CBT for ADHD

One of my favorite slogans is “Never underestimate the power of positive thinking”. So when I learned about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), it seemed like the perfect addition to my tool belt for working with ADHD adults.  A brief primer for those unfamiliar with CBT:  The idea is that negative thinking causes us to feel bad, which in turn affects our motivation and behavior. If you’re saying things to yourself like “I’ll never be able to do that” or “why do I always screw up?”, you feel bad.  You procrastinate, or do other unhealthy things. You stay stuck. Conversely, if you challenge those negative thoughts and replace them with something like “I’ve been successful with things that were harder than this”, or consciously look for examples of where you did not screw up, you’ll feel better. And, as you’ve probably noticed, feeling good makes it much easier to do just about anything.

What does this have to do with ADHD?  Well, I've noticed over the years that we ADDers tend to be really down on ourselves. It's probably from programming we received growing up. We were often told, explicitly or implicitly, that we're no good, lazy, will never reach our potential.  Ouch.

Changing the way you think, and creating healthier habits, isn’t as simple as it might sound. Often, we aren’t aware of these negative thoughts. They tend to pop up automatically without us even noticing.  And when you are aware of them, sometimes it’s hard to get out of the negativity by yourself.

CBT was designed to increase awareness, identify negative thoughts (which are often "distorted", or inaccurate), and replace them with healthier thinking. It also helps you solve real-world problems and change the way you do things.  That’s the “B” in CBT – changing your behavior.  Your actions.  And it’s one of the most evidence-based (i.e. tested) mental health treatments around.  CBT plus an in-depth knowledge of ADHD - such as what a specialist like myself would have - is very powerful combination. Anyone with attention-related concerns, who also tends to dwell in the land of negativity, would be well advised to give it a try.

I recently attended training on CBT at the Beck Institute.  CBT was initially developed by Dr. Aaron Beck back in the 1960s. He still participates in the training workshops that are now run by his daughter, Dr. Judith Beck.  Getting this training directly from the source, along with people from all over the USA and 22 different countries, was an incredible experience. While I’ve been using CBT since my grad school internship, I learned a lot during this training that I am now using in my work with clients.  I’m even more jazzed about it than I was before, which is saying a lot.