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Navigating ADHD Treatment: A Comprehensive Program for Adults

If you have Adult ADHD, you may be wondering what your next step is. Navigating through ADHD isn't usually a very easy process; but with this program, things should be a lot more smoother.

This program is meant to be done with the help of a therapist who specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy. It was created by experts at Massachusetts General Hospital based on their experience, feedback from adults with ADHD, and existing research on treating ADHD in adults. It's designed for people who have been diagnosed with ADHD, are taking medication for it, and have found a medication routine that works for them. While the strategies might help those who can't take medication, the program has only been tested on people who were already taking medication.


Has This Program Been Successful?

New research on treating ADHD in adults shows that a program from Massachusetts General Hospital really helps. In the study, some people did this program along with taking their ADHD medication, while others just stuck with their meds.

The ones who did the program had way fewer ADHD symptoms afterward. Experts checked their symptoms, and the participants themselves reported feeling much better. Those who went through the program saw their symptoms drop by about half, while those who didn't do the program didn't see much change.

Later on, they did a bigger study that lasted five years. They compared the program plus medication to another treatment that used relaxation techniques and support with learning. The group that did the program had fewer ADHD symptoms and more people improved compared to the other group. These good effects lasted even six and twelve months later.


What Will the Program Entail?

Regular Meetings with Therapist and Home Practice

This treatment program involves meeting regularly with a cognitive-behavioral therapist and doing assignments at home. We've found that having weekly sessions works best because it gives you a chance to practice the skills you learn each week. It also allows for quick problem-solving and answering any questions you might have. When sessions are less frequent, like every other week, people tend to forget what they're supposed to do on their own.

Practice Is Essential

The program is designed to be a collaborative effort between you and a cognitive-behavioral therapist, with additional practice assignments to be completed at home. Research has shown that weekly sessions tend to yield the best results. This frequency allows for consistent skill practice and provides an opportunity to address any challenges or questions that may arise in a timely manner. In contrast, less frequent sessions, such as bi-weekly meetings, can pose difficulties as individuals may struggle to remember and implement strategies between sessions.

It's important to note that this treatment differs from traditional therapy. Rather than a purely supportive approach, it's structured more like an educational course, with each session featuring a specific agenda and associated homework assignments.

Consistent practice is emphasized throughout the program, as integrating new skills into daily life can be challenging, particularly for individuals with ADHD. Your therapist will work with you to establish and reinforce habits that support ongoing skill utilization.

Don't Quit!

It's common to encounter moments of frustration or temptation to quit, especially during the middle stages of the program. This is a critical juncture where initial excitement may wane, yet the skills have not yet become ingrained habits. Persisting through these challenges is vital to achieving lasting change.

The treatment program is divided into three main modules: organization and planning, managing distractibility, and cognitive restructuring (adaptive thinking). Additionally, there's an optional module focused specifically on addressing procrastination.

Organization and Planning

The first step of the treatment includes learning how to organize and plan for things. Some things you'll learn are:

  • How to effectively and consistently use a calendar

  • How to effectively and consistently use a task list

  • Work on problem solving skills (breaking things down into steps, finding best solution when there isn't a clear one)

  • Develop a triage system for mail and papers

Managing Distractibility

The second part is managing distractibility. Some skills learned will be:

  • Figuring out a reasonable amount of time you can expect to work on boring or difficult tasks, then breaking down tasks to that amount of time.

  • Using a timer, cues, and other techniques

Cognitive Restructuring

The third part involves learning to think of problems and things that stress you out in the most adaptive way possible. This includes:

  • Positive self coaching

  • Learning to identify and get rid of negative / unhelpful thoughts

  • Learning how to be rational when looking at problems

  • Learning to identify and change "overly positive" thinking

Regular monitoring of progress is integrated into the program, typically through the use of a checklist completed at the beginning of each session. Additionally, setting an agenda for each

therapy session ensures that important topics are covered systematically.

Key information is reiterated throughout the program to facilitate learning and retention. Moreover, strategies for remembering to take prescribed medication are addressed to ensure adherence to treatment plans. Through collaborative efforts and consistent practice, individuals can develop effective coping mechanisms to manage ADHD symptoms and improve overall functioning.

Wrap up

In summary, these studies highlight the clear benefits of adding cognitive-behavioral therapy to the treatment plan for adults with ADHD. By blending structured therapy sessions with regular home practice, individuals can effectively learn and apply essential skills to manage their symptoms. The results show both immediate symptom relief and long-term improvements that extend beyond the treatment period. This comprehensive approach not only targets ADHD symptoms but also equips individuals with practical strategies to overcome daily challenges. Emphasizing persistence and consistent practice, this treatment offers hope for those seeking lasting relief from the impact of ADHD.

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