ADHD Services at D’Arienzo Psychological Group
Our two clinical psychologists provide ADHD testing for individuals who are self-referred and are concerned about having this condition. Also, individuals are referred by their psychiatrist, pediatrician, or family practice physician to ensure that the individual has ADHD prior to medicating them. Our psychologists typically perform a psychological examination and administer a Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) and provide more thorough testing if warranted as well. In addition to our two psychologists, our Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and three Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) also provide therapy or ADHD coaching for those with ADHD needing skills training. We test and treat both children and adults for and with ADHD.
What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit/ Hyperactive Disorder and refers to the inattentive type, the hyperactive and impulsive type, and/or the combined type. Most still incorrectly refer to the inattentive type as ADD. ADHD is often a chronic neurological condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity. ADHD begins in childhood and often lasts into adulthood” (WebMD). Individuals with ADHD have difficulty focusing and tend to be forgetful. They can also become anxious and easily bored. ADHD also causes individuals to have reduced executive functioning.
ADHD and Executive Functions
Executive functions “are a set of processes involving mental control and self-regulation” (Idonline.org). There are four executive functions.
- Response Inhibition – This involves the delaying of impulsivity and instant gratification. Having specified waiting periods and ways to earn rewards helps to reduce this issue.
- Emotional Control – Constant discussion-based communication and scheduled events with advance notice are key in avoiding any emotional outbursts.
- Flexibility – Individuals with ADHD have trouble adapting to unexpected changes in their routine. Therefore, detailed schedules and warnings in advance of possible variations are of great importance. Developing scripts for possible anxiety-producing circumstances, as wells as, walking them through unforeseen situations will help to reduce anxiety and increases their personal flexibility.
- Metacognition – This refers to “higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning” (Dictionary.com). Encouraging the individual to evaluate their performance based upon the strategies they used to complete a task is one way to aid in the development of this skill. Praise for completing tasks and the avoidance of conflict are very significant in this process.
Communications Skills for Parents and Partners of those with ADHD
There are specific ways for parents with children diagnosed with ADHD to communicate that will help them improve significantly in their executive functioning. Instead of using insults, state the issue and be open to the conversation. Try not to interrupt. Note the good and the bad things instead if criticizing them. When one feels the need to get defensive, calmly disagree and explain why. Give short and concise sentences without lecturing. Pay attention and speak in neutral tones when saying exactly what one feels. Instead of yelling, accept any responsibility possible and use respectful and emphatic language.
Both psychotherapeutic and medication treatments for patients with ADHD are available. Cognitive-behavioral includes talk therapy, problem solving, and actual practice in enhancing executive functioning skills. This therapy also focuses on mitigating negative thoughts and behaviors connected to psychological distress. Also, Family Therapy aids in resolving conflict and increasing communication skills between family members. Anger Management Therapy may also be necessary. This type of therapy combines cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness training. Mindfulness training assists the person in developing coping strategies and the avoidance of triggers to minimize any emotional outbursts (MayoClinic.com). Stimulants are also commonly prescribed to those with ADHD and should be utilized if cognitive and behavioral training do not improve the condition. These drugs increase neurotransmitter levels, as well as heart rate and blood pressure and improve focus. For some, cognitive-enhancing medications help to improve mental function, lower blood pressure and balance mood. The combination of psychotherapy and medication work best for individuals with severe ADHD.
ADHD Evaluations are best conducted by a licensed psychologist who will conduct a psychological evaluation to include a review of one’s health history, and current and past psychological functioning, and will also administer psychological testing. ADHD testing is often done in concert with academic testing, but this is not always the case. If ADHD is found and medication is warranted, the psychologist will then make a referral to the pediatrician, psychiatrist, or family physician. The psychologist will also make an appropriate referral for psychotherapeutic interventions.
ADHD Specialists at D’Arienzo Psychological Group
Child Psychological Interventions Include: Talk therapy, psychotherapy, counseling, reunification therapy, play therapy, parenting coordination, parent coaching, life coaching, life skills training, anger management, study skills training, and ADHD management. Home based interventions are also available upon request
About the Author: The contents of this article were written for D’Arienzo Psychological Group by our psychology intern and University of North Florida graduate, Kaela Robertson, BA.