ADHD affects millions of people. But there are many effective treatments that can help address it. Medication may be helpful. Therapy can also be a key part of treatment for ADHD. Combining treatment methods may help those with ADHD manage their symptoms. A combined approach could help boost their well-being.
If you think you might have ADHD, a therapist or counselor can help. You may receive a diagnosis. With a therapist, you can learn skills to manage your symptoms. A therapist can also work with children who show signs of ADHD.
Therapy can be effective for treating symptoms related to ADHD. This is because it can help adjust behavior. ADHD may make it hard to regulate behaviors and emotions. Learning healthy coping strategies is one way to gain control over symptoms. Therapists can help people develop plans. In therapy, people may learn to organize and prioritize their life. Planning can be a key area of difficulty for those with ADHD. A therapist might also help a person experiencing ADHD:
Having a hard time with concentration at school or work can be troublesome. Therapy, with or without medication, can help people manage ADHD. It can help them learn to stay focused and manage impulses. Therapy may also show people more about themselves. They may learn which environments and aids can enhance their attention.
Children who show signs of ADHD can also benefit from therapy. Therapists may work with parents, teachers, and the child. One goal of therapy is to help adjust the learning environment. The environment may then better suit the child’s learning style and needs. Try finding a therapist who specializes in these issues. Look for a therapist with experience in attention issues or school concerns.
A therapist can help you learn if attention issues are the root problem. In some cases, behavior issues mask other conditions. These issues could include:
Therapy can help uncover the true nature of the troubling behavior.
Medication is often prescribed as part of a treatment plan for ADHD. It is thought to work best when combined with therapy, which can teach coping skills.
Therapy for behavior and habits can be helpful for ADHD symptoms. A therapist or counselor may help you choose an approach that suits you best. Some common types of therapy known to help people with ADHD are:
- Skills-based therapy. This type of therapy can be helpful for young children. Therapists who work with attention problems may practice this type of therapy. They can focus on helping children learn new skills and time management strategies.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help people change unhealthy habits and thinking patterns. Adults with ADHD may find it helpful because CBT reframes and retrains thought processes. CBT is typically a short-term intervention. Changes are often apparent after a few sessions.
- Traditional psychotherapy. This is also known as talk therapy. It can help with symptoms of ADHD. Talk therapy helps people process thoughts and emotions. People with issues that co-occur with ADHD may find talk therapy helpful. Talk therapy can help with some of these concerns and bring ADHD back into focus.
- Family therapy. ADHD doesn’t just affect those who have the condition. Parents may find parenting a child with ADHD difficult. And when an adult has ADHD, partners and children may feel the effects. Families can learn how to best support each other in family therapy. They can then work together to establish healthy coping skills. These skills may minimize stress and power struggles.
A doctor or psychiatrist may prescribe medications to a person diagnosed with ADHD. These medications are meant to control and manage symptoms of ADHD. They often include stimulants such as methylphenidate or amphetamines. These medicines activate brain circuits that support focused behavior. This can have the effect of reducing hyperactive behavior. Medications may work best when combined with therapy.
Experts recommend using only therapy with children 5 years and younger. They advise using both therapy and medication for children ages 6 to 17. There may be exceptions for unique needs.
- Play therapy for hyperactive 12-year-old. Brian, 12, is brought to therapy by his parents. Brian’s recent behavior frustrates them. He cannot finish his homework and often ignores directions. He is loud, careless, and does not sit still. They tell the therapist they want to try therapy first. If that doesn't work, they will consider putting him on medication. The therapist uncovers deep anxiety in Brian through play therapy. They discover that in class, Brian is well-behaved. The therapist also finds that Brian’s father is often angry. He tends to yell at Brian over even the smallest infractions. The therapist brings this up with Brian’s parents. Brian’s father begins to acknowledge his anger problem. He starts to learn new ways to deal with his son. Brian’s anxiety and resulting misbehavior start to subside.
- Learning disability misdiagnosed as ADHD. Erica, 6, is seeing a school counselor. She cannot seem to stay focused. She is very compliant with school rules. But she can’t complete her assignments unless assisted by an adult. The school counselor refers her to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist prescribes a medicine for ADHD. But Erica’s work does not improve. Finally, she is brought to a therapist. The therapist decides to rule out a learning disability. A specialist is brought in and discovers that Erica is dyslexic. This makes schoolwork difficult for her. She is taken off her medication. Instead, her family, teachers, and school counselor start working together. They collaborate to create a specialized learning plan.
- Adult male who has difficulty concentrating. Dave, 27, has always found school difficult. He found it hard to pay attention for long periods. Often, he felt restless. He now has the same trouble at work. It is threatening to cost him his job. The therapist teaches Dave some relaxation skills. Dave learns techniques for growing his attention span. They help, but they are still inadequate. His therapist refers him to a psychiatrist. His psychiatrist prescribes a medication. This helps Dave increase his ability to focus. However, Dave does not want to stay on the medication forever. He continues to work with his therapist. His therapist helps him increase his attention span through mental skills training.
- CDC publishes first national study on use of behavioral therapy, medication and dietary supplements for ADHD in children. (2015, April 1). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0401-adhd.html
- Treatments for ADHD. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.myadhd.com/treatmentsforadhd.html