"Helping you to help your ADD ADHD child"by Anthony Kane, MD
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Goals of PsychotherapyPsychotherapy addresses six basic problems encountered by ADHD children and their families.
However, the appropriate therapy can help a child develop organizational skills, time management skills, and communication skills, which become essential to master as the child matures.
Again, as I point out in How to Help the Child You Love, there are many different therapeutic approaches, but not all enjoy the same success. You really have to know what you are doing before you commit your child to therapy.
I am going to discuss briefly a few of the current therapy approaches so that you know what they are.
Behavioral TherapyThe goal of behavioral therapy is to change your child's behavior. This is accomplished by making certain modifications in your child's environment in order to encourage desirable behavior and to discourage undesirable behavior.
Your child is given a set of goals. He is rewarded positively for executing the desired behaviors and given consequences for failing to perform the desired behaviors. This is often done in both the home and the school, and requires more structure, closer attention, and limitations of distractions. The result is that the behavioral therapy shapes the child's behavior over time.
Behavioral therapy is one of the most common forms of therapy used with ADHD children. Like other therapies, it is expensive, but if it is well targeted, behavioral therapy can be quite effective.
A good example of a targeted behavioral therapy program is the online course, How to Improve Your Child's Behavior. I designed this course to help parents more constructively discipline their children and foster a better, more loving relationship. If discipline is an issue for you, this is a very effective and cheap option. The entire 20-week program, along with complete online support costs less than one behavioral therapy session. To find out more about this option, go to http://addadhdadvances.com/betterbehavior.html.
Social Skills TrainingADHD is best known as a condition that seriously interferes with the child's ability to be successful in the school setting. That is because this is where the problems are first noticed and their behavior causes the most problems.
However, a more significant problem is that these children do not develop normal social interaction skills. As a result, they do not develop normal peer relationships. This aspect of ADHD will cripple the child decades after he has left school and will set him up for life-long difficulties and unhappiness.
Social skills training programs are designed to help your child deal with this problem. How effective are these programs? This depends on a number of factors. Again, you have to know what you are doing in order to choose wisely.
Parent Counseling and Parent TrainingParent counseling and parent training are two of the most commonly recommended psychological interventions offered to the parents of ADHD children. These are usually offered in the form of cognitive-behavioral training, either in an individual, family, or group family setting.
The idea is that most of the child's life is spent not under the influence of medication. In addition, medicating the child does nothing to improve the parents' parenting skills. Therefore, parent counseling and parent training are employed to better empower the parents to deal with the periods when the child and his ADHD behavior are in full bloom.
ConclusionThe conservative traditional approach to treating ADHD usually includes medication with some form of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy may be helpful in treating some of the psychological problems that accompany ADHD. As your child gets older, these problems could be more significant than the actual core ADHD symptoms. However, psychotherapy does not make your child more attentive or less impulsive.
Psychotherapy is very tricky. There are many different forms of psychotherapy being used today. Some work, some do not. All these techniques are expensive.
Psychotherapy can be a monetary sinkhole. If you choose a modality that does not work well, you could be in for years of expensive, only moderately effective treatment. On the other hand, if you choose correctly, you might see significant improvement in your child in a relatively short period of time. You might be able to reduce or eliminate the amount of medication your child takes.
I feel the need to repeat one word of caution. We generally think of medicines as being dangerous because they have side effects or toxic properties that can harm you if they are not used correctly. We are not used to thinking about psychological counseling the same way. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When therapy is done properly it can change your child's life. In conjunction with medication it can be a very powerful and effective combination. But if you choose the wrong therapy or the wrong therapist the consequences can be very severe. It may not be just a question of wasting your money. The wrong therapist can inflict serious harm to your child. I have seen this happen to others. You must make sure it does not happen to you. I deal with this danger much more thoroughly in How to Help the Child You Love as well as how you can avoid it.
Appropriately psychotherapy is definitely a part of treating ADHD. You should make it part of your child's treatment plan. Just be careful when you choose your program. As helpful as therapy can be, it can be that destructive.
Anthony Kane, MD
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