Is it time to break up with your ADHD child’s therapist?


“I actually feel a little desperate as we have tried several therapists who have said they specialize in individuals with ADHD but they do nothing to address the executive functioning deficits or social skills deficits.”

This quote was taken from an email I recently received from a parent.  I hear similar stories from parents who reach out to me between 4-6 times per month on average.   

Why do I hear this recurring theme so much?  Because mental health professionals receive little to no training in addressing lagging skills associated with ADHD.  A search on the “Find a Therapist” feature on Psychology Today would seem contradictory to this.  The majority of clinicians on Psychology Today list ADHD as an issue they address. 

I believe that ADHD is a disorder that is not taken seriously by the mental health field thus it is no surprise that most mental health professionals are not motivated to receive any specific training in treating ADHD.   Unfortunately, this has a significant impact on families.  Many parents (like the one above) have shared with me that they have tried working with multiple therapists yet have found that the focus is on talking about feelings, reviewing the week etc.   Despite the fact that they are cognizant of the fact that therapy is not an effective use of time or financial resources many parents feel a sense of loyalty to their child’s therapist because they’ve been working with them for a while, they like the therapist on a personal level, etc. 

ADHD is a disorder of lagging skills (executive functioning, emotional regulation and for many social cognitive skills).   If you’re child has lagging skills they need to learn skills and strategies to help develop these skills.  As a parent you need information to help them generalize these skills.  

To the parent’s point here, if a clinician says they specialize in ADHD but they do not teach skills/strategies to address executive functioning and social learning deficits then I’m not sure what they’re doing to address ADHD. 

My advice to parents:  You are paying a therapist to help you solve a problem, teach your child skills and strategies.  You are not obligated to stay in a professional relationship with someone simply because you like them or you’ve been with them a while.   The older a child becomes without receiving effective help, the more the window of opportunity slips by.   Take advantage of the time you have now. 

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