Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) persists into adult life in 10 to 60 percent of childhood cases and adult diagnosis’ are on the rise. Today we’ll explore how counselling can help adults with ADHD.
ADHD is characterised by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity that interferes with functioning or development. ADHD can present as inattentive type, hyperactive type or a combination of the two.
Many people with ADHD have issues with executive functions. This covers a range of emotional, behavioural and reasoning difficulties that can affect planning, problem-solving, organisation and time management. Adults with ADHD may also struggle to regulate their emotions or may over-think things.
Some key symptoms of ADHD in adults include impulsiveness, restlessness or low frustration tolerance. Often adults who have ADHD report difficulties getting started on tasks, variable attention to details, difficulties with self-organisation and prioritisation, and poor persistence in tasks that require sustained mental effort (Gillig, P. 2003).
Why seek therapeutic support?
There are many reasons an adult with ADHD may seek help outside of NHS diagnostic routes. ADHD can impact mental health and wellbeing in so many different ways. Each persons experience is unique in how ADHD feels for them.
ADHD can mean that people find it hard to concentrate or regulate their emotions, or they are hyperactive or behave impulsively. They may be leading a chaotic lifestyle, have trouble at work or even be relying on drugs or alcohol to ‘get by’. There’s also a higher rate of associated conditions (these are called comorbidities), such as anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, BPD. Most of which have counselling as a recommended treatment route.
Treatment for ADHD often involves medication. Many people report that after adult diagnosis the right ADHD medication can be life changing, others can’t or don’t want to take medication. Whether you are taking medication or not, counselling can be a safe and empowering space in which a person can come to terms with their diagnosis. This may include re-framing past experiences and understanding them impact of ADHD symptoms on their day to day life in the present.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) report that ADHD can affect mental health and wellbeing in a number of ways. “There’s often a deep feeling of self-doubt, of not fitting in, of not being accepted or not being good enough. These are based on the negative beliefs attached to difficult experiences and poor interactions that an individual has had, based on how the brain functions with ADHD.” (Watkins, A,. BACP)
Counselling and ADHD
Finding a counsellor who has understanding of neurodiversity can be beneficial in finding the right support. Counselling can help you to find ways to understand and cope with your ADHD symptoms and the feelings attached to them. Often after later in life diagnosis (or self identification), clients will report a period of grieving. This may be linked to experiences that could have been easier, missed opportunities, feeling ‘other’ or ‘different’ without explanation, or lost relationships.
Counselling following diagnosis can play a huge part in helping an individual understand and adjust to this framing of their experiences. Especially for those who have struggled with ADHD symptoms for a long time before being diagnosed. It can help you to process feelings and experiences and can encourage you to think more positively about yourself.
People with ADHD have often experienced the cumulative impact from struggles in work, school or relationships. Feelings of inadequacy, stress and cycles of burn out can have a damaging effect on self esteem. As well as bringing up feelings of failure and isolation.
Experiencing counselling can play a huge role in healing relational difficulties and self blame. The therapeutic relationship between counsellor and client may be the first time an adult with ADHD feels safe to be their true self, without expectation to mask, or judgement from others.
Although counselling is different from ADHD coaching, you may also find that therapy helps you to find your strengths, work-arounds and the systems that work for you. Most importantly, counselling can help you to find the belief that you can become the best version of yourself!
If you think you may want to access counselling with me, please see my website.