ACTO Conference 2017: Creating the Outcome

Community Events
  • When: June 8-10, 2017
  • Where: Toronto, Canada
  • Learn More

This is a conference dedicated to the professional development of Coach Trainers and leaders of Coach Training organizations!

CHADD 29th Annual International Conference

Community Events

When: November 9th - 11th, 2017

Where:  Atlanta GA

Registration: Coming soon

Your one-stop shop for a world of expert insight on the latest in ADHD treatments, advancements, research, and more. Don't miss your chance to network with leaders in the ADHD field.

2017 ACO ADHD Professionals Conference

Community Events | Speaking Engagements
  • When:  April 28th - 30th, 2017
  • Where:  Reston, VA
  • Registration:  Register here

The conference is designed for coaches and other professionals working within the ADHD community.

David Giwerc, Founder and President of ADD Coach Academy will give two presentations:

  • Comparing ADHD Coaching and CBT for Adult ADHD

Presenting with J. Russell (“Russ”) Ramsay, Ph.D., co-director and co-founder of the University of Pennsylvania Adult ADHD Treatment and Research Program, associate professor of clinical psychology in psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Adult Coaching Demonstration – Integrating VIA Character Strengths in the Coaching Process

For more information, click here.

Accreditation Matters: How are Certification, Credentialing, & Accreditation Different?

ADHD Education | Coach Training

To recap our first 3 articles in the series:

Now we will talk about the different types of ICF and PAAC certification.

When looking for a quality ADHD coach or ADHD coach training program, it’s important to remember two things:

  1. Quality coach training programs are accredited (by ICF and PAAC)
  2. Individual coaches apply for certification as a credentialed professional coach (from the accredited program and/or ICF and PAAC).

Accreditation Process

Accreditation indicates that a coach training school has had their program scrutinized with rigorous external reviews, audits, and quality testing by an authoritative, independent organization. Becoming an accredited coach training program is a rigorous process to assure that the program curriculum meets the high standards of the accrediting body.

The accreditation process includes a comprehensive investigation by highly trained, knowledgeable assessors who thoroughly review a school's curriculum. The program must cover the Code of Ethics, Core Competencies (which are the foundation of skill sets necessary to successfully facilitate the coaching process), and the Definition of Coaching. Also, eighty percent of all training time must be live interaction (in-person, telephone conference, and/or webinar) allowing the opportunity for real-time interaction between the trainer and students.

ICF and PAAC accredited coach training programs must provide start-to-finish coach training and a minimum of 125 training hours. Partial programs can obtain recognition for their coach-specific training hours (ACSTH) after they undergo a similar assessment process.


A trainee who has completed an ACTP (Accredited Coach Training Program) program’s requirements, including the requisite number of recorded client coaching experience hours, will receive a document/diploma verifying their school’s program certification at either a basic or advanced level.

They can then submit their validated certificate and required documentation to the ICF and/or ADHD coaching PAAC with an application and fee.

Once ICF and/or PAAC have received the coach’s certificate they must then take/pass an ethics exam. When the certificate and their proof of passing the required ethics exam has been received by the governing body, the coaches applicant will automatically receive their certification designation or credential from the ICF and PAAC. Note: PAAC requires more coaching client experience hours than ICF so the coach may have to wait longer to submit their PAAC application until acquiring the requisite number of client coaching experience hours for certification.


A credential is awarded to a coach who has applied for certification, met the stringent training and experience requirements, and successfully demonstrated a specific level of proficiency with core coaching competencies. Coach certification is a globally recognized and respected testament to the knowledge and competency of a certified coach.

Levels of ICF and PAAC Certification

As mentioned earlier, ICF and PAAC both offer 3 levels of certification. The credential levels are:


PAAC certified coaches are required to renew their credentials every three years by obtaining continuing coach education credits, as well as current ADHD education credits.

Savvy clients recognize that not everyone who calls themselves an ADHD coach, or even a certified ADHD coach, actually has coaching experience, training, knowledge, or the skills to successfully engage/empower them to achieve their desired goals. There are many programs and coaches who are providing their own certification and have no affiliation or connection to professional accrediting and certifying bodies.

By establishing high professional standards and a strong code of ethics, organizations like ICF and PAAC ensure that the coaches they credential will offer a high level of knowledge, skill, and integrity. PAAC certification also indicates a standard level of competence that clients can expect when they work with a certified ADHD coach.

Knowing that not all ADHD coaches and their professional training and/or certification are equal allows the educated client to question and identify the right professional ADHD coach to assist them in reaching their personal and professional goals.

Part 1Part 2 Part 3 – Part 4

Academic Success Center, Led by ADDCA Graduate Michele Oelking, Wins Tulane University Award

Coaches in Action

The Academic Success Center team at Tulane University, led by ADDCA graduate Michele Oelking, was recently awarded the President's Staff Excellence Award.

The President's Staff Excellence Awards are annually granted to Tulane staff members or teams who exhibit outstanding achievement in their contributions to the university by either increasing productivity within a department, contributing to significant cost savings or exceeding expectations of service.

Tulane University President Michael A Fitts said “The students’ Success Center is a success. I hear about it across the country, and it’s something that I wish I had when I was in college.”

Birthday Parties, the Cafeteria, and Other Social Obstacles

ADHD Education

Alone - 1.jpg

by Caroline Maguire, PCC, M.Ed.

You need not helicopter to help your child make friends — in fact, too much parental interference can do more harm than good, especially in middle school.

Follow these strategies to boost your tween's confidence and skills in the most challenging settings and scenarios.

(Originally posted on ADDitude: Strategies and Support for ADHD & LD)

You learned that your middle-schooler is skipping lunch to avoid the cafeteria. Should you address it head-on, giving her advice that she probably won’t listen to, or demand that she go to lunch? It is hard to know. The cafeteria is where everyone comes together to socialize and hang out. For a child with ADHD, lunch can be very challenging.

Social struggles are not restricted to school. Children have the same deficits at home, at stores, on the ball field, and in every life setting. Many kids want to improve their friendship skills, but don’t know how. That’s where you come in.

Working with your child to meet social challenges leads to behaviors that your child can use everywhere. The following strategies will help your child make friends — and move through the socially difficult years of adolescence more easily.

How do I help my son stop avoiding the school cafeteria?

Children avoid the cafeteria because they are bullied, but also because they don’t know how to interact with peers, join a conversation, or even where to sit.

> Debrief your child. Without telling your child he is doing anything wrong, ask open-ended questions to find out what he thinks is happening. Ask about whom he sits with, when he feels uncomfortable, or if there are friends he would like to sit with.

> Practice skills. Nothing is tougher for kids than joining a conversation that is in progress. Suggest a little detective work. Ask your child to go to lunch, listen to what everyone talks about, and report back. You and he can role-play conversations that build on the topics the group talks about most often.

> Get outside help. Avoidance is not a plan, so if your child can’t navigate social situations, have her work with a professional social skills group.

How can I help my child when she isn’t invited to class parties?

If a child isn’t invited to birthday parties, concerts, or other peer activities, it is time to team up and find out what might be causing the problem.

> Discuss things, without blame, to help your child diagnose why she isn’t fitting in. Walk her through her day at school and ask her to recount one or two of the social interactions she had — what she said to a classmate, how that child reacted — and discuss what she thinks she could have done differently.

> Talk about different types of friendship. Many children with social challenges try to make friends with kids who do not share their interests, or they misinterpret social cues and think any friendly person wants to be friends. Help your child understand different kinds of “friendships”: There are people you say hello to, acquaintances, people you interact with, and real friends. Brainstorm with her about ways to befriend children with whom she shares interests and who treat her well.

> Find ways to meet others with similar interests — social clubs, youth groups, and other interest-based activities. These places give your child a chance to socialize by talking about things the kids like in common.

How can I make group projects less intimidating for my daughter? Group projects are tough for her because she has to contribute, advocate for her ideas, participate in the discussion, and present a final project. The following case study shows how to make group projects less challenging for your child.

Ali is 12 years old, and she hates group projects. She and her mom write the teacher asking for advice about what she can do better in the next group project. The teacher says Ali should speak up more and identify a role she would like to take on in the project.

Ali’s mom understands the unspoken social dynamics in play — children meet in large groups, and assumptions are made about Ali and what she might be able to do on the project. Ali is left out of the decision-making because she doesn’t speak up. Ali and her mom discuss the personalities within the group, their likes and dislikes, and so on. Ali puts together a social database about her partners in the group project, so she can talk more comfortably with her peers.

Ali does better socially when she has a plan. She and her mom look at the project rubric and discuss which components seem interesting and manageable to Ali, and decide what Ali would like to take on. They rehearse possible scenarios. Role-playing, and learning how to ask open-ended questions, helps Ali build the confidence to speak up during the group’s discussions.

With all the prep at home, Ali slowly overcomes her social struggles and plays an important part in the group. And she has a plan she can use for the next group project.

My son has lots of virtual friends, but how do I encourage him to develop friends he can talk with one-on-one?

Connecting to other people, adapting to their needs, and engaging in the give-and-take of friendship are important skills all kids need to learn.

> Let him have virtual friends. Facebook friends and Twitter buddies may be your son’s only friends right now, and you don’t want him to lose them.

> Talk to him about why he needs other friends. Ask your child what he likes about the virtual world. Find another activity that he may like — a course in robotics or computer coding — in which he will interact with people.

> Work on social strategies. Whether it’s engaging in chitchat, turning an acquaintance into a friend, or arranging to see people outside of school, it is essential that your son knows how to approach people. With consistent practice, he will get what you and every child wants: good friends.

Home Turf by Erin Dingle


Have you wondered what ADHD coaching can do for you?

This is a poem written by Erin Dingle, following a session with Laura Godfrey, her ADHD coach, that answers that question.

Laura has a lock on my basement secret cells.

She turns them over at 10 AM once a week.

She spills keys while I spit up safe crack sarcasm and mock the fence of my milk teeth shaking.

She has warm green tea waiting for me.

After so much whine cellar sober living

Laura opens the windows to my shameless tall tree.

This garden rustling inside.

She points at a home that stops hiding in halfways.

"You will get there. Trust me."

She teaches me concrete foundations.

Scaffold structures.

Basic brain housekeeping routines.

She teaches me over and over.

She understands the rip and winkle of nomad memory.

She grins as she makes me write it in my calendar immediately.

Laura gestures back at all the doors I have already opened in myself.

Over and over.

Because she understands

(as no one else has quite understood)

how much I struggle to forget this

and still remember that.

She understands the risks in a still house.

Unlike most

Laura cares for the low ceilings in my messy basement as much or more than the high glow of my curb appeal.

She tells me that many homes are built like mine.

It is Ok.

She says these kinds of cluttered homes have a magic artist charm all of their own.

It is Ok.

She says proper renovations are expensive. But these walls of aluminum tin can and foil will come down. It just takes longer than we hope it will. Always.

It is Ok.

She says every home needs different maintenance. Every home has different flaws. Every home has dent and bang different dark corners. Unless it is a show home that no one lives in and properly enjoys.

It is Ok.

Laura is my ADHD coach.

Not a Nurse. Not a Doctor.

She says she learns far more from the doing than from the training.

She says she has so much still to learn.

She listens to what I learn.

She applies it.

She respects my insights

regardless of my passionate degrees

or the wander in my wonderings.

She is more Healer

than most.

In her own building.

In waiting patiently at my doorsteps in motion.

Her hand extends through these shatter months.

She leads me into another week of consistent social engagement.

She is listening.

Like she understands this connection consistency is the most difficult and frightening room for me. But is also the space I need most.

She sees me trying to close the door to my messy basement. Shoving hard against my hide.

She tells me that is not necessary.

Lots of people have messy basements.

It is Ok.

She says she is ready to help me build new doors and landings.

Re-model self-perspective and perception through scheduled routine.

But "when and only when I feel ready".

There is no rush.

Like Laura understands the harried of always feeling hurried hard from the inside.

I run away. I circle back. I try again.

She says there is no hurry at all.

Over and over.

She offers perfect healing touch pressure.

She never questions why I sleep in a leaking tent or cry on the front lawn or howl at his back door today instead of diligently slaving in my office.

She laughs with me.

She hugs me when I leave.

Laura is better medicine than any psych or MD or PHD.

She is Holmes on my ramshackle Home ward bound journey.

My front porch is pillar gratitude.

Rows and columns will arrive

to hold up the rest

in good time.

She brings me crayons to brighten

the other stories

while I wait.

I welcome Laura onto this porch

Every week.

In every whether or not.

Over and over.

I am thankful.

Fortunately, this pattern is my most consistent.

It is my home turf.

It is a good place to start any building.

There is only one step up into Gratitude.

From anywhere that I am.

There is a porch. There is a swing.

The screen door is already wide open.

Erin Dingle -

Overview and Recommendations for Future Coaching/Therapeutic Research


By David Giwerc, MCAC, MCC

Self-Esteem, Self-Efficacy, and Resources in Adults with ADHD Patricia Elizabeth Newark1, Marina Elsässer1, and Rolf-Dieter Stieglitz1 2012


Even though therapy studies indicate beneficial effects of focusing on resources (Fiedler, 2007; Klemenz, 2009; Willutzki, 2003), and ambassadors of positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Snyder & Lopez, 2007) stress the importance of a resources-oriented view in psychotherapy, similar resources have been playing a subordinate role in the treatment of adults with ADHD. Few therapy manuals or guidebooks emphasize the strengths adults with ADHD possess (Hesslinger et al., 2002; Young & Bramham, 2007).

Study Objective:

The primary objective of this study was to explore differences in self-esteem, self-efficacy, and resources in untreated adults with ADHD, in comparison with healthy adults in the control group.

Relationships between self-esteem (overall opinion of ourselves and self-value as a person), self-efficacy [in this study, was identified as generalized self-efficacy (GSE) characterized by a broad and stable sense of personal competence about coping effectively with diverse, stressful situations], and resources [referred to as “strengths” or “potentials” of either a person (internal resources) or the environment (external resources; Willutzki, 2008], were surveyed.


A total of 43 adults who met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR) criteria for ADHD in adulthood were matched with a nonclinical sample in terms of age and gender. All participants (N = 86) were assessed with self-ratings:  Symptom Checklist-90–Revised (SCL-90-R), Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, General Perceived Self-Efficacy Scale, and Dick’s Resources Checklist.


Adults with ADHD showed lower levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy when compared with the control group. These results are consistent with the current literature (Philipsen et al., 2007; Ramsay & Rostain, 2008; Safren, 2006).

However, people with ADHD seem to possess the resources of family, leisure time, housing, ability to love, courage, and faith, which provide sources of support that can be fostered in psychotherapy and ADHD Coaching.


A crucial element in psychotherapy for adult ADHD is to break the vicious cycle of negative appraisal and to adopt positive strategies (Bramham et al., 2009; Safren, 2006) when difficulties arise.

Improved self-awareness of available resources, for adults with ADHD, can be useful in handling their impairing challenges while also achieving important objectives. Hence, self-esteem and self-efficacy can develop by the consistent use of strengths to effectively manage difficult situations and create new positive experience which can be applied in everyday life.

The foundation of the ADHD coaching process is built upon a focus of acknowledgement of individual’s strengths, resources, and empowering adults with ADHD to identify their own solutions through strategic questioning, which can lead to successful outcomes. (Schrevel, Dedding, Boerse, 2016)

Most coaches and therapists know from their professional experience that resources/strengths can influence the lives of adults with ADHD in a favorable way: and self-esteem and self-efficacy can grow.

The ADHD brain is unique in how it activates momentum. The character strengths are also unique to the core being of each individual with ADHD and how it can activate self-initiated action (self-efficacy) so they can feel good about themselves (self-esteem) with the specific actions they are able to complete.

The results of this research have important implications for future coaching and therapeutic interventions using the resources of strengths for the effective treatment/management of adult ADHD.

Future Research:

An exploratory study could be designed to identify and expand the discovery of specific adult ADHD resources and strengths, which can enhance self-esteem and self-efficacy. We recommend expanding future research to include education and integration of the VIA character strengths survey with research participants. The VIA Character Strengths Survey is the only free online survey, in the world, that is psychometrically valid. It is a self-perception assessment, which measures six virtue categories and 24 character strengths found to be universal across cultures, nations, and belief systems. In the field of Positive Psychology, the VIA strengths are considered to be the “basic building blocks” to a flourishing life.

Even though they are not referred to as such, the study referred to strengths and virtues with similar definitions to those used in the VIA survey [i.e. virtue of courage, the VIA strength of faith (aligned with VIA strength of spirituality) and ability to love (VIA strength), as resources]. The VIA provides another way to measure virtues and strengths that are expressed by adults with ADHD as components of their self-definitions.

What would happen to the list of resources/strengths for adults with ADHD if they were educated about the VIA character survey and used it as a tool to identify their core, signature strengths? The VIA character strengths survey represents 24 capacities that all human beings possess and is readily available online at no cost.

The ADHD brain is unique in how it ignites momentum, and what can sustain that momentum. The character strengths are also unique to the core being of each individual with ADHD and how they can activate self-initiated action (self-efficacy) so the individual can feel good about themselves (self-esteem) with the specific actions they are able to complete.

The VIA provides a wider array of established character strengths. The use of this measure with samples of adults with ADHD would provide a more nuanced and perhaps representative view of strengths and resources that may be relevant to the relationship of strengths, self-esteem and self-efficacy for adults with ADHD.

ADHD: How to Protect Yourself from Verbal Abusers

ADHD Education

Those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are often targets of very negative, hurtful comments. When attacked, they experience an amygdala hijack and fall into fight, flight, or freeze, which can trigger hours of rumination.

In this episode of Attention Talk Radio, ADHD coach Jeff Copper and guest Barbara Luther ( share personal experiences and how they managed to deal with verbal abusers in a healthy way. If you get attacked or are often the brunt of negative comments, this is a show you can't miss.

The Importance of Certification for Life and ADHD Coaches - Accreditation Matters

In our previous articles, we talked about a significant issue in the coaching profession: anyone can call themselves an ADHD coach, regardless of whether they have actually received any training. We also discussed the preeminent governing bodies in the coaching profession and how they help identify quality, well-trained coaches.

Now we’re going to talk more specifically about certification as it relates to Life and ADHD coaches.

Think of an ICF certification as the designation of a general life coach; and think of a PAAC certification as the coach’s specialty certification, above and beyond their general coach competency.

Sadly, there are individuals calling themselves ADHD coaches who have had no general life coach training, let alone specific ADHD coach training. Some professionals from the mental health and education fields have presumed that their training qualifies them to be ADHD coaches, without actual ADHD coach-specific training.

This is like an attorney claiming he or she is a tax attorney, without having successfully completed their CPA exam. Would you put yourself in that person’s hands, knowing they have no special training in your particular need?

Unfortunately, many people with ADHD have worked with an untrained coach or someone claiming to be an ADHD coach (but without any training or certification). Those ADHD individuals have often come away from the experience thinking that coaching can’t help them, or that they are not coachable. That is a travesty that ICF and PAAC seek to prevent.

Sometimes even an ICF general life coach will claim to be an ADHD coach, yet does not have ADHD coach specific training. Even though that coach may be a good general coach, that does not assure he or she will be a competent ADHD coach. If a coach does not understand the unique brain wiring of an individual impacted by ADHD, then he may inadvertently cause the ADHD individual to feel worse rather than empowered. That’s why ADHD is considered a specialty that requires ADHD-specific training beyond life coach training.

This is a big reason why more and more coaches are choosing to complete an ICF/PAAC accredited coach training program to become a certified coach. This chosen path establishes the veracity of their professional credentials.

Coach certification is a globally recognized and respected testament to the knowledge and competency of the coach. It indicates that the coach has been assessed by an Accredited Coach Training Program, and that he or she has the recognized skills and expertise required to practice as a credentialed coach. This is why the ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) saw the significance and value in becoming accredited by both the ICF and PAAC.

The ADD Coach Academy ( is the only comprehensive ADHD-coach training program that is accredited by both ICF and PAAC. Someone completing the Advanced ADDCA training will be well-versed in the ethics and competencies of general life coaching as well as those of the ADHD coaching specialty.

Unless a program has met the stringent criteria of an external, independent accrediting organization like ICF or PAAC, that program may not be training to well-established professional coaching standards. That’s why it is so important to educate the ADHD community about the importance of accreditation, certification, and credentialing.

In the final article in our series, (coming soon), we will talk in more detail about the different types of ICF and PAAC certification.

Part 1   –   Part 2   –   Part 3   –   Part 4

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