Should Your Child Have Psychotherapy as Part of ADHD Treatment?

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Psychotherapy is often touted as one of the methods for treating ADHD.
    How do you know if this type of treatment is right for your child?

    What Is Psychotherapy?

    Psychotherapy works to create changes in someone's life through
    communication. Psychotherapy can be helpful to someone having
    difficulties with either emotions or behaviors. Psychotherapists use
    mostly talk therapy when working with adults. With children, however,
    additional methods, such as play therapy, pretending, or drawing and
    art therapy may be used to help improve communication and discuss

    Therapy may help children and adolescents in several ways:

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    • Conflict resolution
    • Receiving emotional support
    • Finding new solutions to problems
    • Improving relationships
    • Improving self esteem
    • Understanding problems
    • Changing behaviors
    • Learning relaxation techniques
    • Improving social skills

    Therapy should be specific to your child's and your family's needs.
    Therapy can be individual, with only your child attending therapy. Or
    it can also include family counseling, with parent training classes,
    conflict resolution and an emphasis on learning to accept one another
    and work together. Therapy can also be offered for individuals or in a
    group. The type of therapy you choose must be based on your individual

    Different Psychological Approaches

    When treating a child with ADHD, psychologists can serve different
    purposes. Some of the approaches a psychologist may use:

    Emotional Support

    Sometimes therapy does not specifically address the core symptoms of
    ADHD (inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness) but rather works
    to help a child or adolescent deal with emotional difficulties that
    may happen because of these symptoms. Feelings of helplessness or
    incompetency can lead to low self-esteem. Psychologists can help
    individuals deal with the emotions that occur as a result of ADHD

    Behavioral Therapy

    One of the core treatments for children and adolescents with ADHD is a
    behavior modification program. Psychologists can work with children to
    target a specific behavior, develop strategies to help create more
    positive behaviors and monitor progress on a regular basis.
    Psychologists will normally choose one or two behaviors to work on at
    a time and may work with parents as well to come up with discipline
    procedures for home to help create a more positive environment.

    Social Skills Training

    Children with ADHD frequently have trouble with social skills, not
    understanding personal boundaries, interrupting others or monopolizing
    conversations. Difficulties with making or keeping friends can cause a
    child to feel worthless. Psychologists can work with children in
    developing healthy, positive social skills.

    Anger Management

    Some children with ADHD are prone to emotional outbursts and may have
    a low tolerance for frustration. Psychologists can work with children
    to develop specific strategies to help them better cope with
    disappointment or frustration.

    Parent Training

    Sometimes the psychologist will work directly with the parent in
    developing behavioral programs to be implemented in the home. These

  • behavioral programs can help create a more positive relationship

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    between the parent and child, help the parents better understand ADHD
    and create lifelong skills for managing ADHD behaviors.

    Questions to Ask a Therapist

    When a child is referred for psychological treatment, parents may not
    know what to expect. The following are questions parents should ask a
    therapist to help understand the process:

    • Why was therapy recommended?
    • What should I expect from therapy?
    • Who will be involved in the therapy? Is this therapy for my child or
      for the entire family?
    • How often should my child be seen?
    • How long is therapy expected to last?
    • What are the specific goals of therapy?
    • How can the results of therapy be measured?
    • How soon can I expect to see results?
    • How often will parents be updated on the child's progress?

    Parents should ask for an initial consultation with the therapist to
    go over these questions, as well as any additional questions the
    parents may have. It is important for the parents to feel comfortable
    with the process of therapy, this will help the children feel more
    comfortable and gain more from the sessions.

Published On: August 27, 2009