Getting help for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Getting help for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Getting help for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 1200 943 Team Mindsum
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Last updated: 13 January 2021

This article covers:

– What types of therapies are involved?

– What types of professionals are involved?

– The journey of recovery from ADHD

What types of therapies are involved?

When treating ADHD, there are psychosocial types of therapy that are involved. This means that the therapy aims to focus on the child or young person and the influence of others around them. This can involve parent/guardian training programmes and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Parent/guardian training programmes
This a specialized programme that helps parents to improve on their parenting skills, as a way to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. There is a lot of research that supports parent training as an effective treatment for ADHD.  

The idea behind it is that parents hold the key to stop certain symptoms from continuing. This is because parents are the ones responsible for setting boundaries, ensuring discipline and giving appropriate love and affection.


The parents/guardians will learn more about ADHD and develop good strategies to help their child with ADHD. For example, they might be encouraged to make changes to their communication, the way they interact with their child and the home environment.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
This is a type of talk therapy that focuses on the link between thoughts, feelings and behaviours. With CBT, children and young people learn the skills to reduce symptoms of ADHD and manage mental health problems. According to research, CBT can be helpful in reducing behavioural problems linked with ADHD.


The idea behind this is that some of the symptoms of ADHD can cause problems in the child or young person’s life such as poor social skills, concentration and self-control. Therefore, by learning the skills that will improve these areas, the symptoms of ADHD will be reduced.


The therapist will help the child or young person to talk about difficult feelings, as they also learn skills such as social skills, problem-solving and listening skills. This will help the child to develop helpful strategies to cope with ADHD and mental health problems.

What types of professionals are involved?

There are different professionals that may or may not be involved throughout the treatment process of ADHD. These might include counsellors, psychotherapists, educational psychologist, doctors/psychiatrist and social workers. These terms might be confusing, but the main difference is in the training that each of these professionals have received. 

In the UK, there is not much of a distinction made between counsellor or psychotherapist. Both of these professionals provide therapy. However, there are some slight differences between these two professional terms. These are outlined below.

Counsellors: Counselling is focused on helping people with what they need right now. Compared to psychotherapists, counsellors tend to have had a shorter training. There may be school-based counsellors available that children and young people can approach at their own school. Here at Mindsum, we have counsellors that are available to provide support.

Psychotherapists: Psychotherapy training tends to be longer. Psychotherapists can also give counselling but their approach to talk-therapy is more in-depth, exploring the history and causes of certain behaviours and emotional issues. The psychotherapist will help the child in this specialized way. Here at Mindsum, we have psychotherapists that are available to provide support.

Educational psychologist: Psychologists trained in the area of child development and learning might be involved in the treatment process of ADHD. They will help to support and improve the child’s learning experience, so that they can be successful at school.

Doctors: These are professionals that are trained in medicine. This will likely be the family GP, who might find it necessary to prescribe certain medications that might help the child or young person to cope better with ADHD.   

Psychiatrist: These are professionals that are also trained in medicine. However, they specialized in the field of psychiatry. They are able to provide consultation and medication for a wide range of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar affective disorder and so on.

Social workers: Workers trained in working with vulnerable individuals and the community might also be involved with the child or young person. They can provide or make arrangements for support. They may also work with law enforcement and other sectors to ensure that the child is safe from harm.

The journey of recovery from ADHD

The journey of recovery from ADHD can look different for each child or young person. Depending on the child’s age and severity of symptoms, the treatment might include therapy and/or parent training programmes. An example journey through cognitive behavioural therapy is discussed below.

This is an important phase, where the counsellor or psychotherapist will get a feel of what is going on with the child or young person. The therapist will also identify important background information. They will ask some questions, which will help to know what type of treatment will be most helpful. 

Therapy sessions
These sessions will take place with a time and regularity that suits the child or young person and their parents. An important aspect of the session is the relationship that the counsellor or psychotherapist will build with the child or young person. This will create a safe space that will encourage them to talk and be open with the therapist. Sessions might include different activities such as discussing, role-playing, games, and feedback. 

This can be an important part of treatment, especially when having CBT. This is because ADHD affects everyday situations in the child or young person’s life. So, homework tasks will really help the child or young person to develop a sense of achievement and mastery over their difficulties.

Progress and setbacks
When having treatment for ADHD, there will be progress and setbacks. Learning to improve self-control, behaviours and concentration can take a long time to change, so it is not realistic to expect progress without any setbacks. It is important to not get discouraged when setbacks happen. It is an opportunity for the child or young person, parents and the therapist to think about new ways to move forward.

Ending therapy
The counsellor or psychotherapist will eventually prepare the child, young person and parents for the end of therapy. This is a very important phase, because it is vital for the child or young person to become confident without relying too much on the professional. The end of therapy will take place once the child or young person has made a lot of progress. The child or young person will leave therapy with many skills that they can use without the help of the therapist.

Follow up
There might be an agreement with the counsellor or psychotherapist to have a follow-up meeting. This is to check how the child or young person is coping. If they are doing well, there will be no need for more support. But if they continue to have difficulties or any other issues, this will be an opportunity to have extra support.

List of useful resources 

To read our information on ADHD, you can click here to access the link

ADDIS information on ADHD
To read more information on ADHD and treatments involved, you can go to the ADDIS information services website. Click here to access the link.

Introduction to counselling and psychotherapy
The British Association for the Counselling Professions (BACP) have a useful document on different aspects of therapy. To read more, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

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