After an Instagram comment spurred me to look into whether I might have ADHD, I was eager to bring up the idea to my longtime therapist at our next appointment. Spoiler alert: I have ADHD.
Many of the books I’ve read recently emphasize how people living with ADHD can significantly improve their relationships, workflow, and even self-image by working with therapists (and coaches) specializing in ADHD.
I’m a huge proponent of talk therapy generally: I can say without a doubt that sessions with my therapist led me to understand and effectively process nearly every significant high -- and low -- of my personal and professional life over the last decade. Though my ADHD diagnosis didn’t come until spring 2021, my therapist has helped me with problems related to my poor executive functioning since day one.
Therapy for ADHD doesn’t seek to cure you of the disorder (spoiler alert: There’s no cure, and I don’t think I’d personally want there to be). Rather, ADHD-focused therapy can help you develop tools to maximize the good things about your complex brain. It also serves to arm you with skills that will aid you in minimizing the fallout from its less positive aspects.
Typically, an ADHD-focused therapy session will help you address the practical and emotional aspects of living with these special brains we were given. Because I worked for decades to hide the negative aspects of living with then-undiagnosed ADHD, I already had created a life reliant on reminders, checks and balances, fake early due dates, routine apps, and more to cover the practical aspects.
For me, the emotional reckoning is what I dipped into months ago, then hid from, and now plan to delve into again. You see, I was so incredibly hard on myself my entire life up until this year. That’s not accurate, actually: I’m still hard on myself, but my therapist is helping me try to reframe my negative self-talk and recognize that many of the “failures” and frustrations I’ve had were related to something out of my control that whole time: my ADHD.
One of many unexpected revelations over the last 6 months was that my therapist himself was diagnosed with ADHD many years ago. I’m tempted to say his diagnosis is a blessing in disguise, but it’s not disguised at all: It’s an obvious bonus for me to be working with a therapist who understands ADHD from both a practitioner and patient perspective.
There’s such comfort knowing the person I’m confiding in and solving problems with understands how my brain works (and how it’s different from neurotypical ones). But don’t worry if the therapists you’re considering don’t share your ADHD diagnosis. As long as they’re familiar with the condition and are skilled listeners, you’ll benefit from therapy sessions focused on how to live with lower overall stress and disorganization.
If you’re interested in learning practical tips for reducing stress (for yourself and those around you), you should certainly look into therapy for ADHD. And if you, like me, inadvertently implemented all the tricks and still feel bad about missed opportunities, patterns of interrupting loved ones, impatience, procrastination, and more, you should certainly look into therapy for ADHD.
As I write this, I’ve come up with a few more things I want to talk about with my own therapist. Happily, I’ll see him first thing tomorrow morning, and I hope to take some good notes during our session.
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