Fieldwork Counselling

All About Adult ADHD

What is Adult ADHD?

Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (adult ADHD) can have a significant impact on an individual’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that can manifest in various areas of life. While ADHD is commonly associated with children and adolescents, it can persist into adulthood, affecting around 4-5% of adults worldwide. Understanding the challenges faced by individuals with adult ADHD is crucial, as it helps to identify the importance of seeking support from a counsellor or therapist who specializes in ADHD. This article aims to delve deeper into the world of adult ADHD and explore how counselling can play a vital role in managing and improving the quality of life for individuals with ADHD.

Types of Adult ADHD

ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity that significantly interferes with daily functioning. However, not all individuals with ADHD present with the same set of symptoms. In fact, there are three main subtypes of ADHD, each with its own unique characteristics. Let’s briefly look at the different types of ADHD and how they are characterized.

Impulsive/Hyperactive Type ADHD

The impulsive/hyperactive type of ADHD is primarily characterized by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Individuals with this type of ADHD often experience an intense need for constant movement and have difficulty sitting still or engaging in quiet activities. They may exhibit repetitive fidgeting, excessive talking, and a constant “on the go” mentality. Impulsive behaviours such as blurting out answers, interrupting others, and acting without considering the consequences are also common in this presentation.

Inattentive and Distractible Type ADHD

Unlike the combined and impulsive/hyperactive types, this presentation of ADHD primarily involves difficulties with attention and focus. Individuals with inattentive and distractible type ADHD may struggle with staying focused on tasks, organizing their belongings, and following through on instructions. They may appear forgetful, easily distracted, and have trouble sustaining mental effort. This type of ADHD is more commonly seen in girls and is often overlooked or misdiagnosed due to the absence of traditional hyperactive and impulsive behaviours.

Combined Type ADHD

The combined type is the most common presentation of ADHD, affecting approximately 80% of individuals diagnosed with the disorder. As the name suggests, it is characterized by symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. People with combined type ADHD often struggle with maintaining attention, controlling impulses, and managing their activity levels. They may display restless behaviours, have difficulty waiting their turn, interrupt others, and exhibit impulsive decision-making.

It is important to note that within these three main types of ADHD, there are varying degrees of symptom severity and different combinations of symptoms. A comprehensive assessment and diagnosis by a qualified healthcare professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, is necessary to determine the specific type and presentation of ADHD. (Note that counsellors can screen for ADHD, whereas psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, nurse practitioners and clinical social workers can diagnose it.)

If you suspect that you may have ADHD, it is advisable to seek professional guidance and support. A qualified counsellor or therapist specializing in ADHD can play a vital role in addressing the challenges related to the disorder. They can provide guidance, support, and evidence-based strategies to manage symptoms, enhance daily functioning, and improve overall quality of life.

Counselling for ADHD focuses on helping individuals develop coping mechanisms, improve self-awareness, and develop effective strategies to address the challenges associated with the disorder. Some common therapeutic approaches for ADHD may include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps individuals identify and modify negative or unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours; behavioural therapy, which focuses on specific skills training and behaviour modification techniques; and psychoeducation, which provides clients with a better understanding of ADHD and its impact on their lives.

In addition to therapy, medication may be recommended for individuals with ADHD. Medications such as stimulants and non-stimulants can be beneficial in reducing symptoms and improving attention and impulse control. A counsellor specializing in ADHD can work collaboratively with a client’s prescribing physician to ensure a comprehensive treatment approach.

Signs and symptoms of Adult ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of people, both children and adults. While ADHD is often associated with children, it can persist into adulthood and significantly impact daily functioning and overall quality of life. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of adult ADHD is crucial in seeking appropriate support and guidance from a qualified counsellor.

Common signs and symptoms of adult ADHD include difficulties with attention, organization, impulsivity, time management, and emotional regulation. It is important to remember that ADHD presents differently in each individual, and not all symptoms may be present. Seeking a counsellor trained in ADHD can provide individuals with a comprehensive evaluation and necessary strategies to manage and navigate the challenges associated with ADHD.

Let’s explore the signs of adult ADHD in more detail and how working with a counsellor can be vital in addressing and managing these challenges.


Inattentiveness is one of the hallmark symptoms of adult ADHD. Individuals exhibiting this symptom often struggle with maintaining focus and paying attention to detail. They may find it challenging to concentrate on tasks or conversations for an extended period and frequently become easily distracted by external stimuli. Inattentiveness can manifest in various ways, impacting an individual’s daily life and overall functioning.

One common sign of inattentiveness in individuals with ADHD is a short attention span. They may struggle to sustain attention on tasks or conversations, leading to frequent interruptions or difficulty completing projects. This short attention span can be particularly noticeable in work or academic settings, where individuals with ADHD may have difficulty staying focused on tasks and meeting deadlines.

Another behaviour associated with inattentiveness in ADHD is being easily distracted. Even in environments without obvious distractions, individuals with ADHD may find it challenging to filter out irrelevant stimuli. They may be easily drawn away from the task at hand by external noise, visual cues, or random thoughts. This can make it difficult for them to concentrate and stay on track with their goals or responsibilities.

Making careless mistakes is another common behaviour seen in individuals with inattentiveness. Due to their difficulty maintaining focus, individuals with ADHD may overlook important details or rush through tasks without giving them proper attention. This can lead to errors in work, school assignments, or even everyday activities. For example, they may forget important details in presentations, miss key information in conversations, or make frequent spelling or grammatical errors in their writing.

Struggling to focus on tasks is another challenge commonly associated with inattentiveness in ADHD. Individuals may find it challenging to sustain their attention on tasks that are not stimulating or engaging enough. They may experience a sense of restlessness or boredom and may frequently switch from one task to another, without completing any of them satisfactorily. This can impact their productivity and ability to complete projects or achieve their goals.

Overall, inattentiveness in adult ADHD can significantly impact an individual’s daily life and functioning. It can affect their performance at work or in academic settings, strain relationships, and make it difficult for them to meet their personal goals. However, with the help of a qualified counsellor, individuals with inattentive-type ADHD can develop strategies to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

Hyperactivity and impulsivity

Hyperactivity and impulsivity are two core symptoms of ADHD that can significantly impact an individual’s daily life and functioning. Understanding these characteristics is crucial in addressing ADHD and working towards finding effective strategies for managing symptoms.

One of the main challenges associated with hyperactivity in ADHD is difficulty in sitting still. Individuals with ADHD often have a constant need for physical movement and may struggle to stay seated for extended periods. They may frequently fidget, shift in their seats, or engage in repetitive movements such as tapping their fingers or bouncing their legs. This restlessness can be quite disruptive and make it challenging for individuals to focus on tasks or conversations.

In addition to difficulty sitting still, individuals with ADHD may also struggle with maintaining concentration on tasks. They may have a hard time staying engaged and focused for a prolonged period, especially when the task is not stimulating or fails to capture their interest. This can lead to challenges in completing assignments, meeting deadlines, and staying on track with their responsibilities. They may easily become bored or distracted, leading to unfinished projects or a constant switch between tasks.

Another characteristic of hyperactivity in ADHD is excessive talking. Individuals with ADHD may feel compelled to speak, often without attention to the social appropriateness or relevance of their words. This can be perceived as disruptive in some settings, such as classrooms or work environments, as it can distract others and hinder communication. It may also contribute to difficulties in listening and following conversations, as individuals with ADHD may struggle to maintain their attention on a speaker.

Impulsivity is another significant characteristic associated with ADHD. Individuals with ADHD often act on their impulses without considering the consequences or potential risks involved. They may struggle to think before they speak or act, leading to decisions or actions they come to regret. This impulsivity can manifest in various ways, such as interrupting others, blurting out inappropriate comments, or engaging in risky activities.

Individuals with ADHD may also have difficulty waiting their turn. They may become impatient in situations that require patience, such as waiting in line or taking turns in a conversation. This can lead to conflicts or strained relationships, as others may perceive their impatience as rude or inconsiderate. Impulsivity may also lead to addictive behaviours, such as substance misuse or excessive spending. Finally, it can also contribute to difficulties in managing emotions and regulating reactions, leading to conflicts or misunderstandings in social settings.

Following rules and regulations can also be challenging for individuals with ADHD. They may struggle to adhere to guidelines or instructions, often due to their difficulty in sustaining attention and impulsivity. This can create difficulties in academic or work settings, where adherence to rules and regulations is crucial for success.

Addressing hyperactivity and impulsiveness in individuals with ADHD requires a comprehensive approach that involves working with a qualified counsellor. A counsellor can provide support, guidance, and strategies to help individuals manage their symptoms effectively and improve their overall quality of life. Through counselling, individuals with ADHD can gain a better understanding of their challenges, develop coping mechanisms, and enhance their self-regulation skills.

Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD)

Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD) is a highly relevant and important topic to discuss when addressing adult ADHD. It refers to an extreme emotional reaction to the perception of rejection, criticism, or negative comments from others. While RSD is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it is often reported by individuals with ADHD and can significantly impact their daily lives.

Adults with ADHD who experience RSD may have persistent feelings of low self-esteem, even in the absence of actual rejection or criticism. They tend to be highly sensitive to any form of perceived negative feedback and may interpret neutral or even positive comments as personal attacks. This sensitivity can lead to intense emotional pain and distress, often triggered by situations that others may consider minor or insignificant.

The signs and symptoms of RSD can vary from person to person, but some common experiences include feelings of worthlessness, shame, and inadequacy. Individuals may become excessively preoccupied with their perceived flaws and shortcomings, leading to a negative self-image and self-doubt. The fear of rejection can be so overwhelming that it impacts their ability to engage in social interactions or seek out new opportunities.

The emotional pain associated with RSD can be so intense that individuals may consider self-harming thoughts or engage in self-sabotaging behaviours to cope with these feelings. The constant fear of rejection can become a significant barrier to forming and maintaining healthy relationships, both personally and professionally.

It is crucial to understand and address RSD when working with individuals with ADHD, as it can have a profound impact on their mental health and overall well-being. A qualified counsellor can play a vital role in providing support and strategies to help individuals manage and mitigate the effects of RSD.

Counselling sessions can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to explore and express their emotions surrounding RSD. Counsellors can also assist individuals in developing strategies and coping mechanisms to manage the emotional pain associated with RSD. These techniques may include mindfulness exercises, grounding techniques, and self-compassion practices. By incorporating these tools into their daily lives, individuals can learn to regulate their emotional responses and reduce the intensity of their reactions to perceived rejection.

Causes of Adult ADHD

While the exact causes of ADHD are not yet fully understood, research suggests that genetics, brain differences, and various environmental factors play a role in its development. Here we will explore what are believed to be the underlying causes of adult ADHD and how understanding these factors can help individuals seek appropriate help and support from a counsellor.

Genetic factors

One of the primary contributors to the development of ADHD is believed to be genetics. Research has consistently shown a strong genetic component in the manifestation of this disorder. Studies have indicated that ADHD tends to run in families, with individuals having a higher risk of developing ADHD if they have a family history of the disorder. However, it’s important to note that there is no single gene responsible for ADHD. Instead, multiple gene variations are believed to contribute to its development.

In recent years, several genes have been identified that are associated with ADHD. These genes play a role in regulating certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which are essential for attention, impulse control, and executive functioning. It is thought that variations in these genes may disrupt the normal functioning of these neurotransmitters, leading to the characteristic symptoms of ADHD.

Neurobiological differences

Related to genetics, neurobiological factors seem to play a role in the development of ADHD. Brain imaging studies have revealed structural and functional differences in the brains of individuals with ADHD compared to those without the disorder. These differences primarily involve areas of the brain responsible for attention, impulse control, and executive functioning.

One key area that is often implicated in ADHD is the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher-level cognitive functions (what are also called executive functions). Individuals with ADHD tend to have reduced volume and activity in this region, leading to difficulties with attention, organization, decision-making, and impulse control. Additionally, the brain’s reward system, which is governed by the neurotransmitter dopamine, is also believed to be dysregulated in individuals with ADHD, contributing to problems with motivation and reward processing.

Environmental factors

While genetics and neurobiological differences are significant contributors to ADHD, environmental factors can also influence its development. Factors such as premature birth, low birth weight, and exposure to toxins during pregnancy have been associated with an increased risk of ADHD. Additionally, brain injuries, such as those caused by accidents or illnesses, can also increase the likelihood of developing ADHD.

It is important to note that while these environmental factors may increase the risk of developing ADHD, they are not the sole cause of the disorder. ADHD is a complex condition that arises from a combination of genetic vulnerabilities and environmental influences.

Parenting and attachment

One of the foundational aspects of human psychological development is the relationship between a child and their primary caregivers, primarily understood through the lens of attachment theory. Secure attachment, formed through consistent and responsive caregiving, lays the groundwork for a child’s emotional regulation, self-esteem, and social competencies. Conversely, disrupted or insecure attachments can lead to a plethora of developmental challenges. Among these, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been a subject of particular interest, as the manifestation of this disorder can be influenced by early environmental factors, including the quality of parental care.

The physician and author Dr. Gabor Mate has extensively explored the connections between developmental disorders like ADHD and the early childhood environment. In his work, Mate posits that ADHD can be understood not merely as a genetic or neurobiological disorder but also as a potential adaptive response to stressful environments. Specifically, he suggests that when children face inconsistent, unpredictable, or unresponsive caregiving, they might develop hyperactive or inattentive behaviors as coping mechanisms. This perspective underscores the significance of nurturing environments and the profound impact of parenting styles on a child’s neurodevelopment and behavioral outcomes.

While genetic, neurobiological and broad environmental factors undeniably play a role in the development of ADHD, the importance of parenting and early attachment cannot be overlooked. Emphasizing the importance of secure attachments and consistent caregiving can provide a more holistic understanding of ADHD.

Getting an ADHD diagnosis as an adult

Getting an ADHD diagnosis is an important first step in addressing and managing the symptoms of adult ADHD. It involves a comprehensive evaluation process that typically starts with a consultation with a professional qualified to form a diagnosis. Let’s take a closer look at the process that may be involved in obtaining an ADHD diagnosis, keeping in mind that everyone’s journey will be different.

1. Initial consultation

The first step in seeking an ADHD diagnosis is to schedule an appointment with a professional who can actually form a diagnosis. In BC, this can include a nurse practitioner, physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, or neuropsychiatrist. Generally speaking, the more specialized a practitioner, the more comprehensive their assessment will be. Because many other diagnoses can masquerade as ADHD, it is a good idea to access the most specialized available.

During your initial consultation, the professional will conduct an assessment to gather information about the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and any potential underlying conditions that may contribute to the symptoms. The professional may also inquire about any family history of ADHD or other mental health disorders. It is important for individuals to be open and honest about their experiences and provide detailed information to facilitate an accurate diagnosis.

2. “Watchful Waiting”

In some cases, the professional may recommend a period of observation or “watchful waiting” before making a definitive diagnosis. This period allows them to monitor the individual’s symptoms over time and assess if they persist and significantly affect everyday life. Watchful waiting may be suggested if the symptoms are not severe or impacting functioning to a great extent, or if there is uncertainty about the diagnosis. During this time, individuals may be advised to track their symptoms, keep a journal, or complete ADHD-specific questionnaires to provide more information for the diagnostic process.

3. Referral to a specialist

If symptoms persist and significantly affect daily life during the watchful waiting period, or if the GP feels that a specialist evaluation is warranted, they may refer the individual to a specialist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, for further assessment. The specialist will have specialized training and expertise in diagnosing ADHD and will employ standardized assessment tools and criteria to determine if the individual meets the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis.

4. Assessment and diagnosis

To obtain an ADHD diagnosis, individuals must meet specific criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV or DSM-5), a widely recognized diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals. The DSM-5 identifies three subtypes of ADHD: predominantly inattentive presentation, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation, or combined presentation (inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive symptoms). For a diagnosis of ADHD, symptoms must be present in two or more settings (e.g., home, work, school) and interfere with daily activities and functioning for a minimum duration of six months.

In addition to meeting the criteria mentioned above, the specialist conducting the assessment will gather information from multiple sources, including self-reports, interviews, and reports from teachers, family members, or other individuals who have known the person for an extended period. The specialist will assess the severity and pervasiveness of symptoms, the impact on various domains of functioning (e.g., work, school, relationships), and rule out any other medical or psychiatric conditions that may account for the symptoms.

It is important to note that the ADHD diagnostic process is multidimensional, and an accurate diagnosis requires comprehensive evaluation by a qualified specialist. The diagnosis of ADHD is based on clinical judgment and should involve a collaborative discussion between the individual and the specialist.

Seeking an ADHD diagnosis is essential for individuals who suspect they may have ADHD and experience significant impairments in daily life due to ADHD symptoms. A formal diagnosis opens the door to appropriate treatment and support, which can significantly improve one’s quality of life. Once a diagnosis is obtained, individuals can work with a counsellor who specializes in ADHD to develop an individualized treatment plan and strategies to manage their symptoms effectively.

Medication for Adult ADHD

Of the various treatment options that exist for ADHD, medication can be a useful approach to managing symptoms. Stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate and amphetamine, are commonly prescribed to individuals with ADHD. These medications work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically dopamine and norepinephrine, which can help improve attention, focus, and impulse control.

Finding the right medication and dosage for ADHD can take time. It is essential to work closely with a healthcare provider, such as a psychiatrist or primary care prescriber, to determine the most appropriate treatment approach. The process may involve trying different medications, adjusting dosages, and monitoring for adverse effects. It is important to follow the prescribed regimen and regularly communicate with the healthcare prescriber to ensure the medication is effective and well-tolerated.

Counselling for Adult ADHD

It is important to note that medication alone may not address all the challenges associated with ADHD. It is therefore often recommended to combine medication with other therapeutic approaches, such as counselling, to provide a comprehensive and holistic treatment approach. Counselling can play a vital role in addressing the emotional, behavioural, and psychological aspects of ADHD, helping individuals develop strategies to cope with daily challenges and improve overall well-being.

Each person with ADHD is unique, and a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment is not effective. Counsellors collaborate with clients to create individualized treatment plans that address their specific needs, goals, and challenges. These plans may involve a combination of therapeutic techniques, including cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychoeducation, mindfulness practices, stress management, and skills training. A counsellor can also provide guidance on self-care strategies, lifestyle adjustments, and assist with developing personalized coping mechanisms to navigate everyday life successfully.

Counsellors can also help in a number of other ways, including:

Enhancing self-awareness and acceptance

Adults with ADHD often struggle with self-awareness and self-acceptance due to years of negative experiences, low self-esteem, and misunderstandings surrounding their symptoms. Counselling provides a safe space for individuals to explore their emotions, validate their experiences, and develop a healthier sense of self. Through therapeutic interventions, individuals can gain a better understanding of their strengths, challenges, and the impact of their ADHD on different aspects of their lives. By embracing self-awareness and developing self-compassion, individuals can overcome feelings of shame and develop a more positive and accepting outlook towards their ADHD.

Developing coping strategies and executive functioning skills

Counselling is instrumental in helping adults with ADHD develop effective coping strategies and improve their executive functioning skills. Executive functions involve cognitive processes such as attention control, working memory, problem-solving, decision-making, and impulse control. A counsellor can assist individuals in developing strategies to better manage their time, set achievable goals, organize tasks, enhance focus and attention, and regulate emotions. By working with a counsellor, individuals can learn practical techniques to overcome common challenges associated with ADHD and enhance their overall functioning and quality of life.

Addressing co-occurring mental health concerns

Adults with ADHD often experience co-occurring mental health concerns, such as anxiety, depression, substance misuse, or sleep disorders. Counsellors are trained to assess and address these additional challenges, which can significantly impact an individual’s well-being and ability to manage their ADHD symptoms. By understanding the interplay between ADHD and co-occurring mental health conditions, counsellors can provide appropriate interventions, such as integrated therapy approaches or referrals to specialists when necessary.

Improving relationships and communication skills

ADHD can strain personal relationships, leading to misunderstandings, communication difficulties, and conflict. Counselling provides an opportunity for individuals with ADHD to work on improving their interpersonal and communication skills. Counsellors can help individuals develop effective strategies for active listening, empathy, conflict resolution, and managing impulsivity. By enhancing communication skills and understanding the impact of ADHD on relationships, individuals can cultivate healthier and more fulfilling connections with others.

Fostering supportive family environments

In addition to individual counselling, therapists can play a crucial role in creating supportive environments for individuals with ADHD. This may involve working with parents, spouses, or partners to educate them about ADHD and its impact, providing guidance on how to best support their loved ones. Counsellors can also collaborate with employers, educators, or other professionals to create accommodations and strategies that enable individuals with ADHD to thrive in their work or academic settings. Building a strong support network can significantly contribute to an individual’s success in managing ADHD symptoms.

Counselling for adult ADHD is a valuable and vital resource that offers individuals support, guidance, and practical strategies to manage their symptoms, improve their overall well-being, and enhance their quality of life. By seeking counselling and working with a trained therapist, individuals with ADHD can develop a deeper understanding of their condition, cultivate self-awareness and self-acceptance, learn coping strategies, and enhance their executive functioning skills. With the right support and therapeutic interventions, individuals with ADHD can thrive and successfully navigate the challenges associated with adult ADHD.

What should I be looking for in a counsellor?

When seeking therapy for adult ADHD, finding the right therapist is crucial to the success of your treatment journey. Not all therapists are trained and experienced in working with ADHD, so it’s important to find a counsellor who understands the unique challenges and needs associated with the condition. In this section, we will discuss the qualities and credentials you should look for in a therapist when seeking counselling for adult ADHD. Whether you are newly diagnosed, struggling with managing your symptoms, or looking for additional support, a qualified therapist can provide the guidance, strategies, and support you need to navigate the challenges of living with adult ADHD.

What can an ADHD counsellor help with?

Living with ADHD can be challenging for both adults and children. The symptoms of ADHD, which include inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, can significantly impact various aspects of daily life. However, with the right support and assistance, individuals with ADHD can learn to manage their symptoms effectively and improve their overall quality of life.

So, what areas can an ADHD counselor assist with? Let’s explore some of the ways in which an ADHD counselor can help individuals manage their symptoms and develop essential skills.

Managing emotional dysregulation

Emotional regulation can be difficult for individuals with ADHD, leading to emotional outbursts and mood swings. An ADHD counsellor can teach coping strategies to manage and regulate emotions effectively. They can help individuals build emotional resilience and develop healthy outlets for expressing their feelings.

Improving focus and concentration

One of the primary symptoms of ADHD is difficulty sustaining focus and maintaining concentration. An ADHD counsellor can provide practical techniques to improve attention span and enhance concentration abilities. They may use cognitive-behavioural strategies, such as setting goals, maintaining structured routines, and implementing accountability systems, to help individuals stay focused and on task.

Enhancing relationships

Social interaction and communication can be challenging for individuals with ADHD. ADHD counsellors can teach social skills that are essential for building and maintaining healthy relationships. They can help individuals develop effective communication techniques, active listening skills, and appropriate social behaviour, thus enhancing their ability to navigate social situations successfully.

Developing memory skills

Individuals with ADHD often struggle with memory deficits, which can affect their academic, professional, and personal lives. An ADHD counsellor can assist in developing memory-enhancing techniques, such as visualization strategies, mnemonic devices, and organizational systems. Through these methods, individuals can improve their ability to recall and retain information effectively.

In addition to these specific areas, an ADHD counsellor can also help individuals address other challenges that arise from living with ADHD. They can provide guidance in developing and maintaining daily routines, managing impulsivity, and improving time management skills. ADHD counsellors may also work collaboratively with other professionals, such as psychiatrists, educators, and occupational therapists, to create a comprehensive treatment plan for their clients.

How does ADHD counselling work?

ADHD counsellors are trained professionals who specialize in working with clients with ADHD and provide personalized support tailored to their unique needs. Through various therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), ADHD counsellors help individuals identify and change thought patterns that affect their behavior.

One of the fundamental principles of ADHD counseling is the recognition that certain thought patterns can significantly impact an individual’s behavior. For instance, individuals with ADHD may struggle with negative self-talk, where they constantly criticize themselves for perceived failures or mistakes. This negative self-talk can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, and self-doubt.

ADHD counsellors work with their clients to identify and challenge these negative thought patterns. They help individuals become aware of their internal dialogue and develop strategies to reframe negative thoughts into more positive and constructive ones. This process is crucial in helping clients develop a healthier self-perception and increase their self-confidence.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach in ADHD counseling. CBT focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It aims to help individuals recognize and modify unhelpful thought patterns and adopt more adaptive behaviours. In the context of ADHD, CBT can be particularly effective in addressing cognitive distortions that are common among individuals with ADHD.

Cognitive distortions are biased or irrational thinking patterns that can lead to negative emotions and behaviours. Some common cognitive distortions in individuals with ADHD include “all-or-nothing” thinking, overgeneralization, and personalization. For example, an individual with ADHD might engage in all-or-nothing thinking, believing that they are either a complete success or a total failure, with no middle ground. This way of thinking can be detrimental to their self-esteem and motivation.

ADHD counsellors work with their clients to identify these cognitive distortions and rework them through various methods. They help individuals examine the evidence supporting these distortions and encourage the development of more balanced and realistic thoughts. By addressing cognitive distortions, individuals can gain a more accurate perception of themselves and their abilities, leading to improved self-esteem and more adaptive behaviours.

In addition to individual therapy, ADHD counselors can also provide valuable support in other areas of an individual’s life, such as the classroom. Many individuals with ADHD struggle with executive functioning skills, including organization, time management, and self-regulation. These difficulties can significantly impact academic performance and overall well-being.

ADHD counsellors collaborate with educators and school professionals to implement strategies and accommodations that support individuals with ADHD in the classroom. They may work with students to develop self-management systems, such as using visual schedules or checklists to enhance organization and task completion. Goal-setting is another essential aspect of ADHD counseling in the classroom, where counselors assist students in setting realistic and achievable academic goals and support them in monitoring and evaluating their progress.

Furthermore, ADHD counsellors can provide guidance and support to educators in implementing classroom strategies that address the specific needs of students with ADHD. By helping educators gain a better understanding of ADHD and its impact on learning, counselors enable them to create an inclusive and supportive environment that maximizes students’ potential.

What to consider in choosing an ADHD counselor

When it comes to finding an ADHD counsellor, there are several considerations to keep in mind to ensure that you find the right therapist who can effectively address your needs. The therapist-client relationship is crucial in therapy, and when working with ADHD, it becomes even more significant.

First and foremost, it is important to look for a counsellor with expertise in ADHD. ADHD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that requires a thorough understanding of its symptoms, challenges, and effective treatment approaches. A counsellor who specializes in ADHD will have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide targeted interventions and support.

Furthermore, finding a therapist with whom you feel a strong connection and comfort is essential. The therapy process can be deeply personal and vulnerable, and it is important to feel safe and supported in sharing your experiences and emotions. A trusted and empathetic counselor can create a space where individuals feel understood and validated, which is crucial for effective therapy.

Another consideration when finding an ADHD counsellor is their familiarity with specific techniques and modalities that have shown efficacy in addressing ADHD symptoms. For example, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has been found to be highly effective in helping individuals with ADHD manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Other techniques such as mindfulness-based interventions and executive functioning training may also be beneficial.

Remember, finding the right ADHD counselor is a process that requires careful consideration and trust in your instincts. By prioritizing expertise in ADHD, connection and comfort, and being aware of potential red flags, you can increase the likelihood of finding a therapist who can provide the support and guidance you need to effectively address your ADHD symptoms and improve your overall well-being.


In conclusion, seeking professional help through counseling is paramount for individuals with adult ADHD. It provides a supportive and personalized approach to addressing the challenges and symptoms associated with ADHD. From developing effective coping strategies to improving emotional well-being, counselling plays a vital role in helping individuals navigate the complexities of living with ADHD. By working with a knowledgeable and empathetic ADHD counsellor, individuals can gain valuable insights, acquire practical skills, and ultimately improve their quality of life. If you or someone you know is struggling with adult ADHD, don’t hesitate to seek support from a professional counsellor who specializes in ADHD. Remember, you don’t have to navigate this journey alone.