Trying to decide whether you need therapy or ADHD Coaching? Maybe your ADHD diagnosis is recent and you’re curious about what support is available. Alternatively, maybe you’ve known about your ADHD for quite a while and have just reached your tipping point. That is, you’ve gotten by using whatever compensating strategies you have in your toolbox. Until now.
In either case, whether a new or old diagnosis, you’re tired of working so hard, right? And you can’t figure out how to make the changes you want on your own. If you’re taking medication, maybe you’re still not seeing the changes you want. You’ve also skimmed a few books and/or websites. The ideas sound great. You’ve tried a few. They just don’t stick.
So now you’ve decided to ask for help. Good for you! Really.
Asking for help is a sign of self-awareness, courage, and strength. You’re aware enough to know you can’t figure this out on your own. You have the courage to reach out even though you have a fair bit of skepticism as to whether therapy or coaching can help you. And, despite your discomfort, you have the strength to admit to another person you’re struggling.
You’re hopeful. Hold on to that as you explore your options.
Why Medication Alone Isn’t Enough to Treat Adult ADHD
Before considering the need for support you may have considered ADHD medication. If you are taking medication, it’s likely a stimulant. Makes sense. Because, while stimulant medication is not the only type of medication used to treat ADHD, it is, as Dr. Russell Barkley notes:
… among the treatments that result in the greatest degree of improvement in the symptoms of the disorder, research overwhelmingly supports the use of the stimulant medications for this disorder.
For the 70% – 80% of adults with ADHD for whom stimulant medication is effective, the main benefit is that it corrects a biochemical condition in the brain that interferes with attention and impulse control. And, while the medication is active in your system it will help minimize the impact of your ADHD symptoms, even though the symptoms remain.
Yet, while medication can form the cornerstone of an effective ADHD treatment plan, it’s not enough. Because “pills don’t teach skills.” And, therefore, you may need the support of an ADHD coach and/or therapist. J. Russell Ramsey, Ph.D., co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s adult ADHD treatment and research program posits that:
… with the ADHD medication as a foundation, it’s the psychosocial treatments that come in and finish the job.
Therapy and ADHD coaching are two types of psychosocial treatments. So, which form of support do you need right now? That’s what you’re wondering. Let’s explore what kind of support each can offer you. So, you can make an informed decision about whether to work with an ADHD coach and/or therapist.
Why You Would Decide to Work with An ADHD Coach
It is important, as you consider your options, to recognize your ADHD challenges are performance issues. That is, it’s generally not a matter of knowing what to do. Sure, you could learn new strategies. But, in many cases, you know what to do. So, more information is likely not the magic bullet.
Rather, your executive skills — the skills that allow you to set goals and get things done — are under-developed because of your ADHD. These skills include focusing, organizing, planning, starting and persisting on task, regulating emotions, etc. As a result, in the critical moments when you need to act, you don’t.
It’s frustrating. I know. But the good news is you have a few options to address the challenges you have because of these skill deficits.
The first option is to utilize your strengths as much as possible to reach your goals. As Drs Hallowell and Ratey, authors of Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction point out:
The best way to change a life of frustration into a life of mastery is by developing talents and strengths not just shoring up weaknesses.
The second option, whenever possible, is to hire, barter, delegate or negotiate a division of work so someone else can do the work you find challenging. Offloading work that is just not in your sweet spot sounds pretty good, right?!
The third option, and where an ADHD coach can help you, is to upgrade those executive skills where you are weak but need to use to operate effectively in your various areas of focus. So, you can perform at the critical moments when you need to act — do what you know you need to do.
Why You Would Work with a Therapist to Treat Your ADHD
To get an idea of why you might choose to work with a therapist check out 11 Intriguing Reasons To Give Talk Therapy A Try. Want the reader’s digest version, instead? Generally, therapy can help you uncover and heal from destructive thought patterns, behaviors, and painful beliefs to help you operate better in your daily living.
Perhaps, these are rooted in your experience with ADHD. For example, if you received a late diagnosis of ADHD as an adult, you may be sad and/or angry you did not know earlier. Maybe you are suffering from past (or present) criticism as a result of your ADHD. And have come to believe you’re just not capable of succeeding the way you want.
Whatever the roots of your negative thinking patterns, unhelpful behaviors, and distressing beliefs, they can get in the way of your ability to work effectively with your ADHD. I’m sure you get that. But, by working with a therapist, you can address these and heal. Then you will be in a better place to effectively take the necessary actions to reach your goals.
The type of therapy you choose will be depend on your needs and preferences, of course. If your focus is on changing your negative thought patterns and behaviors occurring in the present, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective form of treatment for ADHD adults. “This approach differs from traditional forms of psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy, which involve recapturing and reprocessing the childhood experiences that may result in current emotional problems.”
Check out The Truth About Treating ADHD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to learn more about CBT.
Should I Work with an ADHD Coach or Therapist First? Simultaneously?
If you’re not working with either a therapist or an ADHD coach right now, you may be wondering who you should work with first. Alternatively, if you are working with a therapist, you might be wondering if it’s advisable to work with both simultaneously.
In my experience there is incredible synergy when people work with me, an ADHD coach, and a therapist at the same time. Because they’re getting their emotional needs met in a much deeper way then they can in coaching. And, as a result, they are in a better place to take advantage of the proactive nature of coaching.
However, you might need to choose between working with a therapist or a coach because of limited resources — time, energy or money. I get that. And you might be leaning toward ADHD coaching because it is more proactive. If that is the case, taking this ADHD Coaching Readiness Assessment can help you decide whether ADHD coaching is a good fit for you right now.
If you determine that you are not ready for ADHD Coaching, you may decide to “shore up your foundation” by working with a therapist first. You can always revisit the idea of engaging the support of an ADHD Coach. We’ll be here when you’re ready. 😊
Do You Think You Need Therapy or ADHD Coaching Right Now?
There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s only important you get the help you need right now. So, take the time you need to gather enough information and make an informed decision. Sure, it will be a leap of faith. But, as I always say to prospective clients, it’s better if it’s an informed leap of faith.