by Barbara Luther, MCAC, MCC

In March, we looked at the second PAAC ADHD coaching competency, Creates a Respectful, Collaborative Partnership in the Partnership section of the competencies.

While every coaching relationship must be built upon a solid partnership, what sets this competency apart from ICF’s Establishing Trust and Intimacy competency are the understandings we have about our ADHD clients’ super sensitive radar for judgment and the powerful need for respect, acknowledgement, and appreciation of our ADHD clients.  Safety is essential in all coaching relationships, yet creating that safety may take more attention with ADHD clients who are so yearning for understanding and acceptance.

Boundaries are often a topic for coaching with ADHD clients, and good boundaries also have to be established within the coaching partnership, which can be good modeling, too.

I often tell young ADHD coaches in training that if they can’t see a prospective client as incredible, capable, and whole just as they are, then that person is not their client.  If we don’t feel honored and excited to work with a particular client, then we should probably refer them to a coach who can see them in that light.  Our job as ADHD coaches is to help our clients see their strengths and magnificence as they also come to understand and work with their unique brain wiring.  No person is just their ADHD, and our goal as the client’s partner is to build upon what’s working, help them get in touch with what’s important to them, and help them grow in self appreciation and confidence.

We must truly care about our clients and stand for them to develop healthy self-talk and supports so they can be who they want to be and reach their potential.  Working with ADHD clients means that we listen for and help our clients understand and use their natural modalities and ways of working.  We will challenge them to develop excellent self care and supportive environments where they can thrive.  As their collaborative partner, we bring our understanding of ADHD’s impact into our discussions so our clients can learn about themselves and what they can do to minimize traits’ impact while enlisting traits in situations where they may serve as strengths.

ADHD coaches, understanding verbal processors, know when and how to intervene in negative thinking and stories and when to allow clients to work out their thoughts and feelings.  ADHD coaches also encourage clients to stand for themselves to obtain accommodations, and this often means working through limiting beliefs that may be holding clients back from asking for the help they need.

Partnering with an ADHD client is an all-in thing.  We may sound more directive when we bring ADHD understanding into our questions.  Our clients want to learn about themselves and reach their goals, and we must always hold them powerfully and confidently that they can be successful.  Our vision and confidence are key elements of being great partners.