answers.

What we believe really sets ADD coaching apart from regular coaching are these elements:

• The clear understanding and recognition of how ADD manifests

• A toolkit of strategies, models, and systems for helping clients learn about their ADD and turn it to their advantage

• Appreciation of the paradox of the tremendous weaknesses and exceptional strengths of their clients

• A commitment to coach from a paradigm of assisting clients to manage the ADD challenges that impair their quality of life and enlisting the strengths in more aspects of the client’s life

• Supporting and assisting clients in identifying and articulating their ADD impairing challenges for effective communication with their health care providers

• A greater level of safety and support for their clients, taking exceptionally great care to refrain from any judgments

• An appreciation of and patience with ADD traits that trip their clients and look deceptively like opposition or procrastination, etc.

• Recognition that ADD clients are often afraid to even contemplate success, given their past experience. As ADD coaches come from the knowing that ADDers are uniquely wired, they assist clients in uncovering their strengths and owning their dreams and goals again.

• Assisting clients to appreciate their learning modalities, unique organizing methods, and creative leaps and connections in order to develop customized systems that will facilitate the completion of goals and tasks

• Witnessing and mirroring for clients to help them pay attention to what they are paying attention to

• Offering structures and tools to assist clients in forming memory and retrieval links

• Knowing to take the pressure off, so an individual with ADHD can take the action required to succeed

• Identifying, and honoring, the unique brain wiring and strengths of each individual with ADHD

• Co-creating systems that integrate more of their client’s talents into their short and long term strategies for the successful completion of important goals, tasks and projects.

* We will refer to coaching individuals with ADHD as *ADD coaching. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, 1994, (DSM-IV) the diagnostic label is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, popular conversation and on the ADDCA website and other websites the terms - ADD, ADHD, AD/HD - are used interchangeably

Author's Bio: 

David Giwerc, MCC, (Master Certified Coach, ICF) is the Founder/President of the ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA),, a comprehensive training program designed to teach the essential skills necessary to powerfully coach individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

He has been featured in the New York Times, London Times, Fortune, INC magazine and other well-known publications. He has a busy coaching practice dedicated to Entrepreneurs, Small business owners, Executives with ADHD and the mentoring of ADD coaches. He has been a featured speaker at ADDA, CHADD, International Coach Federation and other conferences. David is the current President of ADDA,