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ADHD Psychological Coaching: Learning to Cope without Medication

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

Yesterday, there was an interesing program on National Public Radio about ADHD and learning how to manage symptoms without medication. A central role in that is the Clinical Psychologist Coach (Properly trained Clinical Social Workers can perform the coaching) who teaches ADHD subjects how to approach tasks in an organized way things so that they can better focus attention and not be distracted. For example, when homework is finished it is important to clear the desk. It is then easier to study for a test without being distracted by papers from previous assignments.

The coach also teaches how to: 1. Organize and use notebook binders with tabs and sections, 2. Place notes into the correctly labelled section of the binder, 3. Have each page of notes titled with dates and subject, etc.

These and other skills, so easy for many others, are difficult or impossible for children and adults with ADHD.

Many people do not like taking medications for ADHD because of the side effects they create. The most common medications used for this disorder are psychostimulants. Although psychostimulants do improve the ability to focus attention and relieve hyperactivity and impulsivity, they make it difficult to sleep and cause the patient to feel uncomfortable. Medication is no cure for ADHD and the patient remains needing to learn the necessary skills for success at school and work whether medications are taken or not.

Coaching is also used to teach important social skills for patients with ADHD. Those skills can range from learning to focus attention on what someone is saying to avoiding interrupting and calling out.

As with all things in behavioral health, it is only possible to get help if an individual is willing to admit they have a problem. This can be difficult with adults who sometimes want to deny the existence of their ADHD. Yet, these very same ADHD adults experience great problems in their marriages because of the  nature of their symptoms. Denial takes the form of the ADHD individual blaming their spouse for all of the problems in the marriage.

If you have ADHD do not despair, help is available. People witht this disorder can have fully successful lives once they learn how to manage their symptoms.

Your comments are welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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