- Is the world moving too slowly for you?
- Do you wish you had more insight into how you are perceived by others?
- Are you struggling with low self-esteem, the sense of underachievement, of not meeting your goals?
- Are you challenged with getting organized or following through?
- Is chronic procrastination or trouble getting started impacting your daily life?
- In social or work situations, do you tend to say what you think, without considering the timing or the appropriateness of the remark?
- Are you intolerant of boredom, frequently searching for high stimulation?
- Do you have trouble focusing your attention with a tendency to drift away or or tune out?
What is ADD or ADHD?
ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) refer to the same neuro-developmental condition that consists of deficiencies in neuropsychological abilities related to either inattention, or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, or a combination of both types of symptoms. There are far more cognitive and emotional regulation deficits linked to ADHD that hide behind these types of symptoms than their names imply.
ADHD is classified as neuro-developmental because the scientific evidence for the substantial role of neurological and genetic causes in ADHD is now overwhelming and irrefutable. ADHD is considered to be neuro-developmental because it is primarily the result of a delay or lag in specific mental abilities and it arises during the developmental course of the individual, most often before 16-18 years of age.
ADHD Executive Functions
The deficits in mental abilities are largely due to delays and/or dysfunctioning in the maturation of the brain areas that underlie Executive Function. This dysfunctioning seems to arise largely from genetics, but can also occur due to damage or other disruptive influences experienced by the individual at any time during development, most often during prenatal brain formation. Executive Functions help people focus attention, control emotions, set priorities, manage time, plan activities, stay organized, and improve memory.
Diagnosed with ADHD as an Adult
Finding out that you have ADHD as an adult can be startling and disorienting. While children’s schools often serve as initial diagnostic screening places, adults have no such equivalents. Workplaces give poor performance evaluations to employees who are underachieving, inattentive, and anger supervisors when they speak without thinking. Spouses begin considering ADHD for the first time when their child is diagnosed with it.
ADHD in adults occurs on a wide spectrum, just like in children. In severe cases of adult ADHD, individuals may be barely able function due to rampant disorganization, uncontrollable impulsivity, or a complete inability to follow through on anything. They may also suffer from secondary symptoms, like depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem. In mild cases of adult ADHD, the symptoms may be hardly noticeable and go undetected even by people who understand this condition. The individuals may have adapted so well, that the issues only impact them in limited ways. These could involve tuning out at meetings, procrastinating on certain tasks, getting angry or anxious without provocation, or experiencing periods of low productivity. Most adults with ADHD are not floundering. It’s very common among successful and creative people in high-energy or high-risk jobs and among people who work on their own.
Counseling Adults with ADHD
Counseling adults with ADHD is different from traditional psychoanalytic therapy in that the therapist becomes more active and directive in helping the clients reorganize their lives. This may include offering concrete suggestions and practical tips on how to get organized, stay focused, make plans, keep to schedules, prioritize tasks, and deal with the chaos of everyday life. The therapist works with the client to help create the necessary structure and accountability.
Treating Adults with ADHD
The treatment of ADHD varies significantly from person to person, lasting from a few sessions to a few years, depending on the severity and complexity of the situation. Sometimes the treatment consists of just making the diagnosis and providing psycho-education. Sometimes the treatment requires much patience and persistence. Sometimes the improvement is spectacular, and at other times it’s very slow and difficult to recognize.
The initial phase of ADHD treatment can be exciting because it involves the discovery of what it means, the insights that it brings, and the life transformations that come with it. However, the struggle usually does not end there for most people. The challenges come up daily, involving issues of organization, impulse control, or distractibility. Often the years of living with undiagnosed ADHD result in impaired self-image, depression, low self-esteem, fearfulness of others, mistrust of self, skittishness in relationships, and anger over the past. It can take a long time to heal these wounds.
How Elaine Can Help
I really enjoy working with adults with ADHD. My specialties in Financial Therapy, Career Counseling, and Gottman Method Couples Therapy allow me to apply treatment approaches related to money, career, or relationships to unique struggles that adults with ADHD face. I also offer Brainspotting therapy to help clients address deeply-held shame, grief, self-esteem and other distress, in a gentle, efficient, and non-invasive way. In my private practice in SW Portland, we explore and address complex issues and emotions that manifest when clients with ADHD encounter financial, career, relationship, and other stresses that impact their emotional well-being.
Assessments for ADHD
I perform assessments for ADHD for adults who would like clarity regarding this condition – https://askcounseling.com/adhd-assessment-adults/
Elaine’s Blog Posts on ADHD
Here the link to interesting articles for my clients with ADHD – https://askcounseling.com/category/adhd-counseling/
Elaine’s ADHD Resources
Here is the link to various resources that I mention to my clients with ADHD – https://askcounseling.com/adhd-resources/