The secret life of an ADHD coach (a complete guide to coaches)

Wait, what even IS an ADHD coach?

chalkboard background with 4 wooden block steps, but there should be 5 -- the step in the middle is missing. a stick person drawn in chalk is walking up the steps (you) and another stick person is below, holding a step up (adhd coach) for you to reach your goals (top step)

In recent years, coaching has grown into an entire industry for a variety of niche areas: spiritual coaches, career coaches, health and wellness coaches, and—our favorite—ADHD coaches! But some people have no idea what an ADHD coach is or what they do.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with our complete guide to ADHD coaches (and the Inflow app!)

What exactly is an ADHD coach?

ADHD coaches have become a popular option for people looking to take control of their symptoms related to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD (formerly "ADD") and reach their goals. With this, often comes a need for habit adjustments, which is why ADHD coaches are sometimes referred to as “Habit-Change Coaches”. Usually, their goal is to explore your biggest roadblocks and help you face them head-on with applied coping strategies.

ADHD and accountability coaches can help their clients with a variety of ADHD-related challenges, such as:

What’s the difference between ADHD coaching and therapy?

Because coaching is still a new field, there’s still some confusion around the differences between coaches and therapists. While they’re both useful for processing emotions and setting goals, they are still separate practices with unique outcomes.

What can therapists do?

  • Make diagnoses and provide treatment plans (if properly certified)
  • Guide you through processing your past—trauma, anxiety, etc.
  • Tries to understand the way your experiences have shaped you, and how you view the world and yourself
  • Explore coping mechanisms with you to help you manage anxiety and stress in the moment

What can ADHD coaches do?

  • Help you set reasonable goals for yourself
  • Hold you accountable to the goals you set
  • Help you create structure in life (example: help you build a morning routine)
  • Works through long-term and tangible coping strategies that are specific to your ADHD experiences, challenges, and needs

What is Inflow?

Inflow is a mobile app for people with ADHD (or ADD) to learn more about their neurodiverse brain and find ways to manage the difficulties that can come with having ADHD as an adult. The app contains bite-sized modules, or ‘mini-courses’, on a ton of topics, each with optional journal prompts, challenges, key takeaways, and/or brain hacks.

There is also a community section for members to participate in answering daily questions and interact with one another, as well as frequent coworking sessions with lovable session leaders. (They have ADHD, too!) About once per week, live events are hosted by professionals (psychologists, coaches, nutritionists, professional organizers, etc.) so members can hop on and ask questions in real time.

And, finally, Inflow has coaches! For Apple users, new members are matched with an accountability coach at sign-up. (We’re working on this for Android!) And all members have the option to schedule a live 1-on-1 meeting with an ADHD coach through the app.

But - some members aren’t sure what to think of the coaching feature, which is why we’re taking a deep dive into ADHD coaching at Inflow.

Who are the ADHD coaches at inflow?

As of September 2022, Inflow has 9 coaches to encourage members to reach their goals and gently hold them accountable for making progress. Below are a few quotes from some of our ADHD coaches that wanted to introduce themselves to readers! (Yes! They’re real humans!)

Danielle C.

A photo of Danielle C., an ADHD and accountability coach for Inflow
Danielle - an accountability coach for Inflow members

“My biggest priority as your coach is to meet you exactly where you're at, and be a partner as you take steps forward. I bring a variety of tools, skills, and strategies; you bring expertise on how ADHD impacts you, and the desire to improve that led you to Inflow! My aim is to create an inclusive, productive environment where we can really ‘dig in’ together to create ripples of change in your life!”

JoAnn G.W.

A photo of JoAnn GW, an ADHD and accountability coach for Inflow
JoAnn - an accountability coach at Inflow

“My goal is to support you in your ADHD journey and encourage growth and forward movement. It's important to me that I provide a safe place for you to share your thoughts and feelings about your daily experiences. I focus on you and your needs. I also ask questions to help guide you to the answers you may be looking for. I look forward to supporting you!”

Emily T.

A photo of Emily T, an ADHD and accountability coach for Inflow
Emily ("Coach Em") - an accountability coach for Inflow members

“When working with me, you'll always have a nonjudgmental and safe space to share everything that comes up for you. I'll make sure you feel heard and understood—as well as encouraged to grow—and I'll work hard to create the change you want to see for yourself. My goal is to go beyond the problem at hand and consistently inspire you to dive beneath the surface. I will support you in learning more about ADHD, how it specifically pertains to you, and how to best manage your personal challenges so that you can live the life you want to live!”

Erica H.

A photoof Erica H, an ADHD and accountability coach for Inflow
Erica - an accountability coach at Inflow

“I like to meet members where they are at and gently encourage them to take the next step in achieving their goals. I love working at Inflow; the members and staff are so kind, transparent and authentic. It makes for a welcoming and warm environment to work and grow in. I see coaching as a safe space to grow and learn more about yourself. There is no failure in making a mistake, and it's not a black-and-white journey. Everyone's journey looks different, and that's okay!”

What do our coaches know about Inflow members?

Privacy is important to us! 

When you sign up for Inflow, you do not have to share your real name. As far as our coaches know, your name really is DistractedPenguin_03. But - if you want to share your real name with your coach, you’re welcome to do so!

Intake form responses

When you first sign up for the app, you’re asked a series of short questions about whether or not you’ve been formally diagnosed with ADHD (not a requirement to use the app, by the way), and what you hope to accomplish while using Inflow. The coaches have access to this information.

Completed modules and challenges

The Inflow app has an expanding library of ADHD modules—short lessons in the style of podcasts, grouped by topics, such as Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, Anxiety, and Procrastination. Whenever you complete a module—and if you choose to do the associated challenge—your coach will be able to see your progress and check in with you on what you learned and how to apply it to your real life.

Read receipt: on

Yes, your coach can see when you read their message! They’re called accountability coaches for a reason. ;)

On that note, though, it’s important to know that none of our coaches are here to be judgmental! They truly just want to help you make the improvements that you want to make.

Subscription and billing…?

This is something the coaches at Inflow want to stress to anyone willing to listen: because we value member privacy at Inflow, billing and subscription information is not provided to our coaches. If you want to cancel your subscription or ask for a refund, you’ll need to send an email to hello@getinflow.io.

What to look for in a coach

a woman's hands holding a phone while sitting at a desk with a laptop and a coffee. The phone has message bubble graphics around it.
Image by Urupong @GettyImages

I asked some of our coaches what they would consider to be “good qualities” of an ADHD and/or accountability coach. Here’s what they said:

  • Empathy. You want a coach that actually listens to your struggles, first and foremost.
  • Motivational (to an extent). Coaches wouldn’t be called ‘coaches’ if their job didn’t involve motivating their clients! You want to find a coach that has this quality, but pay attention to how much they try to motivate you, and how they go about doing so. You don’t want to be pushed past your limit and reach the point of burnout, especially not because of a coach.
  • Credentials. Because coaching is still a new field, regulations are looser than they could be. In other words, anyone can technically claim they’re a coach. Be sure to ask for credentials or find out what company they work for. (For example, coaches at Inflow have all met specific standards!)
  • Understands ADHD. This one might be obvious, but it’s still important to ask prospective coaches about their knowledge of ADHD and the challenges it can come with. (Bonus points if they have ADHD themselves!) This is important because if they don’t understand how your brain works, they can’t effectively coach you, which leads us to…
  • Realistic expectations. Coaches are going to have expectations for their clients - that's part of their job. But, are they realistic? Look for someone that pushes you, but also knows when they need to dial it back.

Indicators that your coach is a good match for you:

1. You like the way they speak to you.
All coaches have their own ‘style’ when communicating with their clients. While some prefer to just send messages that are clear and concise, others like to include lots of emojis and exclamation points!!! Some coaches also like to encourage the use of daily positive affirmations, while others push clients just past their comfort zone. Or, they may be a mix of all of those!

Don’t be discouraged if the first coach you match with isn’t the best fit for you. You’re bound to find someone!

2. You feel motivated or calmer (or whatever your goal emotions are) after speaking with them.
How do you want to feel after you catch up with your ADHD coach?

Validated?
Motivated?
At ease?

Jot down what you hope to gain - emotionally - from a coach, and be sure to check in with yourself after your sessions!

3. You learn new things from them.
Part of hiring an ADHD coach is learning how your brain works, and implementing strategies to work with your neurodivergence. If your coach explains things in a way that helps you understand yourself better, you may have found a keeper!

What if I don't like my coach?

Ask your coach for recommendations for other coaches! (Yes, seriously! It won't hurt their feelings!) Most coaches truly just want what’s best for their clients, even if that means suggesting a new coach that better matches the client’s personality and coaching preferences.

Interview with the ADHD coach

graphic that references "interview with the vampire" but instead is "interview with the ADHD coach, Danielle C.. On the left is a phone with the inflow app pulled up on the screen
subtle spooky season reference

The following section is a paraphrased transcript of the interview I had with one of our coaches that started working at Inflow in June 2022, Danielle C.

What does a typical day look like for you as an ADHD coach?

Danielle: my day usually starts around 8:00 am, and that’s when I assess my inbox situation. I always have several unread messages that I reply to, and then I also follow up with members I haven’t heard from in a while.

That’s my entire morning until I take a break, which is when I have lunch and take my dog for a walk. Then, my afternoons are usually spent in meetings with other coaches and reviewing client messages again before signing off for the day.

How do you communicate with Inflow members?

Danielle: All of the communication is done through a messaging dashboard in the Inflow app. I check my messages every weekday, and reply to my clients as soon as I'm available to give a thoughtful response.

Also, it’s not ‘live-messaging’ like some therapy platforms have. Generally, we reply to messages within 24-48 hours—unless it’s a weekend! Inflow employees don’t work weekends! :)

What do you talk about?

Danielle: Most of the time, my responses are just a continuation of conversations, which typically revolve around specific goals. I ask them about their progress and I provide encouragement or ‘brain hacks’ to help them meet whatever goals they have—big and small.

What’s the most common question you’re asked as a coach?

Danielle: (pauses, then laughs) Honestly…? The #1 question we get is:

"Um. Are you real, or are you a bot?"

Members will try to trick us sometimes as if we are bots—giving mini-challenges to make us prove that we are, indeed, humans. It's entertaining, to say the least!

But, aside from that, we’re most often asked about where to begin with coaching. I’ve had many clients confess early on that they didn’t know where to start with habit changes, or what tasks to tackle first. Fortunately, I’m prepared for those kinds of questions! As an ADHD coach, I can help you prioritize your tasks, reduce overwhelm, and improve motivation by helping you find your passion.

What are some examples of the goals your clients have?

Danielle: Goals can come in all shapes and sizes. Big goals could be things like, “finish paying off my credit cards” or “write my thesis" - and in those cases, I help them break down those goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. And then there are smaller goals. A very common ‘small goal’ I help members with is “do the laundry”.

What kind of advice or encouragement do you give your clients?

Danielle: Something I frequently say to my clients:

"Change is best when it’s small, slow, and sustainable."

In other words, it’s best not to rush through your goals. If you’re trying to implement a new habit, for example, you’re more likely to succeed if you keep things at a steady pace to avoid burnout. I also help ADHDers find ways to approach big tasks in a way that makes them less intimidating.

For example, one of my clients needed to pack because they were moving. I turned it into a game for them: beat the clock! I coached them to set a timer and pack as much as they could in a specific room... and then when the timer goes off, be done for the day! Then, come back tomorrow and do the same in the next room.

What do you like most about working as a coach with Inflow?

Danielle: Lots of things! For example, I love…

  • …being a part of something that not only raises awareness, but also acknowledges the reality of what it’s like to live with ADHD.
  • …that I work remotely, because I get to work with ADHDers from all over the world!
  • …how the Inflow team is so willing to listen to ideas from coaches, and then actually make changes based on our feedback. It shows they really do care about user experience (and their employees!)

What’s the most challenging part of being a coach?

Danielle: I think the hardest part of coaching is when I feel like I’m letting my clients down. This usually happens when they have misguided expectations for what I’m able to do or them. And when I can’t help them, I feel awful. One example that comes to mind is app subscriptions. Because I don’t have access to that sensitive information, I can't personally renew or cancel memberships, and I can sense their frustration when I can't help.

One other challenging thing... Every day is different, so my work can be pretty unpredictable.

I have to be ready for anything—receiving questions I’ve never been asked, a flooded inbox, being asked to send a pizza emoji to prove I'm real—every single day!

But, also - I kinda like it? And it’s kinda fun? (laughs) I guess you could call that a challenge, but it’s also exciting… an exciting challenge.

Interested in getting matched with an ADHD coach?

If and when you decide that coaching is something you want to try, you can sign up for the Inflow app today and start talking to a coach—even while you’re in the free trial period!

Looking for support?

Inflow can help you thrive with ADHD and reach your full potential. Start your journey now by taking our quiz.

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