Adult ADHD Therapy: Finding the Right Therapist
ADHD Therapy: Understanding Your Options
Therapists might use any number of approaches in treating ADHD in adults. By
far the most common is a technique called cognitive behavioral therapy. This
approach focuses on challenging some ingrained, negative thoughts and learning
how to change your responses to them.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for ADHD is typically offered by therapists -
psychologists, psychiatrists, or social workers. You might have one-on-one
sessions with a therapist, or you might do it in a group. Couples or family
therapy is another option. It all depends on what you need.
While not true therapy, another psychosocial approach is called ADHD
coaching. Coaches are not necessarily trained to help you cope with the
emotional impact of living with adult ADHD, like a therapist is. But coaching
can help you deal with the problems ADHD causes. The focus tends to be very
specific, zeroing in on effective time management and organization.
For many adults with ADHD, treatment is a collaboration. A person might have
a doctor prescribing medication while a therapist or coach (or both) uses
ADHD Therapy Instead of Medication?
Because of side effects and other concerns, many adults are interested in
treating ADHD without drugs. So is therapy alone - without medication -- ever
While ADHD therapy on its own can work well with children, it’s usually less
successful in adults, experts say. One 2008 study looked at the effects of
cognitive behavioral therapy on adults with ADHD who were not on medication.
While it helped, the results were modest. Therapy alone was significantly less
effective than medication and therapy combined.
Ramsay does say that for certain adults who are functioning well and have
very mild symptoms of adult ADHD, therapy by itself may be enough. And in cases
where a person can’t take a medication because of health problems or side
effects, therapy could be the only option. But generally, it’s best to see
therapy as a complement to medication and not a replacement, he tells
ADHD Therapy: Coping With Emotions
Despite all the focus on learning concrete skills, aspects of traditional
talk therapy can still be helpful to people with adult ADHD. Just getting
diagnosed can be profoundly emotional.
“People who have just been diagnosed look back on their life through the
lens of ADHD,” Ramsay says. “They start to wonder about what could have been
different if only they’d been diagnosed earlier. Maybe they could have gone to
college, or followed a different career path, or saved that relationship.”
Some are left with scars after a life with undiagnosed ADHD. “A lot of
people with ADHD grew up being subject to ridicule and criticism,” Goodman
tells WebMD. “They came to believe what people said about them, that they’re
not smart or not capable.” Individual ADHD therapy can be a good way to work
through some of these issues.