Adult-ADHD

Support for procrastination, Executive functioning & Problem-solving

Adult ADHD

ADHD, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  The latter designation has fallen out of favor and is no longer used in current diagnostic guides.  Regardless, the key features of ADHD are hyperactivity and distraction with some individuals experiencing predominantly one or the other or both.  

For many of those who seek treatment, we find that it less pathologizing to approach ADHD as a “disorder,” and find it helpful and healthy to build on any strengths. 

We neither romanticize the experience of ADHD or pathologize it as a disorder.  Real life experience of ADHD falls somewhere along a spectrum depending on individual struggles, challenges and accomplishments. Certainly, research demonstrates that some find it an impairment in romantic relationships and a struggle in everyday activities that others take for granted.

Unfortunately, ADHD treatment is still emerging from a focus primarily on children.  Many adults still find it hard to obtain a diagnosis or recognize that their challenges which are often burdened with shame-based or moralistic appraisals are the result of underlying neurological patterns.  Interestingly, many of our clients discover after therapy that many of their traits associated with ADHD actually reflect underlying autism or other neurodivergence.  This is why we have not one, but two active therapy groups dedicated to ADHD, autism and other neurodivergence (e.g. bipolar).



 

What Kind of Support is there for Adult ADHD?

Addressing the REAL issues not always found in formal diagnoses:

  • Education and understanding around ADHD particularly as that is experienced outside provider offices.
  • The intersection between ADHD, anxiety and cPTSD (trauma).
  • Exploring ambiguous and/or persistent feelings associated with  shame, being depicted as “lazy,” untrustworthy or forgetful. 
  • Practice with boundary setting particularly with respect to family tension or misunderstandings.
  • Exploring identity in a way that is grounding and satisfying.
  • Managing overwhelm and recognizing internal cues and triggers for stress.
  • Confirming one’s self-diagnosis without the formality and/or expense of a psychological evaluation through validation and self-assessment.

Validating Your Inner & Real Experience of ADHD

Many ADHDers grapple with recurring habits and inconsistencies in their behaviors.  This can make social interactions and expectations very challenging as others don’t understand how one can simply repeat behaviors regardless of endless reminders and apparent ease of strategies.  However, what might appear easy can evade the most brilliant minds because ADHD is not simply about knowing.  The lived experience of many who self-identify or are formally diagnosed as having ADHD can stir up major shifts in self-acceptance and internal loathing.  Unfortunately, many of us are judged by observed behaviors from a neurotypical point of view of “normal.” 

Lived autism experiences-late diagnosis
What autism looks like-Isolated
What autism looks like-Clutter

it can look like many things.  what’s the context and what is the internal experience?

What ADHD Looks Like

Do You Relate?

Identifying and Supporting Lived Experience

  • Falling behind with some responsibilities without being able to employ skills used in other areas
  • Living with clutter
  • Feeling isolated or experiencing isolation despite having many identified friends or colleagues
  • Seemingly contradictory behavior-isolating while craving connection
  • Irritability over relatively small disappointments or changes in routine
  • Losing track of time in conversations
  • Chronic tardiness that can’t be rationally explained (often the same 5-15 minutes).
  • Losing focus
  • Prolonging bedtime and sleep despite fatigue
  • Sitting in the dark while engaging in activities that require good optics
  • Gesturing (a lot) while speaking
  • Speaking quickly and loudly while darting from topic to topic and losing your audience
  • Feeling like the “third wheel” during social activities or conversation
  • Not finishing projects often started in rapid succession

The Debilitating Impact of ADHD

Shape-shifting and prevalent symptoms

Many studies document a link between ADHD and some dysfunction with dopamine and other neurotransmitters such as serotonin and endorphins  in the body’s reward center so that the body delays in registering a sense of reward. 


This can have a profound impact on life functioning and outcomes is areas such as school, work, relationships and overall wellbeing.  This sheds light on how certain activities can be completely energizing and approached with zeal, while others that are perceived as “boring,” (in many instances, cleaning or financial matters) are delayed to the point of becoming hardships that mushroom into many other issues that include poor job performance, chronic unemployment, relationship distress, substance use, and poor health habits.  These can show up in physician offices as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension without anyone the wiser to the underlying ADHD.

 

Strengths-Based Effective Treatment

For these reasons, a text book definition of ADHD out of the DSM isn’t terribly helpful from a treatment perspective.  In real life, those living with ADHD find issues related to executive functioning and affect regulation that can reflect problems connecting with others and organizing life experience that manifests in a coherent sense of Self. 

 

Therapeutic interventions that only see part of the picture and don’t recognize  ADHD can result in poor outcomes especially as ADHD often co-occurs with depression and anxiety and can be easily misdiagnosed as bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, or a substance use disorder. 

The symptoms aren’t always extreme in individuals, but can also be problematic for many adults.  Sometimes inattention and distraction are the main symptoms with less impulsiveness and can show up as dealing with clutter, messiness, time-management, forgetfulness and poor planning. 

Supporting Late Diagnoses

Benefits of therapy

Therapy can help you find relief in an adult diagnosis of ADHD so that you can step away from “victim” mentality or shame-based self-appraisals and have a better and more realistic understanding of why you might react and behave in certain ways in specific situations.  That understanding makes it easier to embrace strategies that can be immensely empowering. 

 

 

Supporting ADHD identity and autonomy

Therapeutic Approach.


Our therapeutic approach to addressing symptoms of ADHD recognizes the cognitive, emotional and physiological aspects of ADHD for many individuals.  It focuses on “real life” presentations not always captured by formal diagnostic psychiatric manuals.  For instance, many clients who come to us for treatment discover that they also have symptoms associated with autism.  (AuDHD).  Their challenges aren’t those of young children and in many ways they are perceived as “successful” and accomplished at the cost of much inner and “unseen” pain in their personal lives.

We focus on helping individuals with ADHD cultivate self-awareness of inner body sensations particularly as they relate to arousal and defensive responses that contribute to trauma related and other symptoms associated with ADHD.   

Being alone with grief

Areas of Treatment Focus

  • Self-awareness and self-acceptance
  • Self-compassion
  • Monotasking
  • Exploring the experience of past, present and future for ADHDers
  • Relationships.  
  • Affect regulation to avoid burnout.

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