A therapist writing down notes.
The most common forms of therapy for ADHD are behavior therapy and CBT.

Understanding ADHD Therapy

ADHD can cause you to have a lot of bad experiences that take you to a dark place in life most people never encounter. If you have ADHD or you have a child with ADHD, it’s safe to say that you’ve been through a lot. And if you have made it this far without ADHD therapy, that’s an accomplishment.

The good news is ADHD therapy could be the light at the end of your tunnel. This article will explain the different types of ADHD therapy and how they can benefit you.

What is ADHD Therapy?

ADHD therapy is for a person with ADHD or parent of someone with ADHD. A psychologist or counselor conducts the therapy.

When parents of a child with ADHD participate in ADHD therapy, it is called parental training. It’s a mix between therapy and parental lessons. The training helps parents learn how to cope with the unique challenges of raising a child who has ADHD.

What happens in each therapy session depends on the type of therapy and who is participating. A combined treatment of therapy and medication is standard for children ages 6 and up. Because medication can be harmful, therapy is the first line of treatment for children below 6 years of age who have ADHD.

The Different Types of ADHD Therapy

Behavior Therapy

For someone with ADHD, behavior therapy is about putting an end to bad behavior and developing good behavior. However, behavior therapy isn’t just for someone with ADHD.

There are three types of behavior therapy:

  • Parent training: Group of parents discuss everyday problems their children face and strategies to solve them. The training could also be one-to-one or one-to-two with a specialist. Parent training lasts 8 to 12 weeks, the sessions last one to two hours.
  • Teacher training: Teachers learn to cater to the needs of ADHD children in a school setting to ensure they get their education. Sessions last one to two hours every week for four weeks at school or an off-site seminar.
  • Child training: Children with ADHD learn to develop their executive functions. These functions range from social skills to analyzing a situation and acting accordingly. Children might play games in small groups to learn how to work as a team or discuss their behaviors and how they can improve them.

Behavior therapy for children could last an entire year, sometimes for multiple years. Sessions can range from one to two hours at a time.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT addresses the thoughts and beliefs that cause a person to act wrongly or misbehave.

To give you some context, behavior therapy focuses on how external factors affect you, whereas CBT focuses on how internal factors like thoughts can affect you.

CBT has three stages:

  1. Organizing and planning
  2. Coping with distractibility
  3. Cognitive restructuring
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If a child is going to a CBT session, their parents will accompany them except in stage three. CBT is tailored to the age and maturity of the client, so it works for either children or adults.

Stage 1. Organizing and Planning

The first stage usually lasts for four sessions. Clients, whether a child or an adult, are trained on how to form plans and be organized. Most people are at least somewhat organized. Unfortunately, people with ADHD have a harder time developing their organizational skills. A lack of organizational skills can make it difficult to manage your work, home, or finances.

The goal of the first stage is for clients to set goals and become organized. So, during this first stage, someone with ADHD might learn how to use a calendar or a to-do list. For a child, their to-do list might include their chores or their school assignments. An adult’s to-do list could include bills that need to be paid, work-related activities, and errands.

Stage 2. Coping With Distractibility

This second stage of CBT can last two or three sessions.

Like the name suggests, clients with ADHD learn how to cope with distractibility. They become more aware of the factors contributing to their distractibility. Once they become aware of what distracts them and why, they can develop coping techniques. These coping techniques will help them avoid distractions and get things done faster.

A child at school will discover that they get easily distracted during certain times at school. For example, they only get distracted during their math lessons because they think math is boring. They will then learn coping mechanisms they can use specifically when they get bored. The same goes for an adult who could get bored at work.

Stage 3. Cognitive Restructuring

The primary goal of stage three is to help the client become more aware of their thinking processes and how those processes cause problems in their life.

For example, a client might think they can say hurtful things to someone and then expect someone not to say anything back. But when someone does say something hurtful back to them, they get angry.

Stage three will teach a client to recognize how their behavior and thought patterns are the root cause of their anger and altercations with others.

How Can You Find an ADHD Therapy Specialist in Your Area?

If you have a child, ask your school counselor or pediatrician. You could also search the database of an organization like Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) or Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA).

Before agreeing to work with a specialist, ask questions about their unique approach to therapy. Ask how long they have been providing therapy and what type of clients they prefer.