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Adults & ADHD: 5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Therapy

Adults & ADHD: 5 Tips to Get the Most Out of TherapyTherapy is highly effective for treating adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

For instance, psychotherapy can help you better understand how ADHD affects your life. And it can help you develop the necessary skills for managing symptoms, being successful and having healthy relationships.

But in order for therapy to be most effective, you’ll have to work at it.

In his excellent and comprehensive book More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD, clinical psychologist Ari Tuckman, Psy.D, features valuable tips for getting the most out of therapy. Here are five tips from his book.

1. Be an active participant.  

Don’t expect your therapist to do the work for you. Therapy is a collaboration. As Tuckman writes, “The harder you work at it, the more you will get from it. It’s won’t always be easy, but it will be good for you.”

2. Remember that change takes time.

“It’s easy to get excited about something new (This therapy stuff is awesome!) and just as easy to grow bored with it later (We just talk about the same stuff),” Tuckman writes. Remind yourself that change takes time and patience, he writes. But doesn’t anything worthwhile?

3 Be honest and direct with your therapist.

Don’t assume your therapist knows what you’re thinking, feeling or what you need.  Always speak up.

For instance, if you think your therapist is criticizing or nagging you, “… Ask about it, because that perception can really undermine your relationship,” Tuckman writes. It could be that you’re, understandably, extra sensitive after years of criticism. Either way, exploring your feelings is critical in therapy, he notes.

Also, be honest about the therapy itself. “Tell him when you feel that you’re not focusing on the areas that you want to focus on or if it’s not as helpful as you want.”

4. Take notes.

People with ADHD can ramble, which can eat away at their therapy appointment. Tuckman suggests bringing in some notes to your session of the main points you’d like to discuss. You can share your notes with your therapist in the beginning of every session, and they can redirect you when you go off topic.

It’s also helpful to write notes after situations between sessions. That’s because, according to Tuckman, “Good therapy tends to rely on details — what happened, how you felt, what you did next.” So if you have a hard time remembering these points, take notes after something happens, as well.

5. Work between sessions.

Often therapists will assign “homework” for you to do between sessions to help you practice and cement the skills you’re learning in therapy. If you forget to do your assignments, create reminders. For instance, write it down in your planner, and set several alarms on your cell phone and computer. Sometimes, it isn’t that you forgot to do your homework; it’s that you didn’t understand it in the first place. Be sure to raise any questions you might have, so you’re clear on your assignments.

There are many things you can do to ensure you benefit greatly from therapy. Tuckman also stresses the importance of being yourself. He writes, “The goal is for the therapist to really get to know you. Not just the polite you that knows all the social rules, but also the private you that you try to not show too often.”

Adults & ADHD: 5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Therapy

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). Adults & ADHD: 5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 14 Mar 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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