Many adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) struggle with a similar set of issues — their forgetfulness, distractibility, restlessness, and impulsivity make it difficult to stay focused, get organized, manage priorities, work efficiently, and follow through.
It’s not surprising that ADHD can make you feel like you’re trapped in a never-ending cycle of procrastination, ineffectiveness, defeat, and disappointment. It’s also not surprising that ADHD often gives rise to co-occurring problems like low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression.
At EXIS Recovery in West Los Angeles, California, our ADHD experts take a multi-modal treatment approach that embraces evidence-based practices like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Let’s explore how this effective “here and now” therapy works, and how it can help you.
CBT is a short-term, structured form of form of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that focuses on exploring habitual thoughts and behaviors that take place in the here and now.
CBT works on the presumption that everyone experiences automatic, spontaneous thoughts in response to a task, situation, event, or interaction. Positive thoughts are more likely to give rise to constructive behaviors, healthy emotions, and effective coping.
Negative thoughts, on the other hand, are more likely to lead to counterproductive behaviors and adverse emotions. Persistent negative thoughts are typically a product of irrational beliefs or cognitive distortions, which is exactly what CBT can address.
Initially used as a treatment for depression, CBT has been expanded and tailored for the treatment of anxiety disorders (including phobias, PTSD, and OCD), substance abuse, eating disorders, sleep disorders, and most recently, adult ADHD.
By combining cognitive insight and behavioral changes into a single, goal-oriented treatment, CBT teaches you to recognize the dysfunctional thoughts that give rise to negative emotional patterns and behaviors. Then, it gives you the tools you need to take control of your narrative.
CBT aims to help adults with ADHD overcome difficulties in everyday executive functions and self-regulation. It often focuses on the cognitive distortions related to self-instruction, impulse control, and motivation — the negative thought patterns that prevent you from managing your priorities, finishing projects on time, and scheduling your day productively.
For example, if poor time management is an area of focus for you, CBT can help you “reverse engineer” the various component parts of your problem to help you gain an understanding of how your ADHD contributes to the issue or makes it worse.
By talking through the persistent thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make lateness an ongoing problem for you, you may learn that several underlying factors that play a role, such as:
Each identified component of your “poor time management” problem presents an opportunity for change — an opportunity to develop effective coping skills, positive thought patterns, and healthier behaviors.
CBT offers you a template for making sense of what had previously been experienced as factors beyond your control — your ADHD symptoms — and uses straightforward methods and clearly stated goals to help you achieve measurable results.
Medication and CBT both have an important role to play in ADHD treatment, largely because they each address a different set of needs. Medication treats core symptoms of inattention, distractibility, and impulsivity, while CBT intervenes to improve self-regulation and help lessen life impairments.
To put it another way, medication helps you focus, and CBT teaches you what to focus on. As the saying goes: “Pills don’t teach skills.”
CBT is arguably more powerful than medication from the standpoint that it helps you cultivate positive thoughts and behaviors that serve to strengthen and reinforce your efforts with each success. Simply put, positivity breeds more positivity, and success keeps you motivated.
Remember, CBT doesn’t change how ADHD affects your brain. Instead, it shows you how to gain the upper hand over your symptom-driven problems so you’re more likely to succeed at school, at home, at work, and within your relationships. Consider it brain training for adults with ADHD.
Call 424-244-3513 to reach our West Los Angeles office today, or use the easy online booking tool to schedule an appointment with one of our trusted ADHD experts any time.