What is The Professional Association of ADHD Coaches (PAAC)?
PAAC is The Professional Association of ADHD Coaches (www.paaccoaches.org).
The primary mission of PAAC is to independently credential coaches who want to work with people impacted by ADHD. PAAC also accredits organizations that train people to become ADHD coaches.
What is the distinction between an ADHD coach and a general coach?
A coach who specializes in ADHD coaching has a knowledge base in a specialty area that the general coach does not have. It’s much like a coach who specializes in small business possessing a special business knowledge base. The coach can draw on this knowledge base in his or her coaching, and generally be more conversant and effective in that specialty.
For example, ADHD coaches have spent far more time than general coaches learning about neuroscience and how the ADHD brain works. They are familiar with concepts such as executive functioning in the brain. They have a deeper understanding of the role of medications and in general how meds work. They recognize distraction, overwhelm, restlessness, fidgeting, and other traits as possibly being ADHD related. As clients become better educated as to how their ADHD brain is impacting their functioning, this leads to the client taking more appropriate actions.
An ADHD coach is also far more likely to understand how the person with ADHD thinks, going beyond empathizing with their problem. The ADHD coach is able to validate, understand, support, and acknowledge what their clients are going through. They truly “get” it. This is very important to people who have ADHD, who often don’t feel understood and need validation. A general coach simply will not have the knowledge base to coach on this level.
ns that train people to become ADHD coaches.
How do you get trained and certified to become an ADHD coach?
Can I become a certified coach or a certified ADHD coach without going through ICF or PAAC?
Yes, but you would need to look carefully at this. Certification standards vary. Many coach training organizations certify their graduates, but this type of certification may or may not meet requirements for ICF or PAAC certification, both of which are independent certification organizations.
If a training organization certification meets ICF or PAAC standards, it’s relatively simple for a coach who has met those certification requirements to apply and get an ICF or PAAC certification. If a training organization’s certification does not meet ICF or PAAC standards, then in order to get an ICF or PAAC certification, the individual would need to receive more training and/or go through a more stringent application testing process.
A PAAC certification indicates a coach has met general coach training requirements as well as training requirements in the specialty field of ADHD coaching.
Are there other organizations that offer credentialing for ADHD coaches?
PAAC is the only organization that offers independent credentialing for ADHD coaches. A PAAC certification indicates a coach has met coach-specific training requirements as specified by ICF, and also has met training requirements in the specialty field of ADHD coaching.
The case for getting an ICF credential:
The ICF is the original coach credentialing organization. It was formed in 1995 by the pioneers who founded the coaching profession. The core purpose of the ICF is to lead the global advancement of the coaching profession. Today the ICF has chapters in over 100 countries and has become the most highly recognized worldwide network of coaches. With 20,000 members, it is also the largest coaching organization in the world.
Since its inception, the ICF has offered general credentials for coaches who meet specific certification requirements. The credentials are offered at three different levels, starting for those who have achieved a basic coaching knowledge of coaching, all the way up to offering a credential for master coaches. An ICF credential is considered the gold standard for general coach credentialing.
If you’re serious about becoming a coach and serious about getting involved in the coaching profession, an ICF credential gives you the following:
You do not have to get an ICF credential to be considered a coach. If you want, you could just hang out a shingle that says “coach”. But if you do get an ICF credential, you are far more likely to be considered a serious, professional coach by the public, potential prospects, and your peers. If you have an ICF certification, it assures others that:
- You have completed a minimum number of hours of coach-specific training;
- You have been mentored by a certified coach for a specified period of time;
- You have achieved a specified number of client coaching hours;
- You have passed a fairly rigorous process of testing and demonstrated competency.
Marketing your services effectively is a big part of having a successful coaching business. All other things being equal, it stands to reason that clients are more likely to hire a coach who has been credentialed by a well-established organization with high coaching standards. Having that recognized credential helps you to stand apart as a coach.
Continued Coach Training
An ICF credential needs to be renewed every three years with proof that you are continuing to grow in your coaching knowledge and abilities. To that end, there are a certain number of hours of coach continuing education units that you must take and apply to your recertification. So having the credential and keeping it updated is a way to stay abreast of the latest developments in the coaching world.
The ICF sponsors regional and international conferences, local chapters, a coach referral service, access to research on coaching, and further benefits such as discounts on insurance and other services.
The case for getting a PAAC credential:
Having seen the successful path ICF paved for general coach credentialing, many in the ADHD coaching profession wanted to be able to also attain a high-level credential specific to both ADHD and to the field of coaching. In 2008 a PAAC Board of Directors was formed for this purpose.
Focused on developing a close alliance with ICF, all founding PAAC Board members were ICF certified coaches, recognized, and well established in the general field of coaching as well as the ADHD coaching field.
The Board began work on establishing competencies, ethics, and application procedures that were specific to ADHD coaching, while aligned as closely as possible to ICF certification requirements.
In the fall of 2012, all that work came to fruition when PAAC started accepting applications for three levels of credentialing in the specialty field of ADHD coaching. A PAAC certification indicates a coach has met coach-specific training requirements as specified by ICF, and also has met training requirements in the specialty field of ADHD coaching.
If you’re serious about becoming an ADHD coach and serious about getting involved in the ADHD coaching profession, a PAAC credential gives you the following:
A Credential in The Specialty Field of ADHD Coaching
Just as a doctor goes to medical school to get a general medical degree, then may want to seek further training and certification in a specialty area, the same concept applies to coaching. In the coaching field, ICF offers a general coach credential. A PAAC credential, by contrast, ensures that you not only have received general coach training, but also training for becoming an ADHD coach.
PAAC certified ADHD coaches, unlike general coaches, are trained to understand the ADHD brain, how it is wired, how people behave who have ADHD, and most importantly, how to apply different strategies when coaching an ADHD person than you might apply to a person who is not impacted by ADHD. These distinctions are spelled out in great detail in the core competencies on the PAAC website (www.paaccoaches.org).
A Credential in Alignment with ICF Processes
The PAAC Board has worked diligently to establish that our ADHD coach competencies and ethics align very closely to the credentialing process offered by ICF and that they meet the high level of excellence pioneered by the ICF. If you compare ICF and PAAC core coaching competencies side by side, you can see the same number of competencies with a similar emphasis on core coaching values. References to such things as ethics, conduct, creating a coaching agreement, having a coaching presence, all those types of things are very similar. In addition, the training requirements for becoming a PAAC coach are comparable to the ICF training requirements. So the PAAC credentialing process, while focused on the specialty field of ADHD, is intentionally designed with the same high principles pioneered by the ICF.
You do not have to get a PAAC credential to be considered an ADHD coach, but if you do get a PAAC credential, you are far more likely to be considered a serious, professional ADHD coach. The PAAC credential gives the public, peers, and potential clients the assurance that:
- You have completed a minimum number of hours of both ADHD training and coach-specific training;
- You have been mentored by a certified ADHD coach for a specified period of time;
- You have achieved a specified number of client coaching hours;
- You have passed a rigorous, ICF-like process of testing and demonstrated ADHD coaching competency in order to receive your ADHD coaching credential.
Having a PAAC coaching credential helps you to stand apart from other ADHD coaches. Just as ICF has grown by creating a gold standard for coach credentialing, PAAC is traveling a similar path. It has set high standards for its credentials. The importance of having a PAAC credential will grow over time, just as the importance of having an ICF credential quickly became the gold standard for general coach credentialing.
Continued Coach Training.
A PAAC credential needs to be renewed every three years with proof that you are continuing to grow in your ADHD coaching knowledge and abilities. To that end, there are a certain number of hours of ADHD coach continuing education units that you must take and apply toward your recertification.
As PAAC grows in the coming years, it will move beyond ADHD credentialing for individual coaches and accreditation for ADHD coach training organizations. A coach referral service and other marketing benefits are already in the planning stages.
Other organizations an ADHD coach should know about:
Below are three primary ones you might want to know more about. None grant credentials to coaches, but all offer potential benefits to the ADHD coach. Beyond these three, there are many others, too many to list here, all of which serve some aspect of the ADHD population. You can discover those by talking to friends, coaches, the organizations listed below, looking at blogs, books, doing online searches, etc. Here are the main three:
ACO: ADHD Coach’s Organization. This is a membership organization promoting ADHD coaches and coaching worldwide. www.adhdcoaches.org
ADDA: Attention Deficit Disorder Association. This is a general membership organization focused on helping adults with ADHD lead better lives. www.add.org
CHADD: Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. This is a general membership organization serving individuals with ADHD and their families. www.chadd.org
If I know that I want to specialize in ADHD coaching, wouldn’t I only need to get a PAAC certification?
It depends on what your reasons are for getting a certification. A PAAC certification requires that you meet equivalent ICFrequirements. So, if you had a PAAC certification, that would be equivalent to having an ICF general coach certification at the same level and would certify you as an ADHD coach. So, a PAAC certification would suffice in terms of a coach being fully qualified and meeting all general coach and ADHD coach requirements, from a PAAC perspective.
Having said that, the ICF is a much larger organization. It is focused on general coaching needs and, as such, offers numerous additional benefits (see #5 above) beyond what PAAC currently offers. Based on what the ICF offers, coaches may decide to get certifications from both ICF and PAAC.
Are there other factors that go into deciding what type of credential a coach might want to get?
There are a variety of reasons you might want to get an ICF credential or a PAAC credential, or even both, depending on your interests and a number of other factors. To make the best decision, you would want to look at all of those factors. The following will give your more information to help in your decision making.
The ICF credentials coaches. How is the credential PAAC offers different from the credential ICF offers?
The ICF, or International Coach Foundation (www.coachfederation.org), offers a general coaching credential. It also accredits coach training organizations. But the key difference in terms of credentialing between these two organizations is that ICF does not offer credentialing in specialized coaching areas. PAAC does, offering credentialing specifically related to ADHD coaching.