Father and Son

Harmonizing and celebrating our inner and outer worlds

 

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

 

ADHD consists of a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. There are three main “presentations” of ADHD. These are:

 

 

1. Combined ADHD, which demonstrates features of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

 

2. Predominantly inattentive ADHD, which demonstrates more features of inattention than hyperactivity-impulsivity.

 

3. Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD: demonstrates more features of hyperactivity-impulsivity than inattention. 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), symptoms of inattention in adults and/or children can include difficulties with: 

 

  • Close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.

  • Holding attention on tasks or play activities.

  • Distraction when spoken to directly.

  • Follow-through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).

  • Organizing tasks and activities.

  • Tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).

  • Losing things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).

  • Distraction

  • Forgetfulness in daily activities.

 

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity:

 

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.

  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).

  • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.

  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).

  • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.

  • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.

  • Often talks excessively.

  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.

  • Often has trouble waiting their turn.

  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

 

How do I work with ADHD? 

 

As with everything else, I work with ADHD from an integrative lens, but I generally have a bias towards healing ADHD at its roots, or healing the causes of ADHD, rather than purely focusing on the short or long-term management of ADHD symptoms. Both approaches are needed for a complete approach, but it seems to be the case that management of ADHD symptoms, rather than healing the underlying factors leading to ADHD, is the most available form of therapeutic treatment. 

 

While it is known that medication can be very helpful for many with ADHD, such important decisions require time and attention to each client’s unique needs. Some individuals do well with a combination of medication and psychotherapy, and at other times, psychotherapy alone can be the primary means of working with ADHD. Regardless, working via the psychotherapy route will always bring immense benefit.

 

Especially as of late in the field of psychology, there is a much deeper understanding of the relationship between ADHD and unresolved developmental trauma. In this case, ADHD is not the primary condition but results as one of the symptoms of a dysregulated nervous system, which is the hallmark of trauma. In these cases, doing work on developmental trauma will greatly improve ADHD symptoms. 

 

Of the modalities that I incorporate in my practice, Internal Family Systems Therapy, Somatic Experiencing®, and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, are all excellent therapies that address the treatment of ADHD from an integrative view, including the possible links of ADHD with underlying trauma.