Sumit, a six year old boy (name and age changed) was referred to clinic because of over-active, inattentive, and disruptive behaviour. His hyperactivity and uninhibited behaviour caused problems in school. He would impulsively hit other children, knock things off his desks, and erase material on the blackboard, and damage books and other school property. He seemed to be in perpetual motion, talking, moving about, and darting from one area of the classroom to another. He demanded an inordinate amount of attention from his parents and his teachers, as he was intensely jealous of other children, including his own brother. He felt stupid and had a seriously devaluated self-image. Neurological tests revealed that there was no significant organic brain disorder.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD), often referred to as “hyperactivity” is characterized by difficulties that interfere with effective task oriented behaviour—particularly impulsivity, excessive or exaggerated motor activity such as aimlessness or haphazard running or fidgeting, and difficulties in sustaining attention (Brodeur & Pond, 2001). Hyperactive people tend to talk incessantly and to be socially intrusive and immature. They have difficulty in getting along with their parents because they do not obey rules. Their behaviour problems are also viewed negatively by their peers. “I think for many adults with ADHD, therapy is essential,” says David W. Goodman, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University, school of medicine. While ADHD medicines are effective, they may not be enough, the person struggles with the disorganized habits, low self-esteem etc.

The answer to these problems is therapy. Therapy with ADHD is not always a conservative traditional one; open ended talks don’t always work. Adults with ADHD often need practical concrete help; it’s the symptoms like disorganization, forgetfulness that are really interfering with their lives. People with ADHD need to focus on “functioning” to improve their lives. J. Russel Ramsay, PhD says that a person with ADHD knows his problems; what he lacks is the set of skills that will help him get organized. ADHD therapy is precisely about learning to overcome these problems and learning to get organized in daily routine. Following are the basic psychosocial remedies that could help:

  • Understand your condition: A therapist can help you understand how ADHD has affected your life. The therapist would make you realize that the problems are due to a medical condition and not due to any other personal failure.

  • Improve social skills: The therapist will help you improve social skills that have been lacking due to ADHD. Skills like communicating, reading social cues, knowing how to behave in different situations, are improved.

  • Get organized: The therapist might give very specific recommendations to reduce the chaos in the life of an individual with ADHD. He may give visual or auditory cues to remember things. The level of specificity may help ADHD patients a lot.

  • Challenge negative beliefs: People with ADHD can grow up to be individuals with low self-confidence, low self-worth and with a lot of self-doubt. They come to think that certain tasks are beyond their capacities. Therapists can help people question their own self-limiting beliefs and later overcome them.

  • Change your habit: Psychosocial treatments may help people in identifying the wrong habits and problem behaviours and would help them to change it. It teaches the individual to manage his own problems by using rewards and punishments.

Now, therapists might use a number of approaches in treating ADHD. While ADHD therapy can work well with children, it is often less successful with adults and needs to be combined with medication.

Certain adults with mild symptoms, who are functioning well, may be benefited with therapy alone; but in severe cases therapy would work best as a compliment to medication.