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Therapy for ADHD


What Is Therapy for ADHD?

Therapy is part of the treatment for most kids who have ADHD. If you go to therapy, you will have regular meetings with a therapist to help with the problems that ADHD can cause.

Most kids with ADHD take medicine. ADHD medicine boosts the brain's ability to focus, slow down, and wait. Therapy teaches kids how to use these abilities so they can listen and behave better.

Some kids with ADHD also go to another type of therapy, called occupational therapy. This helps when handwriting or balance are difficult because of ADHD or a learning disability.

Why Do Kids Need Therapy for ADHD?

Therapy helps kids with ADHD do better in school and at home. Kids might learn to:

  • focus on schoolwork
  • listen and follow directions
  • be more organized
  • get along better with others
  • wait their turn
  • put upset feelings into words instead of actions
  • be more patient
  • think before they act

Some kids need therapy to help ease difficult emotions. Kids might feel bad about themselves because of the trouble ADHD causes. They might lose confidence or think they can't do things well. They might feel sad, worried, or frustrated because of ADHD.

When kids go to therapy, they work out these emotions. They learn skills that help with ADHD. This lets them do better and feel better about themselves. Therapy helps kids feel happier and more confident.

In ADHD therapy, kids learn by doing, playing, and practicing. A therapist will do activities with you that teach skills you need, like paying attention or using good study habits.

Therapists help kids feel encouraged and supported as they learn.

What Happens in ADHD Therapy?

Your therapist will start by talking with you and your parent. The therapist will ask questions and listen to learn more about how ADHD affects you. Together you will make goals for what you want to improve.

In therapy sessions, you and your therapist might:

  • Talk. Therapists teach kids how to talk about their feelings. Kids learn to put feelings into words instead of actions. Talking and listening helps kids feel understood and ready to learn. It helps them listen and pay attention better too.
  • Play. Therapists use games that teach things like taking turns, following rules, and dealing with losing or winning. They use games to teach you how to take your time instead of rush, and use self-control.
  • Do activities that teach lessons. Therapists might teach lessons about emotions, organizing schoolwork, studying, or understanding others. Activities and worksheets help make these lessons fun.
  • Practice new skills. A therapist might teach skills like mindfulness and breathing exercises. These can train attention and calm the mind and body. Therapists help kids practice what they're learning.
  • Solve problems. Therapists will ask about ADHD problems in school and at home. They will talk with you about how to work out these problems.

How Long Do Kids Do ADHD Therapy?

How long therapy lasts will depend on your goals. Most of the time, a therapist will want to meet with you once a week for a few months.

How Can You Help Yourself?

  • Practice what you learn. Kids learn skills in therapy that help a lot. When you practice, you do better and better.
  • Believe in yourself. Kids with ADHD can improve their attention, self-control, and behavior.
  • Ask for help. Lots of people want to help you do your best. This includes your parents, teachers, and therapist. Ask them for help whenever you need it.
  • Do things you're good at. Maybe you're good at sports, music, reading, or building things. Maybe you're funny, creative, gifted, or kind. Think about your best qualities. Try to use at least one of them every day.
  • Be active every day. Find time to play, move, run around, and have fun. This helps you use your energy in a good way. That makes it easier to focus when it's time for schoolwork.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: December 2017

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