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 2Part 3 – Part 4

Accreditation Matters - Find Out Why - Video