ADHD Treatment

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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ADHD can be treated using an array of different forms of treatment options, although it is important to note that a client who suffers from ADHD may not respond to the same treatment as someone else. According to the Center for Disease Control treatments for ADHD range from behavior therapy, medications, school accommodations, training for parents, and interventions. Though these are ways ADHD can be treated, the types of treatment that will be discussed in this section will be Psychotherapy, Social Skills Training, Hypnosis, and Pharmaceutical Interventions.

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Psychotherapy, otherwise known as “talk therapy” helps people, otherwise known as “clients” with various mental illnesses/impairments and emotional stressors/hardships according to American Psychiatric Association (APA). Psychotherapy is conducted under the care of mental health professional. A type of Psychotherapy that has been proven to aid those with ADHD is Behavioral Therapy, (APA).

The focus of Behavioral Therapy in treating ADHD is to control the symptoms. For children, Behavioral Therapy helps children learn how to control their behavior and make wise decisions whereas, for adults, it aids them in being more structured and organized, (APA). Behavioral therapy is an umbrella term as there are several types of behavioral therapy interventions, (APA). The most common form of behavior therapy that has proven successful in reducing the symptoms of ADHD among adults is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy uses an array of therapeutic interventions to aid children and adults with ADHD. In regards to working with children with ADHD, A US News article states that CBT works by helping children learn skills that will positively change their behavior. In addition to this, the article states that CBT uses positive rewards and praise to help a child with ADHD. This positive reward and praise is usually received by the parent or teacher of the child once they are trained on how to give these positive reinforcements (US News).

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that behavior therapy be tried as the first attempt of treatment for children under six years old who have ADHD. Whereas children who are six years old, or older, who have ADHD, AAP recommends using therapy alongside medications. It is important to note that a child with ADHD cannot eradicate the core symptoms of ADHD, but CBT teaches children ways of controlling their symptoms, according to Child Mind Institute, a national mental health non-profit. For adults, CBT is different in the way it is used to be treat adults with ADHD as it helps with learning new skills that will help them learn to be organized, prompt, self manage, and concentrate better, (US News). For adults with have ADHD, CBT also aids them in a different area of communication. CBT helps adults with ADHD because there is more discussion and verbal resolution about the client’s symptoms, stressors, problems, and struggles. This is mainly due to the fact that children with ADHD can have temper tantrums and that would lead to ineffective communication. Though CBT is one way to aid someone struggling with ADHD, another treatment that has been proven to help those struggling, specifically children with ADHD is Social Skills Training.

Social Skills Training involves children with ADHD working and playing with their peers, parents, and teachers and through this process, it is likely that they will have better control over their symptoms. The Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (SCCAP) states that using behavioral treatments promotes wanted behaviors and diminished unwanted behaviors. Though there are different forms of social skills training, SSCAP labels this type of training as “Behavioral Therapies” but for the sake of conciseness, for this paper, it will be labeled as “Social Skill Training as these types of behavioral therapies involve social settings. SSCAP lists four different types of social skills training techniques to aid those with ADHD. They are Behavioral Classroom Management, Behavioral Peer Interventions, Behavioral Parent Training, and Modeling (SSCAP).

  • Behavioral Classroom Management is a type of evidence-based therapy that supports a students’ positive behaviors within the classroom meanwhile preventing negative behaviors. This in turn increases the child’s academic performance/engagement, (SSCAP). The way this therapy is delivered is by the child’s teacher delivering the treatment by participating in these positive reinforcement interactions. BCM has received unprecedented amounts of empirical support as an effective therapy in treating ADHD, (SSCAP). (Find a study) Behavioral Peer Interventions involve one or more students’ peers providing assistance to their classmate who has ADHD, (SSCAP). The teacher trains the child’s peers to positively reinforce good behaviors and academic performance with various strategies, which include social and academic support strategies. This form of therapy is mostly used in school settings and has shown an immense amount of benefits in academic, social, and interpersonal development, (SSCAP). Following these strategies, participation in itself has proven effective according to SSCAP. Participation has been shown to create a positive influence in regards to peer assisting as it reinforces one’s sense of responsibility and behavioral changes that have become constructive, (SSCAP).
  • Under the umbrella of Peer-Based Therapy, there are peer-based interventions which include Peer Modeling, Peer initiation training, and classroom-wide tutoring, (SSCAP). These interventions aid social skills training in that it allows the child suffering from ADHD to get the social interaction they require without negative drawbacks.
  • Thirdly, another form of social skills training in Behavioral Parent Training which was developed to teach parents how to reinforce desired positive behavior in their children, reduce unwanted bad behaviors, and lastly, improve parent-child interactions, (SSCAP). During this form of therapy, the parent “plays a significant role in the treatment of their child’s behavioral problems/difficulties, (SSCAP). During these therapy sessions, parents learn how to carefully observe their child’s behaviors at their home and they are also taught skills that reward their child’s positive behaviors by using the aforementioned praise, rewards, and positive attention. Parents are also taught methods such as “rule-setting, time-out, and how to ignore an unwanted behavior, (SSCAP). This type of social skills training has been empirically validated and supported to be effective in reducing behavior problems, especially in children with ADHD.
  • Lastly, modeling is a form of therapy where a therapist uses a non-fearful response to a negative situation/circumstance to promote “imitation in the child or teen, (SSCAP). A study conducted by Jiijina and Sinha researched the short-term effects of a time-bound, structured, parent-assisted social skills training program where the children with ADHD had an age range of 8-12 years old.

The study was conducted during the course of eight sessions and was based on Spence’s Social Skill Training method along with multimedia tools. Parents participated in generalization training which was designed to support their children’s transfer of skills. Pre and post-training assessments were performed and it was concluded that results showed that the post training scores were significantly higher. This result suggested that there was a positive short-term effect on the social skills training, (Jijina and Slnha, 2016).

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ADHD treatment. (2019, Dec 10). Retrieved from