In the last decade, we have seen an explosion of apps that offer conveniences directly to your front door. Do you want dinner but don’t want to cook? There is a delivery app for that. Do you want to attend school but are too busy to drive to a university? There is an online learning app for that. Do you want to shop from the comfort of your home? Behold, another app. Indeed, some actual winners positively impact our lives.
Mostly, these apps make your life more productive and convenient at a meager cost and with the convenience of being easily accessible right there on your cell phone or tablet. The key is to discern when to use an app and when to opt for something different where higher levels of quality and support are needed. However, not all apps are worthwhile, and not all can fill the gaps of what is truly needed. Recently, life coaching apps have gained popularity. Typically, a new app would be a point of celebration and anticipation for all the conveniences and low costs it will offer. However, should convenience and low cost be your priorities when learning to develop new habits and skills and to manage your life effectively? The challenge is that using AI and automated responses is not coaching. Typically, a client comes to coaching with the need to connect with a real person for support. There is accountability, the creation of new habits, and a dance in dialogue that opens up new possibilities and potential outcomes with goals and actions. An app can help celebrate and cheer you on, even support new habits and efforts. However, an app can not take in the variety of nuances that occur in a coach and client relationship.
Currently, there is no legal requirement to qualify as a life coach in the USA. Anybody can hang an open sign on their door and call themselves a life coach—only a proportion of the people calling themselves a life coach have received proper training. And even fewer still have received the specific ADHD training for life coaching. Therein lies the problem with app coaches.
Here is why this topic is near and dear to my heart. Before I joined The Center for Living Well with ADHD as an ADHD Coach, I had applied for a position at one of these new-age app companies (let’s name this app “Bargain Basement Coaching”). Let me share my experience. The application process for Bargain Basement was quick; there was no interview, and I was offered the job without anyone from Bargain Basement even speaking to me. At the onboarding meeting, I sat with 30 other applicants, listening to a 45-minute presentation on how to use the Bargain Basement app’s software. At the end of the exhibition, Bargain Basement hired thirty people at once with no interviews and no background checks to start work immediately. It was just a large cattle run feeding into a digital office building with no accountability whatsoever. This app company gave us the unsupervised freedom to set up shop and advertise as experts in whatever coaching specialty without any sort of checks and balances. Our Bargain Basement supervisor was in charge of over 450 people, and several supervisors were assigned thousands of these presumed “life coaches.” These coaches could set up whatever pricing and services they wanted without regulation by anyone. There were no standards for these coaches and no continuing education or skill-building requirements.
Of course, this business model results in an app full of unqualified novices offering consultations without experience or accountability. These people operate like some clothing wholesalers where the outfit is so poorly made it falls apart after the first time you put it on. Unlike a cheap suit, you pay these people to influence your daily decision-making, which could have disappointing, if not disastrous, outcomes for your life.
You can imagine my takeaway from this experience. This is not life coaching or ADHD coaching as it is designed to be. Let’s start with the definitions. First, from the International Coaching Federation – “ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership. (https://coachingfederation.org/about) Next, from The ADHD Coaches Organization. “ADHD Coaching is a collaborative, supportive, goal-oriented process in which the coach and the client work together to identify the client’s goals and then develop the self-awareness, systems, skills, and strategies necessary for the client to achieve those goals and full potential. (https://www.adhdcoaches.org/about-adhd-coaching)”
Here at The Center for Living Well with ADHD, we hold ourselves to the highest standards and ethical practices of Life Coaching and ADHD Coaching. To join the team, you must complete both Life Coach Training and ADHD Coach training. We are held accountable to follow our coaching profession’s ethical and professional guidelines amongst our peers and leadership. Each of us has completed extensive pieces of training and has invested years in the expertise of supporting and coaching clients through the ADHD lens. I had to submit a graduation pack for review, representing the total body of knowledge from the coursework. This training is essential to ensure my effectiveness as a coach. My ADHD life coaching certificate required over a year of training. I had to accumulate several hours of pro-bono and paid work with clients. I had to have my performance assessed by an ADHD coach with 20 years of experience.
In addition, all coaches here at The Center have ADHD or live with somebody with ADHD. We believe we are better coaches because we don’t just talk the talk – we have to walk the walk in our own lives. Firsthand life experiences with the frustration and difficulties of ADHD have made us better coaches. And we don’t stop there. Continuing education is necessary to stay current on ADHD research, maintain the best coaching practices with our clients, and fulfill our certification requirements. We collaborate as colleagues at least a few times a month to discuss how to serve our clientele best and create the most significant value in our coaching sessions. Can you see the difference? We do not have a thousand coaches with no experience and no supervision. We have eleven trained and skilled coaches for the job.
So I would ask, with having ADHD, which approach is more valuable when you are facing significant struggles in life or feeling stuck in life? Which method is more likely to get you closer to what you want and assist? All this support makes the client’s choice very simple. Do you just want any low-priced dabbler to misuse your valuable time, or do you want a qualified coach to assist you in moving forward and reaching your dreams?
Let me be clear: there are some worthy apps out there that have made our lives easier or more straightforward. The questions become: What are you asking that app to do? What will help you remember to use it? And how far can it take you?
Nate Hooper, CALC
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach