Living with ADHD is a true struggle for the modern adult, especially when society demands self-disciple and productivity at all times. Due to impulsiveness, short attention span, and little self-control, a person with ADHD is often stigmatized by their peers, doesn’t fit in classical academic frameworks, and experiences job insecurity.
A lot of people who are perceived as “lazy” or “chaotic” are, in fact, dealing with a form of ADHD. Up to 60% of children diagnosed with ADHD grow up with difficulties in social interactions and self-control. In the U.S., 8.1% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD. This percentage is expected to rise in the future, as children and teenagers with symptoms will likely enter adulthood with them too.
Even though the numbers are scary, in reality, ADHD can be managed through in-person or online therapy. The most effective forms of treatment at the moment are medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. Let’s see how therapy for ADHD can help you benefit from having a divergent mind.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is short for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a neurological condition. It involves an unequal development of the brain lobes and imbalances in neurochemical production.
What does that actually mean?
Parts of the brain that are responsible for discipline, directed motivation, and auto control are less developed than the parts of the brain processing emotions, ideas, and senses. Plus, neurotransmitters that regulate mood, drive, and attention have lower levels in the brain of someone with ADHD than in a neurotypical one.
All of these result in 3 main concrete patterns that signal ADHD in children, teens, and adults:
Inattention – It appears as difficulties staying on a task for a given period of time, lack of organized effort, and problems sustaining focus even though the requirements are fully understood.
Hyperactivity – It shows up as a constant need for movement regardless of context and extreme restlessness, such as excessive tapping, talking, and fidgeting.
Impulsivity – It means acting without pre-consideration, difficulties with self-control, and fearlessness. It can manifest as a need for an instant reward, problems foreseeing long-term effects of their decisions, and difficulty in delaying gratification.
ADHD can be recognized as early as the age of three with attentive care, but it can be diagnosed at any point throughout life, usually due to academic or employment failure. Most parents arrive in a specialist’s office with concerns of autism, but specific tests can distinguish between the two.
The causes of ADHD are not yet known, but existing literature links it with genetics, certain brain injuries, premature birth, brain structure, and drug or substance abuse during pregnancy.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD develops with the natural growth of the brain and manifests differently for children, teenagers, and adults.
ADHD in childhood is signaled by long-lasting patterns of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity, often linked with high sensitivity, low social skills, and anxiety. A child with a divergent brain will have difficulties completing homework and concentrating in class, will not be able to sit quietly, and will get frustrated easily by delayed gratification.
In adulthood, ADHD manifests through relational difficulties caused by impulsivity, inefficient long-term decisions, and inattention. The aspect of life most affected by having a divergent brain is job stability because an adult with ADHD could not perform well in common desk jobs. Most of them change several career paths until they find an optimal solution.
ADHD symptoms are easier to keep under control with proper therapy for ADHD. Either in-person sessions or online therapy will help you become more aware of unhealthy patterns and change them. A consistent process in behavioral therapy for ADHD will help you feel more motivated and focused and less lonely.
What Can I Expect From Online Therapy for ADHD?
People with ADHD are neither flawed nor lazy but experience a different pace of life. This means that while low on discipline and structure, they excel in creativity and original thinking. ADHD therapy for adults aims to highlight the abilities of the neurodivergent and not their lows.
Therapy for ADHD also includes strategies for managing impulsivity, optimizing attention span, and creating an optimal rhythm to control hyperactivity. A successful therapy process for divergent minds consists of both acceptance and personalized change of behaviors.
Doing classic or online therapy for ADHD is, generally speaking, like any other therapy process. A good therapist will welcome you with empathy, making space for anything you bring to the table. It's a judgment-free zone where you may be yourself, with all the confusion, movement, talking, defocusing, and impulsivity that entails.
A big part of efficient therapy is a strong client-therapist connection. In a well-tuned interaction, you will experience a healthy, respectful, and warm therapeutic relationship, regardless of the theoretical approach of the therapy you are doing.
On top of empathy, connection, and presence being part of any modern therapy, there are several therapeutic approaches you can choose from. Here are the characteristics of the main types of therapy for ADHD.
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Cognitive behavioral therapy for ADHD
This is the most frequently used form of therapy in cases of neurodivergent individuals. At its core, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to identify and change unwanted thinking patterns and their linked behaviors.
It uses worksheets, exercises, and homework in order to promote change of a specific behavior or habit. In this approach, the therapist will be an active factor, will give you explicit guidance, will “teach” you strategies to cope with ADHD, and praise you for “desired” behaviors.
Strategies that a cognitive behavioral therapist may suggest include: taking short, frequent breaks from work, organizing big tasks into small steps, creating a stable routine, using a calendar or organizer to schedule future tasks, and writing down and answering questions about a text.
Because the therapist takes the place of a kind, empathetic teacher, you’ll be able to try some of these activities in your session and have to keep them up to your next appointment. You’ll also be able to adjust these strategies to your everyday lifestyle and come up with new ones.
This approach is often used for its short to medium length and for its applicability to specific behaviors, such as procrastination or poor financial management.
Supportive therapy for ADHD
This approach aims to reinforce and adjust the existing coping mechanisms and resources of a person. The therapist will focus on bringing you awareness of your own efficient coping mechanisms, encouraging you to use the healthy resources you already have.
This therapy is more client-driven and works on singular symptoms at once. It can be very soothing for high levels of anxiety and increase motivation. The therapist provides guidance in a more subtle way – through questions and directives toward examples of coping skills that helped you in the past.
Because it is a symptom-focused therapy, you will also work on organizers, worksheets, and exercises to replace unwanted habits with healthy ones, For example, replacing procrastination with an organized time schedule.
One of supportive therapy’s goals is to reduce personal stress and discomfort, so concrete workloads and homework may not be as intense as in CBT but combined with an empathetic and understanding attitude.
Another goal of this therapy is to cultivate your independence and help you find new ways to cope with the hyperactivity and focus difficulties of ADHD. This is a short-to-medium-term therapy that can help you build better self-esteem and deal with real-time symptoms.
Online Therapy vs. In-Person Therapy
Online counseling is not very different from in-person counseling in terms of working manner or processing. The differences are more of the administrative kind and involve costs, accessibility, therapist options, and travel requirements for sessions.
Online therapy has gained a lot more popularity lately thanks to its ease of use and reduced costs:
- Reduced rates due to the therapist not needing to rent an office
- Higher variety of therapists to choose from, not only those in your city or region
- Easy accessibility from your home, work, or even when traveling
In cases of a particular therapy for ADHD, internet-based interventions are giving promising results on a long-term basis, as stated by a recent study. Just like classic therapy, online therapy can reduce ADHD symptoms in adults and maintain results as long as 6 months after treatment.
So Should I Try Online Therapy for ADHD?
ADHD in adults is rather common and has a lot of stigma surrounding it. But there are also a lot of treatment options available. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll learn to manage hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, and difficulties that can come along with them.
Online counseling is a modern option you can access straight away, wherever you are, and at a reduced cost. It can make a great difference in terms of organizing skills, anxiety, and socializing abilities.
Here at DoMental, you can find a licensed therapist to listen to you, help you go through everyday difficulties, and finally find efficient strategies to organize.