ADHD is characterized by impairing levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, and can occur and be diagnosed in both children and adults. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) was originally developed for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders and is focused on identifying problematic ways of thinking, i.e., cognitions, that contribute to problematic behaviors.
Once problematic ways of thinking are identified, the client is encouraged to evaluate whether their cognitions are accurate and to consider alternative ways for thinking about their situation. As faulty thinking patterns are altered, more adaptive ways of behaving can begin to take shape.
CBT therapy sessions at the Sachs Center focus on psycho-education about ADHD and training in organizing and planning; learning skills to reduce distractibility; cognitive restructuring (learning to think more adaptively in situations that cause distress); and relapse prevention. Everyone needs to have some structure or plan for the day in order to be optimally effective in achieving goals.
Adults with ADHD have difficulty in setting up and maintaining this structure because they are easily distracted by many outer and inner stimuli and impulses and are unaccustomed to planning. This is why we devote considerable effort in the program to the regular use of a planner for scheduling activities and tasks, as well as prioritizing and planning activities for the day, week, month, or longer, and remaining focused on long-term goals.
Many adults who struggled throughout their schooling because of undiagnosed ADHD might think of themselves as stupid, lazy, or unable to learn. One can imagine how these thoughts could lead to poor self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and avoidance of situations that are linked to schooling and education.
At the Sachs Center, our CBT therapists work with clients to develop a more realistic explanation for their academic struggles. In conjunction with helping the client embrace this more reasonable way to think about their academic history, our therapists help the client develop new and more adaptive behavior patterns.