Thriving with adult ADHD: Unleashing your inner potential

The prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults has been a subject of growing interest in recent years. While ADHD is often associated with childhood, research has shown that it can persist into adulthood.


Some studies suggest that ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in males during childhood. However, in adulthood, the gender gap tends to narrow, with a more equal distribution between males and females. 

Adults and ADHD

Many individuals with ADHD are not diagnosed during childhood, and the disorder becomes more noticeable in adulthood as they face increased responsibilities and demands. Some adults receive a formal diagnosis for the first time later in life. Increasing awareness of ADHD in adults has contributed to more individuals seeking help and receiving appropriate treatment. However, stigma surrounding mental health conditions can still be a barrier to diagnosis and treatment.

It's important to recognise that ADHD is a lifelong condition, and its impact can extend into adulthood. Early diagnosis and intervention can be beneficial, but even those diagnosed later in life can benefit from appropriate treatment and support. If you suspect you or someone you know has adult ADHD, it is advisable to consult with a qualified mental health professional for a thorough evaluation and tailored treatment plan.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be an effective therapeutic approach for individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While medication is often the primary treatment for ADHD, CBT can complement it by addressing the behavioural and cognitive aspects of the condition. Here's an overview of how CBT can be applied to ADHD.


CBT starts with educating individuals with ADHD about the disorder. Understanding the symptoms, challenges, and how ADHD affects their life is crucial. This knowledge helps reduce self-blame and stigma.

Goal setting

CBT helps individuals with ADHD set specific, achievable goals. These goals can relate to various aspects of life, such as academics, work, organisation, and time management.

Time management and organisation

CBT teaches practical strategies for managing time and staying organised. This can involve creating schedules, using planners, setting reminders, and breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps.


CBT encourages individuals to track their behaviours and symptoms. This self-monitoring helps identify patterns, triggers, and areas that need improvement.

Identifying cognitive distortions

CBT focuses on identifying and challenging cognitive distortions, such as negative self-talk or catastrophic thinking, which can exacerbate ADHD symptoms. Individuals learn to replace these thoughts with more realistic and constructive ones.

Impulse control

Impulsivity is a core symptom of ADHD. CBT helps individuals develop impulse control by teaching them techniques to pause and think before acting. This includes strategies like "STOP" (stop, think, observe, plan).

Emotional regulation

Emotional dysregulation is common in ADHD. CBT can teach individuals how to recognise and manage their emotions effectively, reducing frustration and impulsivity.

Problem-solving skills

CBT equips individuals with ADHD with problem-solving skills to address challenges that arise in their daily life. This can include finding alternative strategies for common issues.

Behavioural reinforcement

CBT may use behavioural reinforcement techniques, like rewards and consequences, to encourage positive behaviours and discourage problematic ones.

Mindfulness and relaxation

Incorporating mindfulness and relaxation exercises into CBT can help individuals with ADHD reduce stress and improve focus.

Homework and practice

Like any form of therapy, CBT for ADHD often includes homework assignments and regular practice of learned skills. Consistency is key to achieving long-term improvements.

Family and social support

In some cases, CBT may involve family therapy or education to help family members understand ADHD better and provide support.

It's essential to note that CBT for ADHD should be tailored to the individual's unique needs and challenges. A qualified therapist, ideally one with experience in ADHD, can assess the specific issues and design a personalised treatment plan. CBT is often most effective when used in combination with other ADHD treatments, such as medication, to provide a comprehensive approach to managing symptoms and improving daily functioning. If you would like to know more, feel free to visit my profile.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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St. Neots PE19 & Bedford MK40
Written by Donna West, MBACP (Accred)ACTO (Snr) Psychotherapist/Clinical supervisor
St. Neots PE19 & Bedford MK40

I have worked with an array of clients whom have accessed counselling for varying reasons that they feel are inhibiting them from living an authentic life. My role within the therapeutic relationship is to work alongside an individual to facilitate self-exploration and consider alternative routes that may lay before them.

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