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Can Counseling Help ADHD?

Monday, July 30, 2012 - 17:50

Counseling (or “coaching” as it is sometimes called) can be beneficial for children with ADHD, particularly if they experience problems related to anxiety or depression.


A “coach” can help children build motivation and get organized. The main role of the counselor or “coach” is to help children:

  • Learn to focus on their strengths

  • Become active rather than passive participants in the treatment process as well as in their home and school lives

  • Examine their problems and follow through with solutions

  • Understand the effect that ADHD has on their lives



Need To Know:

Keep in mind that children with ADHD may not enjoy traditional sit in a chair and talk type counseling.



Need To Know:

To help determine if your child might benefit from counseling, answer yes or no to the following questions:


  • Does your child make negative statements about himself/herself, his/her ability to make friends, or his/her schoolwork?

  • Does your child have difficult with sleep, appetite, or moodiness?

  • Is it difficult for your child to talk to you about his/her problems?

  • Have you seen a dramatic change for the worse in your child’s daily behavior and functioning?

  • Does your child understand ADHD, and is he/she a motivated participant in the treatment process?

  • Does the rest of the family need counseling?

  • Is your family under stress?

  • Is there conflict between you and your partner about the best way to work with your child?

  • Are brothers and sisters having a hard time?

  • Do you need to learn better strategies to help your child?

  • Are you having trouble managing your child’s behavior?


Any “yes” answers might mean that your child, or the family, would benefit from counseling. It need not be long term; sometimes just a few sessions can make a big difference.



Alternative Treatments For ADHD


From time to time, you may hear of new treatments for ADHD. For example, in the 1970's, it became popular to limit food additives. These approaches are often sought out by parents who are concerned with the use of medication for a variety of reasons.


The value of medication in the treatment of ADHD has been proven – but alternative treatments can be used together with medication and other approaches.


Need To Know:

Some alternative therapies have been found to be of no value. Others are as yet unproven, and what works for one child may be ineffective for another.


Discuss other options with your doctor. Keep communication lines open. It is possible to integrate several different treatment approaches. Your doctor will keep you child’s best medical interests in mind and is an excellent scientific consumer advocate.




Some other approaches in treating ADHD include:




There is evidence that certain foods may affect some children's behavior – although these foods do not affect most children with ADHD. It is nonetheless worth keeping the following points in mind:

  • Good food is important for everyone. Regular meals with nutritious snacks are an essential part of every child's routine.

  • Following any diet can provide structure and control that can be helpful behaviorally and nutritionally. The rigid following of any diet, however, can worsen certain situations

  • Some children become calmer when they cut down on foods containing excessive sugar, MSG, chocolate and artificial color. If you think this might be the case for your child, work with your doctor to remove these substances from your child's diet, then add them back one at a time and see if you notice any ill effects from them.



Nutritional Supplements

No firm evidence exists that extra vitamins or minerals taken as supplements affect ADHD, although more research is being done in this area. However, it is important to note that nutritional imbalances may affect behavior adversely.

  • Some parents have found that the use of free fatty acid formulations, which include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, might be helpful. Researchers are unclear as to whether this is the case or not.

  • Daily multivitamins are recommended, especially the B group of vitamins.

  • Multimineral supplements including calcium, magnesium, and zinc can be helpful and can possibly improve a child’s response to the use of stimulant medication.


Check with your doctor to avoid excessive dosages of any supplement



Behavior-Changing Therapies

A variety of behavior-changing therapies and educational options have been suggested as being able to allow children with ADHD to focus their attention, build self-esteem, and control their hyperactivity.

  • Biofeedback might help children control “secondary symptoms” such as hyperactivity, but not the problems of inattention. Biofeedback relies on sensitive electronic equipment to help people learn to control certain physical activities. Biofeedback utilizing electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques has been used to address inattention but as yet has not been proven effective.

  • Auditory integration therapies have been suggested as possible treatments for those youngsters with associated sound sensitivities and speech difficulties. Auditory integration therapies revolve around the belief that hearing has a direct bearing on behavior, and that treatment for increased sensitivity to sound results in positive behavioral changes.

  • Various “brain training” programs have also been used in an attempt to correct underlying differences in brain functioning, such as motor or muscle planning difficulties.



Allergy Treatments

Allergy treatments have been proposed for children with a history of allergic symptoms that are associated with ADHD. The use of antifungal treatment approaches has been used especially in younger children with a history of frequent infections and the use of antibiotics.

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