ADHD and Therapy: Beyond medication, giving a voice to distraction
As a family therapist who works with parents of children with ADHD, I often stop and ask myself, “what am I doing with my clients in therapy that medication is not doing by itself.” My clients with ADHD benefit greatly from therapy even when it seems they are also benefiting from medication. What are they getting out of therapy that they are not getting from their medication? Here’s one answer: they become able to identify things in their lives that add to their distractibility so they can learn how to reduce the impact of those things on their ability to focus, finish tasks, remember where they put things, etc. If the cause of at least some of the attention issues is external, then medication isn’t enough because medication cannot do anything about the child’s environment. Discovering these external causes can take several hour-long therapy sessions, especially with kids. Knowing the environmental problem is often not enough. The child might need to form his or her own coping mechanisms with the help of adults around them. Even if the cause of the attention issue is internal, medication might still be insufficient because the child might need to form capacities for self-soothing, calming the fidgetiness, and how to escape extraneous thoughts and feelings (anxiety and worry). These are all places that therapy can help to identify and help the family to help the child cope with their ADHD.
A longer description of how therapy can help with ADHD is posted on my “Articles” page.