So, I’m trying a Thing. I’m testing out a counsellor who is both a psychologist and a careers counsellor. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
The TL:DR version - If you want ADHD-relevant careers counselling, your best bet is probably a psychologist who specialises in careers counselling, rather than looking for the rare careers counsellor who understands ADHD. Not that they don’t exist, but they’re harder to find.
The reason I’m putting this topic here in the Toolbox is because I have had a bugger of a time trying to find someone who can provide career and work advice from an ADHD perspective, so I thought it might help some other people in a similar situation to post something about it.
A little background (you can read more on my intro if you’re desperate to learn my life story): I lost my job back in November, and it was only a couple of weeks before that that I was formally diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve been using that time to recover and recuperate from an extraordinarily difficult year and I’m now feeling in a good place to start getting back into the workforce.
Here’s the rub, though: for over ten years I’ve worked in government policy development, so I’m a decade out of the job search game and have no idea how to change track. I’m like a tourist on the London Underground who’s jumped off the train after realising they were on the wrong line, who knows they need to get back to their hostel, but can’t remember what station they were meant to get off at and is struggling to get someone to lend them a map. I know I need to go somewhere, but I don’t know where and I don’t know how to get there or even what to do if I make it.
Hence the career counselling.
However, most career counselling services, as far as I can tell, are really just job search assistance services - how to search jobs, how to polish your resume, remember to put your pants on before an interview, that sort of thing. Not only that, they are overwhelmingly designed for neurotypical people. I can’t hold that against them as we make up a maximum of about 5% of the total population, but it’s still a pain.
Finally, where regular careers counselling services do have scope for ADHD, we’re considered “disabled,” put in the same category as people with physical disabilities or cognitive difficulties. Whenever someone a bit neurodiverse is considered “disabled,” I feel like throttling someone! We aren’t disabled, we’re different! ADHD might well have been called “minimal brain dysfunction” at one point, but that was almost a hundred years ago!
Enough ranting. I could rant much, much more, but I won’t. But I could.
Back to the topic at hand, I’ve been fortunate that the Australian Psychological Association and the magazine Psychology Today maintain substantial databases of registered psychologists, including those specialising in workplace and careers support. These databases include tags indicating the expertise of the practitioners, making it easy to narrow your search to those who might be able to help.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to find a psychologist based here in my remote tropical home of Darwin who is able to provide career guidance and support and who understands ADHD. Funnily enough, that classification of ADHD as a “disability” might work in my favour this time, as she is registered with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, so weirdly, I might be able to get government support for my quest to find a better job. I probably won’t as a matter of principle - there are people with actual disabilities out there, physical, psychological or neurodevelopmental, who need that support far more than me with my mildly divergent brain - but it’s interesting to know that it might be an option.
So here, finally, is my advice: if you’re seeking career guidance and workplace counselling that takes into account the peculiarities of ADHD, your most likely option for finding someone helpful is to find a psychologist who specialises in workplace and career support. You might be lucky and find a non-psychological career guidance service that works for you, but those seem to be long odds.
If you’ve made all the way to the end of what was meant to be a much briefer post, well done! Treat yourself to a mental pat on the back, a cup of tea and a bikkie!
Here are those links I promised at the start:
Australian Psychological Society: https://www.psychology.org.au/
Psychology Today (Australia - see below for international): https://www.psychology.org.au/
For Psychology Today, look for the symbol on the top of the page that can change the location to your country of residence. So far as I can tell, they cover Australia (obviously), USA, Canada, UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa.