Testing out careers counselling

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.

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@PopRivett

:joy: (How’d you guess?)

PS: What’s a bikkie?

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Biscuit. Or cookie, for you Americans and your crazy mutant version of English!

Also, in my case, it’s much more likely to be a cup of coffee than tea, but tradition demands that tea be in the phrase.

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@PopRivett

“Coffee too strong? Never!”

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I hadn’t thought of that…
Being quite new to the concept of ADHD (and this website), I’ve only been researching ways to improve my focus at work. But it could just be the wrong job… It would certainly be useful to reflect on that in the long run :slight_smile:
Another thing to discuss with the specialist I will meet in a few days! Thanks PopRivett :+1:

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I am so blessed to be in the right field for me. Now I just need to Cert up and get into the right job.
I work in Support IT. Not the Help Desk (though that is a common start point, and I did my time there), but tier 2/3 support. In-house IT for a regional retailer. Some of the best times I have had on the job are when the fecal matter has impacted the rotary blade.
No idea what you all do for a living, but statistically ADHD brains gravitate to jobs involving high structure and/or high stakes adrenaline. Crisis medicine, emergency services, law (which seems odd to me, given long office hours, but… ok?), military service, etc.
In IT, this looks like this:
Oh, snap, %devicename% has failed, and it took %majorsystem% with it. Now all the %systemslocatedeverywhere% are not working! FIX IT!
We had previously moved all the stores from one subnet scheme to another, and as part of that they needed to talk to another server to get the current time.
This was sent to the devices, Registers and PCs, via a Group Policy. Problem. The devices were all WYSE terminals, which use a Write Filter. The filter says that when on, all changes to the device are wiped out on a reboot, and on boot up it reverts to the EXACT same state it was in when the filter was turned on. Including the date and time.
They reboot automatically every night at midnight.(Keeps the RAM clear, helps performance.)
On boot, it checks the date and time, then tries to talk to the domain controller to get policy updates. But if it’s time is too far out of sync from the controller, it is not allowed to have the conversation.
They had never taken the old time server down, so after while they do server clean up, find it is still ticking, and take it down. Meanwhile, back at the batcave, my team just finished a few weeks ago sending an update to the devices. This update 1) turns off the write filter (causes a reboot in doing so.), 2) installs the update, 3) reboots to finish any registry changes, 4) turns on the write filter (causing a reboot). The devices were sent this while the old time server was active, and it was sent around 11 PM to prevent issues with store operating hours. Step 4 finishes anytime from 11:15 to 11:45 pm.
The day after the time server goes offline, all hell breaks loose.
Registers are rebooting every 15 to 45 minutes. No one knows why.
It took most of the day to figure out what was going on, why, and how to fix it (cause another team was certain it could not be the lack of time server, and refused to stand it back up short term.).
It was the most fun I have had at work.
Turns out I love Crisis IT. It is a total blast. And it only took until my mid thirties to find out what I want to be when I grow up. :smiley:

Anyway. Think of the times you just loved work. What made you love it? Why? What can you look for in that and use elsewhere? Those are my go-to questions.

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I almost choked on my tea while giggling. That’s a good one, I’ll remember it :laughing:

But it is a good thing to reflect on. I had a brief stint in logistics, a field where [insert JudasTheHammer quote here] on a daily basis: I was often called to solve emergency situations. It made me feel really useful to the company and validated in my work. The only part I didn’t quite enjoy was the mandatory weekend shifts, which didn’t leave me much time to wind down properly.

I’ve since switched careers and currently learn to program now, does that make us colleagues? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Possibly, though I am no coder. I can put a .bat file together if needed, and can sorta pick apart a powershell script if given time, but I am not a coder by any stretch of the imagination.
Yet.
Right now I am needing to get some certs (A+, windows admin stuff, etc) and move up and out. I’m making about 70-80% of average for my field in my region. I just need to shore up some weak points. (I ONLY know windows. No Mac. No *nix. Windows.). I also am trying going to try and learn some Powershell and such, then move on to what seems reasonable next.

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I am a freshman in college and I went to the careers consuling center to get help to deterimine a major becasue I like certain areas of engenierring but dont want to become an engeener but I dont want to do graphic desgin. But I talk to someone who works with the engenerring students at my college and he put me in touch with someone I talked with the someone who runs his own businees in the field that I liked and recommended to me to keep asking questions but he also mentioned a potental major that I think I will put into consinderation. Before everyone comes at me I know its okay to be undecided and that people change their majors but I think its the stigma of being undecided and that sometimes I am the onlystudent in a class who doesnt yet have a major which is not a bad thing it just feels isolating. So I had a good exprince overall with career consuling. BTW the person who I spoke with does not do therpy for other rather helps out students find interships and helps with resumes in the related field.

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Wow great, I’m in the same boat in a lot of ways, thanks for bringing this up. I do have a Psychiatrist, and he’s an M.D. who prescribes my medications. Plus, I also see a “counselor” (a Ph.D. in psychology, so I guess he’s also my “doctor”) weekly. But I don’t have much career guidance. My counselor and I discuss my career (or, lack of one) often, when we’re having our weekly discussion sessions, but I’m not so sure that I’ve come to any understandings. Or, well, no, I HAVE come to understandings, but I haven’t successfully taken any actions that would lead to me being more happy or more productive on the job, or even more employed, since, mostly, I don’t have a job.

Your thoughts about combining career counseling with other types of counseling more closely addressing ADHD (you say “psychologist” for this particular aspect of counseling) are really intelligent, I think. It’s more likely you’ll find this: a person trained in helping clients who have mental conditions, but who also can help with those people’s careers. It’s less likely you’ll find this: a person trained in helping clients who have career difficulties, but who also might help with those people’s mental conditions. I agree! (Took a lot of words to say it, didn’t I? See? It’s difficult to say! You weren’t too wordy!)

That’s partly because the act of helping with mental conditions is rather highly regulated and difficult to learn. In most places in the West, in the developed world, there’s a difficulty and a set of criteria and qualifications which are all associated with it. Psychologists, counselors, shrinks, therapists, other mental helpers, go through a lot of rigor before gaining the knowledge necessary to do that job, as well as before gaining the right to do their job at all. To the contrary, career-guide type people can sign up right now to pretend they’re career-guide type people. (I don’t mean to disparage all career helpers. Many of them are probably very good at what they do. But, as you mention, many of them are actually find-a-job and hiring services, rather than understand-yourself counseling services.) So, for better or worse, it’s easier to claim to be a career helper than to claim to be a psychological helper.

The disparity in qualifications between the two doesn’t matter much. But it does point out something else. That other thing is, that there’s always going to be some sort of issue of social approval going on here. And that’s something that still eludes me, an issue I need to pick at.

If you want to know how to “fit in” better at a workplace, whether or not your “fitting in” is based on ADHD issues or not, then, you’re going to have to talk about exactly what you want to “fit in” WITH in the first place. Therefore, the career-guidance experts generally need somehow to assume, understand, and even accept their surroundings and their social context and social approval more so than a more psychologically based counselor. For careers, for jobs, you’re talking about the essential question of, “How do I make myself into what other people want, for a discrete setting, a discrete situation, a discrete amount of time,” all of which are rather carefully and explicitly defined and identified. Such a level of discrete separation can’t be done with general mental counseling, but that’s a bit of a different issue than what I notice.

The issue I notice, is, that jobs require fitting in. This is something I consistently, but idiotically, forget. I busily work with my counselor(s) and other helpers to try to figure out what it is that I can provide for value, in exchange for money. But I forget that the exchange involves a bunch of social assumptions that are based, not on what’s best, and not on what’s natural human behavior, but rather, on the system as we know it. Right now. That’s it. The only thing that we ADHDers have, to tell us what would be helpful or harmful about the system right now as we know it, is, exactly itself, the system right now as we know it.

And that’s a problem. If an ADHDer doesn’t “fit in” to the system as it stands, what’s he to do? Career counselors, in my experience, have been radically unhelpful on this subject. If I manage to inform them of ADHD (assuming they’ve never had any experience with it; some are better informed than others) and the fact that it causes me to need certain things that aren’t standard for other workers, their usual suggestion is simply, that I must therefore stop needing those certain things, because the more of them I need, the less I will be able to fit in to the typical job place. I haven’t ever gotten them over that hump, and made them stop assuming that I can simply “try” to be more like everyone else, or that I should “try” at all. I can’t, and I shouldn’t have to anyway, but, it takes people familiar with ADHD to be sympathetic toward that plight.

So, yeah, I agree with you, about career-helper versus psychological-helper people. But I also point out, an extension to that idea, which is, that career-helper people are probably more likely to have anti-ADHD or simply non-ADHD assumptions about what is “supposed” to happen at a workplace. They might be friendly or helpful, or at least, they might be trying to be friendly or helpful, but, mostly, they’re going to be barking up the wrong tree. I would really like simply to ask one of them, “Hey, I have ADHD and therefore I hate work. All of it, every bit. Going there, having to go there, coming home, having to come home, meeting people who are stupid, meeting people who are smart, deadlines, lack of deadlines, competition, lack of competition, reading social cues, eating poorly, not having enough time to get my errands done, under-lit lamps and cubicles, allergen-harboring knit carpets, lists of work tasks, time pressure, ALL of it. Get it? So, how am I going to make money? Gotta eat, ya know. Can’t eat for free.” In fact, I’ve tried asking that very question, or a version of it. But, of course, that question won’t get much helpful advice from most people who assume, as most career-helper people do assume, that the system as we know it is the natural best possible system to ever exist and that this system is the thing within which I must fit.

Even if the career-helper doesn’t think it’s “the best” possible system (Panglossian fallacy) nevertheless the career-helper is going to have to think it’s “the” system, and therefore “the only possible” system, so you might as well accommodate yourself to it. In that respect, I disagree with them. It exists, yes, with certain present characteristics, yes. But, must I join it? No. I don’t know how, yet, to stay out of it but still get paid, but THAT’S what I’m looking for. It’s nice of them to help me understand what system is going on out there, among the great unwashed neurotypicals of the world, but just because everyone else ate the lotus, doesn’t mean I have to eat the lotus too. I remind myself, that I am biologically rather predisposed to refusing lotus when it’s offered, and I probably don’t digest it as well as most other people anyway. I’d like to tell everyone this fact, and tell most of them that they should also stop eating their own personal diets of lotus and Soma and acceptance and unhappiness, but I’ve begun to move away from that particular soapbox. Being an evangelist to everyone else takes up too much of my time and energy, and I was never very effective at it anyway. I think I’ll save that time and energy for being a savoir to myself, in terms of income.

Oh and, a caveat about my terminology here. I’ve used the terminology encapsulated in the verb “to fit in” here in this post. And yes, it’s true, that “fitting in” is a large part of my trouble with “work.” But it isn’t a perfect term. There are other aspects that I fail at, and very few aspects that I succeed at. Most of my problems can be collected into that “to fit in” category, but some of them can be collected into the “get bored” or “am sure that I am wasting my life” or even, surprise, “you aren’t paying me, not much or not at all, so why the FFFF should I continue to do this?” and similarly, “since there’s no future and absolutely zero likelihood I’ll ever get advancement up from this menial level, so why the FFFF should I continue to do this?” categories instead. The category that I want my work to fill is simply, “finishing this work will make me feel successful, as someone who has done something he can sign his name to,” and no, I don’t believe I’d value signing my name to TPS reports. Oh, and, of course, also the obvious category, “pays the bills.”

This topic definitely fits in the Toolbox section. But also the Rants section, and the I Need A Hug section, too. :slight_smile:

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Another thought. Our society as a whole (Western, urbanized, typical North American or … etc.) is finding more and more trouble with work-as-fulfillment models and paradigms.

Ten or twenty years ago, if I were to have mentioned that I didn’t like any of the work or workplaces I’d ever been involved in, this would have been tantamount to suggesting I was lazy, a mere dilettante, someone who didn’t take life seriously. I wouldn’t be “allowed” (in a general, assumption-oriented sense) to date attractive women, because they “should” (assumption) find a “better catch” rather than a “dead-end guy.” I wouldn’t, similarly, be “allowed” to think of myself as a success, or to have conversations about investing and long-term strategies with people at dinner parties, or to offer my opinion on the latest movie or the review of a novel that I’d finished recently. So it seemed. It wasn’t that I would seem to be rejecting merely the act of visiting a cubicle for the vast majority of the time in my day, in exchange for an inadequate allowance which barely funded my travel back to the cubicle for the next day. Rather, it was, that I would seem to be rejecting God and Society and Religion as a whole. The vast system of assumptions upon which we all relied, would be castigated and criticized, by my very existence. “What? NOT WORK???!!! Are you lazy, or are you a violent offender or are you just diseased?” would be the typical response. In any case, it would be gross disapproval.

Now, it’s more likely that people in general will accept the anti-work assumptions, though it might still meet with disapproval. People are saying, not, “are you diseased” as much as, “I’ve heard about a lot of people who have the same disease” or even “the same trouble.” Maybe getting a law degree was helpful for me, because it gives me a sense that I have proven my worthiness – it’s something a lot of people can’t do at all, they fail out, I did my best, I worked hard, I put in the EFFORT in exchange for the REWARD – but, generally speaking, I feel more approval than I used to.

This video from the Atlantic has some similar discussions https://youtu.be/HAPQnCBnOLc and I think as a group our society is ceasing to assume so much of the old stuff. Maybe social attitudes are changing for the better? Probably for the better as far as ADHDers are concerned, at the least …

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Wow! That’s an amazing video - kind of sums up where I’ve felt for a long time that things are going wrong.

It’s good to see that it’s not just an ADHD thing, that it’s something that seems to be affecting the majority of people in western economies. If it was just us, it would be written off as a “fringe issue,” but instead we have movements across the world like the Finnish government introducing a universal living wage and a four-day working week.

Reckon I’d like to move to Finland. If it wasn’t, you know, a dark, pitiless frozen hellscape for months on end.

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That’s interesting. I’m not sure I could do the IT thing - much as I love working with computers, coding just seems to leave me cold - but what’s fascinating is how much of what you love about your job is the problem solving aspect.

That’s a big one for me, too. Throughout my career in the public service, I’ve noticed that the times I’ve done my best work has been when there’s a problem to solve, or a particularly tough nut to crack. My skill in those times was coming at things from an unconventional angle or finding shortcuts that others weren’t aware of. The end product might not have been particularly clean or tidy, but it would solve the problem and I could happily leave it to others to tidy up.

It’s kind of funny, too. When we organised events or functions, which for some reason often fell to me despite my loathing for organising those sort of details - although if I could get through to the people who manage the conference centre, hotel, or wherever things were taking place, it would be a lot easier - I found that I had by far the most fun when things started going wrong, like discovering at the last minute that the government-issue laptops were incompatible with the display system, or that we had an unexpected number of attendees and not enough seats for everyone. Suddenly, the pressure is on to get the problem solved by any means necessary before the looming deadline.

Everyone else is panicking, and I’m laughing like a maniac, having an absolute whale of a time.

Must remember to discuss that with the shrink…

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I forget my sourcing, it may even have been on this forum, not sure.
There was a study done as a bit of “Making sure the back yard is still there” in psychiatry. They took a bunch of kids, put them in groups of 3. Something like 12 groups had all neuro-typical kids. another 20 or 30 or so groups (maybe?) each had 1 of the 3 kids as exhibiting (but NOT diagnosed, nor treated) symptoms of ADHD. Each group was given 2 difficult (Math?) problems to solve and period of time to solve them in.
The goal was to show that ADHD in a group setting caused disruption. And, in fact, that was found. BUT… they did note something that they were NOT looking for, and thus did not record meaningful data to chase down (although they said it was “worth someone doing another study on”…)…
Of all the Control groups of neuro-typical kids, none solved BOTH problems. Most solved 1 and made good progress on the second, but NONE solved BOTH.
Of the Suspected ADHD Included groups, all but (I think) 3 solved both problems. And, there was still the aforementioned disruption in the group as the Probable ADHD Brain was going off all over the place.
They did some statistics and figured that the ONLY way the target group could be different was the inclusion of the ADHD Brain, and it’s affect on the group is what allowed them to solve both problems. How? Why? No telling. But the numbers they had could not lie.
I really hope someone follows up on it. I think it would be very telling… But here is my interpretation: The kiddo who they think has ADHD is pulling random connections from the ether of their experiences and learning, and basically throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. The Neuro-Typical minds are trained in processed based learning and problem solving, and would not have made the intuitive jump the ADHD brain is making, but once offered and considered, the process can be applied to the new start point and worked from there.

Gee. Almost like have that one oddball on the team who no-one really gets, but when it’s crunch time and they spout out some idea, it’s good idea to at least consider it. Sometimes it’s garbage. Junk data. But like as not they are on to something, and they just have a hard time tracking it down or explaining it, and getting some trained folks who can get enough meaningful info out to start the process on can result in major leaps in progress.

Cause that is never a trope in media. Or found in real life. Or our work teams.
Ahem.

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Interesting study. As a corollary, it seems to be the case that their pre-study definition of “disruption” in the group might benefit from some tweaking. Sure, the ADHD kids caused SOMETHING in the groups, probably involving interrupting and running around and laughing a lot and fidgeting. That thing might (at one time in the past) have been given the name “disruption,” but since all that fidgeting ALSO (generously speaking) caused both math problems to be solved, at a rate greater than any of the un-disrupted groups, well, shouldn’t we reconsider the name “disruption”? Maybe we should start calling it “giving up on the old hidebound sit-still-in-your-chair bulldookie so that we can actually get something done” or … ya know … since the challenge was set to solve a pair of math problems, and that indeed was done, but only in the context of this supposed “disruption,” why not just rename it. Maybe call it “success.” Or “genius.” Or “proper way to handle groups.” Or “people who sit still are boring AND we just proved they’re stupid TOO.” Because, you see, if a non-ADHD-seeded group’s behavior leads to a failure to solve both math problems, even though the group has been instructed to try to solve both math problems, then THAT group is the disrupted one. Because “disrupt” means, by definition, “break up from the inside” (or similar) why are we giving the benefit to the neurotypicals? “Disrupt” does NOT mean, “fail to sit still.” It means, “fail to do something that would otherwise be cohesive.” Cohesion in this case was, as defined, double math problem success. So lack of disruption is, in turn, as defined in this case, double math problem success. So disruption must, ergo, be the opposite, which is, failure to solve both problems. So, tah-dah, Q.E.D., the groups without ADHD seeded students in them, were disrupted. They couldn’t do both math problems, BECAUSE they lacked the skill of a fidgeting ADHDer, and therefore should be considered to be the disrupted groups.

We ADHDers are needed, to prevent the rest of the world from failing and therefore being disrupted. We must join in, fidget, make them wrongly think we’re disrupting things, and thereby solve more math problems. It is our calling. :slight_smile:

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With regards to jobs, and I have had many, DIVERSE jobs, usually ending with low self esteem problems. Sound familiar?
I have tried to create jobs that involve creative things I love to do (Home Staging business) but I have been unsuccessful in getting paid for it regularly. Happy but poor. Is Real Estate a good field for ADD folks? Any out there who could speak to this. I am a newbie Realtor and newly diagonsed ADD.
By the way, ADD Job counsellors near Boston get $175 per 50 minutes. I can’t afford that, recommendations…Thanks Brains.

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