Treating adult ADHD with therapy can be a critical component of a ADHD treatment plan. Yet, if you are considering therapy, you may be unsure what criteria to use. It can be overwhelming trying to choose the right therapist, for sure. And I know you want to find someone who is a good fit. Because you don’t want to waste your limited time, energy, and money, right?
Of course, there is no certainty you’ll end up with the right therapist on the first try — one that’s a good fit for you. But, using the information below can increase your chances of finding someone who will work for you. If you’re still deciding whether you need a therapist or an ADHD coach check out my previous post, Confused Whether You Need Therapy Or ADHD Coaching?
Know Your Preferences Before You Hire a Therapist
For the therapy to be effective it’s important the therapist is a good fit for you. Of course, therapists (and coaches) come in different “flavors.” And, obviously, you have preferences and expectations. So, as you vet each therapist, tune into whether the two of you will be “in sync.”
For example, I tend to sprinkle a good dose of humor throughout my sessions. But you might not like my comedic sensibilities. It doesn’t make me wrong or you wrong. Well, it doesn’t make me wrong! 😊 It does mean, though, we might not be a good fit. Makes sense?
The bottom line is when you’re interviewing a therapist (or a coach), listen carefully to the tempo of the conversation, as well as the content. That is, take a beat, and notice how the conversation feels to you. Does it feel comfortable or does it somehow rub you the wrong way?
I know you may just want to get the process over with. But, if you don’t take your time, you may end up wasting more time, energy and money engaging with a therapist who doesn’t work for you. You know that. To avoid this, honor your preferences. And don’t hire someone just because they “sound” good.
How to Follow Through on Choosing a Therapist
Remember, ADHD is a performance issue.
That is, even with all the information, you might not follow-through on finding a therapist. Because most often your lack of follow-through is not a result of lack of knowledge. You know what you need to do. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to increase the possibility you will execute.
First, decide whether there are non-negotiable criteria. For example, does the therapist need to be in-network or are you willing to pay out of pocket? How far are you willing to travel from home/work. Does gender, sexual identity, age, religion, etc. matter? Making these decisions first will decrease your options and make the process easier.
Even after making these decisions, because your other tasks feel more urgent, finding a therapist might fall to the bottom of the list. Happens. To make sure you persist despite your other work carve out time to Take steps toward finding a therapist. Maybe put a block in your calendar.
For example, devote10-15 minutes after lunch every day. Since the time is limited, it might not feel as daunting. The trick is to focus on starting and continual movement forward. Even if you call only one therapist, you will be further along in the process, right?
Once you have a process for following through and know what your non-negotiable criteria are, you can decide what kind of therapy you need right now.
Does Your Therapist Have to Be Knowledgeable About ADHD?
While there are many options for therapy, it is helpful to work with someone who understands how to work effectively with adults with ADHD. So, when interviewing therapists, ask questions, such as:
- How much experience do you have working with clients with ADHD?
- What is your professional/educational background in ADHD?
- What is your approach to working with clients who have ADHD?
- Specifically, what is your approach to helping clients with ADHD meet their goals?
- What is your philosophy of ADHD medication?
As, Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ph.D., a prominent authority on ADHD notes:
For psychotherapy to be effective in treating adults with ADD (ADHD), the therapist must take an approach that keeps in mind the neurological aspects of ADD (ADHD) as well as the psychological issues that develop from a lifetime of being impacted by ADD (ADHD).
Too often, the adult with ADD (ADHD) receives therapy from clinicians who are trained to psychologically “interpret” all behavior. Therapists with psychodynamic training may view an individual’s chronic lateness as “resistance” to therapy rather than considering the possibility that this pattern is related to an ADD (ADHD) time-management problem that needs to be directly addressed on more practical terms.
Working with a therapist who does not understanding ADHD might leave you feeling misunderstood and could hinder your progress.
What If Your Therapist Doesn’t Have a Good Understanding of ADHD?
Over the years I have worked with many clients who have shared with me their experience of working with therapists. Many have found therapists who were a great fit and helped them get to a place of acceptance and readiness to move forward.
However, some of my clients encountered therapists who because of their inexperience with ADHD:
- did not have realistic expectations of what my clients could accomplish in a particular time frame and pushed too hard.
- were confused about my clients’ lack of follow-through and seemed unsure of how to help them.
- treated my clients like they were their ADHD instead of treating them as a whole person.
- did not believe ADHD existed in adults.
What if your therapist doesn’t understand ADHD and how it impacts your functioning? But is helping you in other areas of your life. Talk to them about your concerns. Ask them if they would be willing to learn more about ADHD. You might even suggest a book you found helpful.
But what if their lack of understanding about ADHD is hindering your healing and progress, rather than helping? Then it’s time to move on and look for a new therapist.
What Therapy Approach Is Most Effective for ADHD Adults?
In addition to finding a therapist who understands ADHD, you will also need to decide which therapy approach is right for you. This guide for finding a therapist, Where to Look and What to Ask to Find Therapy That Works for You, is an excellent resource. How to Find a Good Therapist is also a helpful guide.
When treating adult ADHD with therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing specific thinking and behavior patterns is often recommended as an effective form of therapy for ADHD adults.
A lot of choices, I know. The key is to focus on what you need most from a therapist right now. And then choose a therapist who has that expertise.
Treating Adult ADHD with Therapy
Of course, not every ADHD adult needs or wants to use therapy as part of their treatment plan. But treating adult ADHD with therapy can be an effective cornerstone of a treatment plan for some.
So, if you choose this route, it’s important to take your time and do your due diligence. That is, consider what your needs are right now. And take your time so you can maximize your chances of finding a therapist that’s the best fit possible given your resources and available options.