Which Professionals Should I Work With When I have ADHD?

Which Professionals Should I work with when I have ADHD?When you have ADHD, it is good to create a professional support team. Each professional has their area of expertise and can help you in your quest to treat and manage your ADHD effectively.

Who you see and when will depend on where you are on your ADHD journey. A person who has been recently diagnosed might see more professionals at a greater frequency than someone who has been actively treating their ADHD for several years.
Also, ADHD is not a stagnant condition, it changes with age and can be affected by what is happening in your life. You might need more support when your life changes (a baby, new job, a relationship) than when your life is more settled.

Here is a brief guide of who to have on your team:

Family Doctor

Your family doctor is usually your first port of call. They can offer support, guidance and refer you to other medical professionals when needed. Some family doctors prescribe ADHD medication, and others will refer you to a psychiatrist who is knowledgeable about ADHD.

Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in mental health. They are usually knowledgeable about ADHD, depression, mood disorders and other co-existing conditions you might have. Psychiatrists can diagnoses ADHD and prescribe medication.

Your psychiatrist might also offer therapy and education about ADHD. Sometimes people feel there is stigma attached to seeing a psychiatrist, but there is no shame to getting the right help from the right person.

Psychologist

Working with a psychologist or therapist helps you process events and emotions that can stem from having ADHD. For example, low self-esteem, anger, relationship issues and shame. They can also help with conditions that frequently co-exist with ADHD, such as anxiety, addictions and depression. There are many types of therapy, however research shows Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CTB) is an effective form of therapy for people with ADHD. Look for a therapist who has experience with adult ADHD.

The success of  therapy and coaching (see below) depends on your relationship with the therapist or coach. If your personality or styles do not gel, that doesn’t mean therapy or coaching isn’t for you. It just means you haven’t find the right professional for you.

ADHD Coach

Coaches help with practical aspects of life with ADHD. They can help you set up structure, a routine an organized environment – all the things that help ADHD symptoms but are hard to do when you are living with it. Coaches provide accountability, and
help you develop skills such as time management and how to overcome procrastination and much more.

Does My Team Speak to Each Other?

Some people like the idea that their professional team is discussing their treatment. Others worry they will be talked about behind their back. Your psychiatrist might contact your family doctor in a letter to let them know what medications you are on. However, the other professionals would need written consent from you in order share notes or have a conversation about you.

How to Find the Right Professionals

No location is perfect. Here in Montreal there is a shortage of family doctors and psychiatrists that specialize in ADHD. On the plus side there are many excellent therapists. Your location will have pluses and minuses too. Don’t give up, be persistent. It might take a while to find your dream team but it is possible.

Ask for Recommendations

Remember the saying ‘Birds of feather flock together?’ This applies to professionals too. If you have found one professional you like, ask them if they can recommend someone else, a therapist/doctor etc. They will know people who are good in the ADHD area.
Another great place to ask for recommendations is at your local ADHD support group.

Location

Nowadays we are not limited by location. At least half of my clients live in another country. Thanks to Skype and the telephone, we no longer need to work with people who live in close proximity to us.

Some therapists offer Skype appointments too. A good resource for finding therapists in your location or that work via Skype is: www.psychologytoday.com.

Finding your team might not happen instantly. There might be a bit of trial and error until you find someone who is both knowledgeable about ADHD and whose style resonates with you. When you find someone who fits this criteria, stick with them!

Even if you don’t need to see them for 5 years, you will know they are there.

Who is on your support team?

 

 

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Comments

  1. Dr. Lee says:

    All of this (both blog & comments) is so true. I’m a psychologist with ADHD. The knowledge that your professionals possess & the services they offer can be quite variable. I’m in an underserved rural area, so we have very few psychiatrists & psychiatric PA’s or psych Nurse Practitioners. They’re so busy that there’s no way they can find time to offer counseling & they don’t have a chance to become more focused/specialized in something like ADHD/ADD. Some fam. practice docs DON’T take ADHD-only patients b/c it prevents them from seeing general patients. Also, I know I’ve become a lot more knowledgeable about ADHD since I was diagnosed (grad school students only touch the tip of the ADHD iceberg), but I still feel like I hardly know anything about it. This is because ADHD is so complex & it’s so different for each person affected. There are so many variable factors that affect how AD(H)D presents for a certain person on any given day that it’s like trying to predict the weather accurately when you only know a handful of data points out of the infinite data points that actually affect it. If a counselor/psychologist wants to be very knowledgeable on ADHD, they have to direct a significant amount of time toward it, which takes time away from the general part of their practice. That’s hard to do in an underserved rural area. One of the best things AD(H)D people & parents can do is to learn as much as possible on their own (e.g., this blog, other well established blogs/websites, books, etc.). The more you know, the more you can help yourself and the more you’ll know who can really be helpful. If a professional isn’t helpful, just drop them. It’s not personal, you’re just doing what needs to be done. Don’t take it personally if a professional doesn’t know as much about AD(H)D & you or your kid as you do; also be open minded to what they DO know, because good ideas can come from anywhere.

  2. Carmela Zakon says:

    I have been to several therapists who purport to specialize in ADHD but when I see them, it becomes all too clear that they have a very elementary understanding of its associated symptoms. I would love to hire a coach, but they are not covered by insurance and I don’t have a lot of money to spare.

    • Hi Camela, great point! some people say they understand ADHD, but only the basics.
      In terms of coaching..Group coaching, is often available and that is a more affordable way to have coaching, plus you get the benefits of meeting other people with ADHD too, and learn from there experiences.

      • I think this sounds so fun! Or joining a group? I would love to in the future. I think talking with people who also have ADHD is SO helpful

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