Should Your Child Have Psychotherapy as Part of ADHD Treatment?
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:
- 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:
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
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.
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.
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
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.