Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is one of the well-studied neurodevelopmental conditions that begin in childhood and may proceed into adulthood. More often, ADHD cases diagnosed in adulthood were missed in childhood. While the risk factors and causes of ADHD remain largely unknown, and the condition has no 100% cure, it’s quite manageable.
Adults with ADHD have several options when it comes to managing ADHD symptoms, including self-help techniques and setting up routines and habits. In adverse cases, the doctor may recommend a treatment plan comprising ADHD medication and therapy.
However, patients are often advised to embrace therapy as a long-term tool for managing the condition. In the sections below, we’ve discussed the four main ADHD therapy options for adults.
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Unlike most specialized psychological treatments, cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT has been proven to be quite effective for a wide range of behavioral conditions. Besides being a great therapeutic intervention for ADHD, it’s also used for patients with anxiety disorders, depression, drug use problems, eating disorders, marital problems, and even adverse psychotic disorders.
Some key areas that CBT seeks to improve include the patient’s quality of life and cognitive functioning. Trained psychologists or therapists work with the patients to understand their thinking patterns, behavior issues, and the motivations for their actions, thoughts, and behaviors.
A typical CBT treatment involves modern techniques designed to help the patient:
- Learn to identify their distortions of reality or thinking causing problems and to find new ways of re-evaluating them.
- Gain a renewed and better understanding of their behavior, actions, and respective motivations.
- Leverage problem-solving techniques to cope with stressful or difficult life situations.
- Build a greater sense of self-acceptance and confidence in their own abilities.
Additionally, the therapist may modify the patient’s behavioral patterns by helping them face their fears and inner insecurities instead of avoiding them. Patients are also taught techniques to calm their minds and relax their bodies during anxious or intense situations.
This type of therapy helps patients participate in day-to-day life activities such as work, self-care, social interaction, leisure, etc. The main focus is often to modify the patient’s workplace/environment or help them build specific skills to engage better.
And while this field of therapy needs further research, it’s already proving effective for a significant percentage of ADHD patients. There are several ways in which occupational therapy can chip in to minimize the impact of ADHD symptoms on the patient’s quality of life. For instance, it can help:
- Establish routines and create structure, helping patients become more organized.
- Enhance social interaction by promoting controlled or ideal social behaviors. Family members can also be educated on how to socialize and interact with the patient.
- Boost the patient’s stress management techniques, e.g., by introducing meditation and mindfulness classes.
- Monitor sensory stimulation and advice on the best techniques to cope with adverse side effects.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
As the name suggests, this alternative treatment combines mindfulness meditation with cognitive therapy. The goal is to help patients learn coping techniques that keep them in an active and alert mode so they can disrupt automatic thought patterns often associated with negative thoughts, low mood, and depression.
Therapists using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or MBCT aim to help patients recognize that their sense of being is separate from their moods and thoughts. This disconnection aims to liberate participants from frequent thought patterns and disarm their negative moods.
Besides teaching patients the critical differences between thoughts, feelings, emotions, behaviors, and motivations, the therapy also equips them with various meditation techniques such as yoga, breathing meditations, body-scan meditations, and more.
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Coaching and Counseling
Adult ADHD therapists commonly use behavioral coaching and psychological counseling alongside the other ADHD treatment options. Adult patients often have a lot going on in their lives. They need support to cope with work duties and family responsibilities and accept and embrace life realities.
In some instances, adults with ADHD may need help working on broken relationships or committing to life or career goals and personal growth. This is where counseling and coaching help the person initiate change, build motivation and learn practical skills.
Both coaching and counseling can be conducted in-person, by phone, online, or through email and text messages. Most sessions last about an hour or two and involve evaluation to measure progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed.
Benefits of ADHD Therapy for Adults
Like medications which often act as the first-line treatment, therapy for ADHD adults is also quite popular and highly preferred among physicians. Here’s why:
- They don’t have side effects and can be customized to suit each patient’s needs and unique conditions.
- ADHD behavioral therapy for adults boosts the person’s quality of life and helps them to cope with life challenges caused by the condition.
- Mindfulness improves the patient’s brain function, helping enhance their emotional regulation and attention control.
- ADHD coaching, occupational therapy, and psychological counseling target practical life areas such as time management, goal setting, problem-solving, planning, etc., helping patients overcome obstacles in everyday life.
It’s worth noting that therapists and counselors can mix and match any ADHD treatments for adults in search of a customized plan that will work for each patient. This level of flexibility allows for convenience and makes it easy to implement strategies to manage the ADHD condition better.
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The best therapy for ADHD adults is often achieved through a combination of behavioral/psychological counseling, medication, and skills training. However, medical intervention isn’t ideal for long-term use and should only be used in severe conditions.
Additionally, supplemental tips help improve the management of ADHD symptoms. These include regular exercising, getting enough quality sleep, maintaining healthy eating habits, and encouraging the patient to join a support group or network of people with ADHD.
To treat ADHD successfully, getting the right diagnosis and working with an experienced ADHD doctor to ensure a personalized treatment plan is necessary. Hope is not lost if you or your adult family member is diagnosed with ADHD. Talk to a licensed therapist or consult with a doctor for further guidance.