Has your child or teen recently been diagnosed with ADHD? Are you exasperated and unsure how to support him or her? Navigating the next steps after your child or teen has been diagnosed with ADHD can be overwhelming. I want to highlight some practical ways counseling can be a great asset for individuals struggling with ADHD, as well as offer advice to family members seeking to support a child or teen with ADHD.
Self-Exploration and Skill BuildingIn conjunction with medication your child or teen may be taking, the counseling room is a great resource for a child or teen to explore their struggles—a safe place where they can learn new coping skills and explore who they are and who want to be. The client becomes an active participant as he or she collaborates with a counselor to foster improved self-confidence and self-esteem. Individuals struggling with ADHD may feel a wide range of emotions and have difficulty regulating those emotions. Some of these difficult emotions may include shame, anger, frustration, and/or a lack of self-esteem. Working together with a counselor can help alleviate some of those built-up emotions that fuel the frustration the individual with ADHD already feels on a regular basis. A counselor can also hold the ADHD child or teen and the family accountable for the goals they set together in the counseling room.
Reinforcing Healthy Activities
Exercise, nutrition, and adequate sleep are all important parts of any person’s overall health, but these are all especially crucial and beneficial for individuals with ADHD. When we exercise, we release dopamine and norepinephrine, which can help an individual with ADHD stay alert and make clearer decisions. Exercise also improves our mood and ability to focus, which may be a large part of the struggle for someone with ADHD. Our bodies, and specifically our brains, need fuel in order to focus and function properly. Eating healthy foods and getting a good night’s rest contribute significantly to one’s ability to do these things. Stability and routine are very important pieces when working with ADHD individuals, so extra reinforcement can be a great resource. A counselor can work with the individual and his or her family to reinforce these behaviors, as well as help to explore areas where healthy habits may be a struggle.
Counseling Support for Parents with ADHD Children or Teens
Raising a child or teenager struggling with ADHD can be very difficult not only for the individual but also for the parents and family members involved. As a counselor , I have the privilege of working together with parents and families to help support their child or teen in goals we set together to help that individual toward success. Counseling is a great resource and avenue for parents to discuss struggles, celebrates successes, and build better communication skills and relationships with their child or teen. It has been my experience that parents need just as much support as their child or teen, even if it is just to ensure that they are not alone in their mission to see their child succeed. A counselor can facilitate a conversation where there can be new growth and understanding in the parent/child relationship so that all family members can know each other on a deeper level and support one another better.
Therapeutic approaches for ADHD
My approach when working with individuals of all ages struggling with ADHD is to use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In my experience, this type of therapy is very effective because it encourages the client to identify and change the negative beliefs and behaviors that are causing problems in their lives. Since many individuals with ADHD feel discouraged due to unmet expectations or their inability to focus, one of the main goals of cognitive-behavioral therapy is to transform this negative outlook into a more realistic view to give the client new hope. It is important that each client be treated as a whole person. An individual struggling with ADHD may feel discouraged in relationships, or even in their self-esteem. Challenging negative thought patterns and exploring who the individual truly is deep down, is an important and powerful part of the therapy process when working with ADHD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy also focuses on issues that the individual with ADHD may struggle with on a daily basis such as such as disorganization, work performance problems, and poor time management.
Christian Counseling for ADHD
Together, we find manageable goals and practice coping skills to help your child or teen learn new habits that are effective and affirming. Combining practical tasks and skills with the exploration of an individual’s identity and how they see themselves can foster exciting growth and freedom where it may never have been before. If any of this information was helpful for you or even someone you know, I would be happy to speak with you about counseling or answer any questions you might have about Christian counseling for ADHD. Help is available, and we at Seattle Christian Counseling are here to support children and teens with ADHD as well as their parents.
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