ADHD Therapy Explained

Plus Bonus Guide: How To Find A Therapist

There are different types of ADHD therapy ranging from medication, coaching, diet and dietary supplements, neurofeedback, talk therapy, support groups, and more.

The good news is that there is a rapidly increasing breadth of ADHD research that is bringing to light new ways to combat ADHD symptoms. For example, we learn more every day about improved diagnostics, risk factors, prevention, genetic factors, effective classroom interventions, brain scans, etc.

More importantly, these findings are essential to help us in the fight against Attention Deficit.

This guide will take a look at the most popular (and best researched) therapeutic treatment options for ADHD.

Types Of ADHD Therapy: Stimulant Medication

The most common form of treatment for children, teens, and adults is ADHD medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, Focalin, Strattera, etc. These drugs are produced by the major pharmaceutical companies and are mostly derived from amphetamine salts.

While ingesting too many chemical stimulants would make a non-ADHD individual hyperactive, stimulants tend to have the reverse effect in those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

And while stimulant medication may be sufficient for many ADHD sufferers, they have their drawbacks. These medications can result in side effects such as nausea, insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches, etc.

In addition, these medications may lose their effectiveness over time as the body develops tolerance. They can also be habit-forming, and they can be simply ineffective for some ADHD sufferers.

In my clinical experience, these stimulants tend to be most effective in those with severe ADHD.

ADHD Therapy: Natural And Herbal Remedies

More and more parents are growing leery about over-medicating their children and, as a result, searching for safer, more effective, and more affordable ways to relieve ADHD symptoms.

adhd therapy

The most popular ADD natural remedies are herbal dietary supplements such as Focus Formula, BrightSpark, Synaptol, Focus ADDult, Listol, and Attend.

They contain ingredients (Gingo biloba, Gotu Kola) that boost the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain which increases focus and concentration. They also contain chamomile to help reduce hyperactivity and improve mood. 

Basically, these supplements are natural brain boosters and mood enhancers.

For some, these herbal supplements work alone or, more often, used as part of an ADHD treatment regimen that includes pharmaceutical medication, coaching, therapy, etc.

In my clinical experience, these herbal supplements are most effective in those with mild to moderate ADHD, but I have witnessed their effectiveness in cases of severe ADHD too.

For those without health insurance, they can be a more affordable option compared to the high cost of prescription drugs in the US.

ADHD Therapy: Coaching/Organizational Approaches

There is an old saying: “Pills do not build skills." Medication can treat some of the symptoms of ADHD, but medication does little to build the necessary coping techniques to help ADHD sufferers become successful.

ADHD sufferers need practical and concrete help in improving their organizational skills, time management, completing homework and work assignments, money management, paying bills, maintaining peer and romantic relationships, etc. 

An ADHD coach or a therapist can develop individual interventions to target these specific areas. 

Treatment plans are tailored to each individual but typically include:

- Setting up a reminder system (post-it notes, etc.) that help ADHD sufferers get organized,

- Breaking down work or tasks into smaller parts to assist in their completion

- Learning more about ADHD through books, articles, etc.

- Improving social interaction skills (reducing the tendency to interrupt others, learning about social cues, learning how to read people better, etc.)

ADHD coaches are not necessarily trained to help ADHD sufferers deal with the emotional challenges of ADHD. That is the job of mental health professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, etc.

Types Of ADHD Therapy: Talk Therapy

While building organizational skills is an essential part of becoming successful while managing ADHD, I believe it is also important to deal with the negative emotional impact of living with ADHD, such as low self-esteem, etc.

This is done with the help of mental health professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, etc. Depending on the case, therapy can take the form of individual sessions, group therapy with those facing similar challenges, family or marriage therapy to help mend strained relationships, etc.

By far the most common form of talk therapy is a technique called cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly referred to as CBT. The CBT approach focuses on challenging ingrained negative thought patterns ("I'm not good enough." "I'm stupid." "I'm lazy.") and learning how to change your responses to them.

This is important because many ADHD sufferers, in response to dealing with the lifelong challenges of living with ADHD, often believe they are a "spaz", “stupid” or “lazy.” This can result in crippling self-doubt, particularly in teens and adults, and this must be addressed in order to heal. The good news is that these negative thoughts and emotions can be processed through therapy.

In addition, having ADHD increases the risk of developing other psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety. In such cases, talk therapy should also be an important part of the treatment plan.

How To Find A Therapist

Check Your List Of Preferred Providers

Consult your health insurance book or insurance website which lists healthcare providers by specialty, then contact the providers and ask questions.

For Those With No Health Insurance

If you pay out of pocket you have much more freedom in choosing a healthcare provider, but this option is more expensive.

Professional Directories

There are many experienced clinicians listed on ADDitude and CHADD that come highly recommended.

What To Expect When You Contact A Therapist

Briefly explain your situation and ask if they have experience in dealing with cases similar to yours. A therapist will tell you about their own approach to treating ADHD and give you a brief idea how they might go about treating you, how long the process lasts, etc.

If the therapist feels they may not be a good match for your situation, they will often refer you to you someone they feel is better suited to help you.

What To Expect At The First Session

The first meeting involves a clinical interview in which the therapist asks questions about your history in order to better learn about your situation and therefore how to best help you.

Mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and licensed professional counselors will have state licenses, while coaches are not licensed by states.

Once you ask questions and learn about the the therapist's process, you will get plenty of information on which to make an informed decision. Use your gut instincts. Ask yourself if the therapist is a good match for you, then you'll feel confident that you chose the appropriate person.

ADHD Therapy: A Multi-Treatment Approach

Whether it is medication, therapy, coaching, etc. or other types of ADHD therapy, I feel that the more ammo you have in your arsenal in your fight against ADHD the better.

ADHD therapy comes in many forms, and over time you will find what works best for you. For some, medication alone or coaching alone may be sufficient, particularly for mild cases of ADHD. For others, multiple treatment interventions are more effective.