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Adult ADHD Therapy: Finding the Right Therapist

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ADHD Therapy: Coping With Emotions continued...

“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.

ADHD Therapy: Getting a Therapist

So given that treating ADHD takes some expertise, how do you find a good therapist? Here are some tips.

  • Talk to your doctor. If you’re already working with a doctor - preferably a psychiatrist - he or she may have good advice about whom to see for therapy. Some psychiatrists may use psychosocial techniques themselves.
  • Get in touch with a child psychiatrist. It might sound odd. But Goodman recommends calling a local medical center and asking to speak with someone in child psychiatry. Since ADHD in adults is still not well known, child psychiatrists often have the best grasp on ADHD treatment and can refer you to experts in your area.
  • Try a national organization. “Some advocacy organizations have professional directories online where people can access clinicians experienced in ADHD,” says Ramsay. He recommends CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association).

Once you’ve found a therapist, here are some things to ask - and to mull over.

  • Ask about experience. You really want to have a therapist who has experience in treating people - specifically adults - with ADHD. Find out about their training. In a therapist, look for a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker. Keep in mind that coaching is a more informal treatment and that coaches are not licensed by the state.
  • Discuss the therapist’s approach. There are lots of different therapies that can help adults with ADHD. Try to get a sense of the approach that your therapist will take. Will it be exclusively focused on changing your behavior? Will you be tackling some deeper, emotional issues as well? Does the approach match what you want?
  • Find out what to expect. What are the specific goals of ADHD therapy? How long is it likely to last?
  • Make sure it’s a good fit. Your therapist doesn’t need to be your best friend. In fact, for therapy to work you need to have some distance. But it’s important that you develop an open and trusting relationship. If after a few sessions you don’t get a good vibe, you may want to consider trying someone else.

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