Should You See a Therapist With ADHD?

As a psychotherapist with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who specializes in helping clients manage their ADHD my clients often notice the difference from other therapy right away.

As new clients and I get acclimated to each other in the first several sessions, they often volunteer some of the challenges they’ve experienced with other therapists. I’m sure this is not uncommon in other areas of specialty – that’s what happens when you finally find someone to help you with your specialized concern.

Some of what I hear new clients say about working with their previous therapist:

  • My last therapist seemed perplexed by me and why I couldn’t accomplish the things we discussed.
  • They said they understood ADHD, but when we talked about strategies, it was never more than lists and timers.
  • They weren’t helping me understand my own ADHD.
  • They often seemed frustrated that I was arriving late to sessions.
  • They seemed exasperated by my tangents.
  • They got annoyed when I interrupted them.
  • My last therapist just scheduled week to week when I was asking for help to become more consistent.

Often the basic training therapists receive about ADHD is based upon the observations people without ADHD have made of people with ADHD.

This frames neurodivergence, thinking and functioning differently, as a disorder that needs to be fixed, not integrated. Which often means unless the therapist has ADHD or has been really intentional in learning more about it beyond what is basically offered. They’re approaching their clients with ADHD as being the problem, rather than their clients thinking and functioning differently within a larger system that treats them as a problem. On the outside, that distinction may not look like it matters, but if you’re living with ADHD, you can feel how it matters.

To be fair, lots of people are bothered when interrupted or don’t have patience for a good tangent. The point is not that those therapists were wrong or bad therapists, the point is that the clients weren’t working with someone who was aligned with what they were looking for in therapy for that season. It is fair to be specific about what you’re looking for in therapy and that can change over time. People are multi-dimensional as are therapists, but that doesn’t mean every aspect of you needs to line up with every aspect of your therapist. You can choose to work with someone to process your difficult break-up and after that feels resolved within you, you can choose a different therapist to work on managing your ADHD and how it’s impacting your work.

picture of Jesse Kauffman, LMSW

Jesse Kauffman

ADHD Therapist in Ann Arbor, Michigan

I specialize in helping people with ADHD find integration and alignment in their life. I provide support for professionals, adolescents, and families who are ready to live less scattered and more self-assured.

“What if I’m already working with someone and I really like them, but they’re just not getting my ADHD?” Therapy is often about seeing yourself more clearly in the mirror, but not all mirrors are the same. The mirror you use to see up close is generally not the same mirror you use to see your full body, which are both different than the configuration of mirrors you use to see the back of your head. A capable and mature therapist will understand that you need to work with someone else for a time. They’re also allowed to feel emotions about your work coming to a close – but that’s theirs to manage, not yours. I have felt both sad and proud when clients have let me know they are feeling their integration of ADHD at this point feels good and they are ready to focus on something else that requires a different therapist.

I have my own therapist and we’ve already talked about potentially changing it up in the future. My need for a different therapeutic approach doesn’t invalidate the deep and meaningful work we’ve already shared, it honors it. We’re accomplishing what we agreed to collaborate on and soon it will be time to find something different and new to integrate a different aspect of myself. What aspect of yourself are you hoping to integrate?