ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is a condition that affects about 4.4% of adults. Inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness are characteristic trademarks of this condition. Adults with ADHD may be unusually forgetful, have difficulty sticking to one task, struggle with organization, and even have trouble sitting still.
An ADHD therapist can provide patients with the tools they need to manage their condition and make positive changes in their lives.
If you or a loved one has ADHD, working with an ADHD therapist can help. An experienced professional can help you develop the skills and strategies you need to manage your symptoms. Individuals who have never worked with a therapist can benefit from understanding the diagnostic process, which treatments are available, and what to expect during therapy sessions.
What to Expect When Working with an ADHD Therapist
Diagnosis of ADHD
Diagnosis is the first step to working with an ADHD therapist. There is no single test to check for ADHD. A comprehensive evaluation is needed.
For adults, the process may involve:
- Gathering details about your past and current functioning
- Using Behavior Rating Scales
- Checking your symptoms against checklists of ADHD symptoms
- Talking to friends and loved ones who know you well
Your physician may also want to check to see if any medical conditions are causing your symptoms.
Once you have a formal diagnosis, you can move on to the next step: choosing a therapist.
Choosing an Adult ADHD Therapist
Selecting an ADHD therapist is not a decision that should be taken lightly. After all, you will be working closely with your therapist to manage your condition and make positive changes in your life. For this reason, it’s important to find a therapist you can trust and with whom you feel comfortable.
When searching for a therapist, a great place to start is your doctor. Your primary care physician may be able to recommend therapists specializing in ADHD.
Recommendations from friends and family can also go a long way in helping you find the right therapist.
If you cannot find a local professional, you can find an ADHD therapist online who is more than qualified to provide the help you need.
Here are a few things to look for when searching for an ADHD therapist for adults:
- Qualifications. Make sure the therapist is licensed by the state. Ideally, they should specialize in ADHD. Professionals who specialize in ADHD treatment have extensive knowledge of the condition and have helped other patients who are just like you.
- Experience. Qualifications are crucial, but experience is also important. A seasoned therapist will have worked with other individuals who are in similar situations to yours. They know how to confront and overcome challenges you may face along the way because they have been there before.
- Personality. A therapist can have all of the right qualifications and experience and still be the wrong choice for you. You should feel comfortable talking to your therapist.
When searching for a therapist, always trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, then it’s okay to try working with another professional.
What to Expect During the First Session
Once you have chosen a therapist, it’s time to prepare for your first session. In most cases, the first meeting with a therapist is all about gathering information.
Your therapist may ask:
- What brought you here
- Whether this is your first time in therapy
- What issues would you like to work on
- What are your goals for therapy
You may be asked to give a brief account of your personal history, including information about your family, relationships, and your lifestyle.
Being as open and honest as possible will help your therapist find effective strategies for treatment. During this session, you will also have an opportunity to ask your therapist questions.
Choosing Proper Therapy Techniques and Treatment Options
Therapists who specialize in ADHD will recommend the most effective treatment options and therapy techniques. However, it is you who will have the final say in which direction to take.
For adults with ADHD, the most common and effective treatments include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to change negative thought patterns and how you feel about yourself and your symptoms.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which is a talk therapy that focuses on life’s emotional and social challenges. Patients learn self-regulation skills that can help with ADHD symptoms.
- Medications, such as stimulants or non-stimulants.
Often, treatments involve a combination of therapy techniques and medication.
Regular Appointments and Progress
Once you and your therapist have developed a treatment plan, you will continue to attend regular appointments and follow the plan. Along the way, you will evaluate your progress to see if your strategy is working and if you are making improvements in your life.
Making Adjustments to the Treatment Plan
There are few guarantees in life, but one of them is that things will change. As your life changes and as you progress, you may make adjustments to your treatment plan. If things aren’t working or you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall, making changes can help pivot your treatment back in the right direction.
Remember that your therapist is there to help you succeed. If things aren’t going as planned, you can work together to get things back on track.
Treating ADHD can be a challenge, and it will take time. You may face roadblocks along the way and have to make changes to your treatment a few times as you make progress.
For this reason, it’s important to celebrate your success. Small wins add up to big victories over time.
Celebrating your successes will:
- Keep you motivated
- Boost your self-esteem
- Fill you with positive, uplifting energy
No matter how big or small, make it a point to recognize your accomplishments on your journey.
Working with an ADHD therapist is a multi-step process that begins with a diagnosis. Once you have found the right therapist, the next step is to develop a treatment plan and make adjustments along the way to ensure you reach your goals. Your therapist will act as your guide and help you develop the tools you need to succeed.
While there are self-help options available for ADHD, there is no substitute for professional help. If you follow recommendations and remain patient, you are sure to reach your goals for treating ADHD.