For some, it’s an easy question to answer. For others, not so much.
Those in the latter group have various reasons for not working with a therapist:
- I don’t need psychological help; I just need someone to fix my brain so I can stop procrastinating.
- I can’t afford therapy.
- There aren’t any therapists in my area.
- I don’t feel comfortable talking to a complete stranger about my problems.
- I’m embarrassed to tell people I see a therapist.
- I don’t know what to expect; I’m afraid to go.
Rarely have I worked with a woman with ADHD who did not have unresolved, emotional issues surrounding her ADHD. We know from research, that more than ½ of adults with ADHD also have co-existing conditions such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, trauma, etc. Untreated, those alone can create tremendous pain and anguish.
Those who seem to mainly have issues with their specific ADHD symptoms, i.e inattention, impulsivity, procrastination, problems with time management, relationships, etc., often can benefit from therapy. Why? Because growing up with untreated ADHD often creates problems with low self-worth, poor decision making, poor self-esteem. I see this in their relationships: “I’m not worthy because I’m not ‘normal’, so I’ll stick with this person even though they are critical, abusive”, etc.).
Without proper treatment for ADHD, symptoms can get entirely out of hand. Adults lose jobs, marriages, friendships, and whoa…so much more. And what a hit that takes on your self-esteem!
I personally feel that just about anyone, ADHD or not, can benefit from psychotherapy. I have. I also believe that everyone who provides psychotherapy ought to experience it themselves and work out their own issues before working on other people’s issues. That said, what is holding you back?
For those of you with co-morbidities such as anxiety, depression, and so on, if those aren’t addressed, especially in the context of having ADHD on top of it, life can be so distressing. Untreated comorbidities can actually worsen with age. Those with untreated bipolar disease, for example, might see a worsening of their illness.
Substance abuse can destroy your physical and mental health. The list goes on.
Fixing your ADHD brain isn’t that simple, nor should it be a goal. I love what Sari Solden and Dr. Michele Frank say: “The only things that need to be fixed are dogs and furniture.”
We know that the best treatment consists of a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and ADHD coaching. I’d add to that, exercise and the obvious: good eating habits, sleep, and even meditation.
For those who can’t afford therapy, you can check out your local community mental health centers, faith-based agencies (they usually accept those from all religious backgrounds), or asking clinicians if offer a sliding scale.
Can’t find a therapist in your area? Many are now offering online therapy. You can check out online directories for ADHD specialists. In fact, I’ll be launching my own ADHD directory soon at www.GetADHDhelp.com.
For those who don’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger, know that this is a very common concern and therapists are equipped to help you through this. Within a short period of time, I can almost guarantee that you’ll begin to feel more comfortable. Be sure you tell your new therapist of your concerns.
Embarrassed that others may know you’re seeing a therapist? Guess what? Many people do. In 2019, it was estimated that over 40 million adults in the U.S. received psychotherapy at some time in the previous year.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of stigmas attached to psychotherapy and that is a real shame. Many think that we can control our anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc. if we only try harder. Well, that’s like saying you can treat insomnia by trying harder to fall asleep.
Lastly, if you’ve never been in psychotherapy, you probably have a lot of questions, concerns, and even fears: will your personality completely change? Will your therapist think badly of you?
The goal of psychotherapy, in terms of ADHD, can include many things. Perhaps you’re still feeling tremendous shame over your ADHD since childhood when you were made to feel inadequate for not being able to keep up in school. Or keep friends. Maybe, as an adult, you can’t keep up at work and drift from job to job. Perhaps you loathe yourself for your many (often perceived) failures. Going over your past history in the context of having an ADHD brain can help you put the pieces together.
Other forms of psychotherapy may be re-framing how you perceive certain situations. Let’s say you are afraid to have friends over because you just can’t keep up with your house and you’re terribly embarrassed by the clutter. You may work through some of this by understanding how ADHD affects your ability to manage your household. Instead of saying, “I’m just lazy”, you may learn to tell yourself,” I have an ADHD brain; that’s why this is so difficult for me.” And then you’d be encouraged to learn how to reach out for help, learn new strategies, or/and work with an ADHD coach.
Combining psychotherapy with ADHD medications, ADHD coaching, connecting with others who have ADHD, and learning more about how your brain works, can open the door to a life you’ve always wished for.
Are you ready to take that next step?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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The Sentimental Person’s Guide to Decluttering.
I’ve not read this but have heard it’s excellent. Any book with the word “declutter” in the title sure draws my attention!
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I am a 44 year old woman with ADD and I have struggled my whole life!!! I have co existing disorders and I’m ready to get help for it especially my ADD !!! Please HELP ME;!!! I have priority health Medicaid.
Can you check with Medicaid to see who is in your plan? Then you can call and see if they have experience treating ADHD. Hope this helps!
Thank you. Maybe this is the push i needed. I’ve tried to get help for 10+ years but hit every roadblock imaginable. Eventually i just gave up and decided that I would be “broken” forever. I’m going to give it one more shot. Fingers crossed!
I really do hope you’ll try again. You aren’t broken. 🙂
Try asking your primary care physician if he/she has a referral. There are also online directories at add.org and chadd.org and my own directory will be up and running soon at getADHDhelp.com .
This is my first time reading an addconsults.com post. I’m wondering if there is a forum somewhere, like the old chat rooms, where we can share what we’re going through. Just now, reading what the two women above wrote, made me feel less freakish. It is a very lonely feeling to think “I’m the only one who can’t get their life together.” I look around at my messes and unfinished projects and go into a doom spiral that is nearly impossible to climb out of. I think just hearing from others in similar circumstances would be immensely helpful. Is there such a (print) forum somewhere? I would find a live Zoom forum way too distracting, and besides, I wouldn’t be able to get my act together on time to make it to a meeting, and being forced to stay glued to a screen for a live video format would drive me absolutely insane.