Some Thoughts on Counseling Goals for ADHD

What should the goals for counseling be when the patient has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Every therapist will have their own opinions, but I'll give you some of my thoughts.

First, it is important to teach the child or teen with ADHD how to recognize problems and how to solve problems. There are many good problem solving techniques that young people can quickly learn, and these are great tools to teach them.

Second, it is important to teach the child or teen how to think before they act, how to be less impulsive, how to have greater self-control. Without good internal controls the natural tendency toward impulsive behaviors will cause the ADHD person many heart aches.

Third, it is important to teach the child or teen with ADHD to respect others, and other's property, as well as to respect himself and his property.

Fourth, it is important to teach the child or teen to monitor his or her thoughts. It has been reported that the thoughts of ADHD kids are Off-Task at least 60% of the time compared to non-ADDers at only 20% of the time. ADHD kids also tend to have more negative thoughts. Teach the child to be aware of his or her own thoughts, and to control them to be on-task more and to be more positive.

Fifth, teach the child social skills as needed. Some kids have great social skills, some do not. Moral reasoning often needs to fit into here as well. It is odd to say, but there are some kids that I see who seem as if they have no conscience whatsoever. Moral reasoning is often more important than just the social skills training. Many sociopaths have great interpersonal skills, but without the morals or values to guide them.

Finally, anger management training and relaxation training as needed. I'm sure there are many other goals which are equally noble, and which ought to be mentioned. But this was my list of thoughts, and I think each goal listed above is important to deal with and achieve in counseling/therapy. If I could accomplish the above list with a client, then I would consider the therapy to have been a success.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of Incorporated.

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