Alan R Graham, PhD, PCC, MCAC
The PAAC Standards of Ethical Conduct was developed as a set of guidelines for PAAC Certified Coaches to use in their practice of ADHD coaching. At PAAC, we expect ADHD coaches to act with integrity and to treat their clients with respect, dignity and appreciation of the issues which the ADHD client and those close to him/her confront daily. As such, an ADHD coach has a primary obligation to consider and protect the client’s interest in making any decisions regarding the coaching relationship. The competency call focuses on the first six Ethical Standards.
An important distinction a coach must understand is that the laws of the jurisdiction where you practice take precedence over the PAAC ethics. Therefore, a PAAC coach needs to be aware of the laws that govern coaching and mental health. If a coach is also a licensed mental health professional, the coach is likely bound by the mental health code of their jurisdiction, even if they are providing coaching services. If an ADHD coach is not a licensed mental health professional, a knowledge of the mental health code is necessary since ADHD is a mental health diagnosis and many members of the client’s treatment team are likely to be mental health professionals and are bound by those laws. These laws may include privacy and confidentiality, mandatory reporting of abuse and neglect, among others.
An ADHD coach must work only within the scope of their practice. While it is imperative that an ADHD coach is knowledgeable about ADHD, its symptoms, treatments and consequences, the ADHD coach does not diagnose or treat the condition. Rather, the ADHD coach works with the client to help them reach their goals while looking through the “ADHD lens.” (See Competency #5)
The ADHD coach’s policies and procedures are clearly presented to the client and address all aspects of the relationship. The ADHD coach offers a written coaching agreement to the client and assures that the client understands the agreement. The ADHD coach respects the appropriate boundaries of the client and makes decisions respecting their primary obligation to the client’s interests. Therefore, an ADHD coach has enough self-awareness to recognize when their work may be compromised by their own issues.
Consultation with other ADHD coaches is an excellent way a coach to stay grounded and focused on providing ethical and competent coaching. Participating in coaching organizations is a way of staying connected.