Unlocking ADHD Contributor Elena Ho writes about counselling and how it may benefit individuals with ADHD on their Journey in the Woods. Elena is a trained Counsellor who has lived with ADHD all her life.
What is Counselling?
Counselling is talk therapy with a professionally trained counsellor or psychotherapist. Counsellors are trained to listen compassionately and without judgement. They create a safe space for their clients to speak freely about issues they are experiencing or struggling with.
Counsellors do not offer advice, answers or tell clients what to do to fix a situation. Instead, they help to process challenges and help their clients move on to a more positive place on their ‘Journey in the Woods’. The therapeutic journey takes time and the duration of therapy varies with individual needs and concerns.
People seek counseling for a variety of reasons. These may include struggles with past issues, difficulty with school or work, peer pressure, grief and loss, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationships, life transitions, etc. Some of them see a counselor simply to be heard.
ADHD and Mental Health
Individuals with Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have a neurodevelopmental condition, which simply means that their brains are wired differently from birth. As a result of this condition, they may struggle with day-to-day inattentiveness, impulsiveness and/or hyperactivity. This can make it difficult for them to manage relationships, school and work life, life transitions, and adulting. More often than not, they are perceived to be lazy, unreliable, unpredictable and difficult – the list of negative labels go on. Unfortunately, these labels are hurtful and unhelpful, and can become a lifelong narrative for the ADHD individual.
Individuals with ADHD may also struggle with Deficient Emotional Self-regulation (DESR) and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) where their emotions, both the negative and positive, are intensely amplified.
They may have difficulty managing their emotions as feelings of hurt, rejection, sadness, and grief are often experienced more deeply than others. Moreover, the common negative self-perceptions that they are never good enough and are unaccepted for who they are perpetuate these negative feelings..
Many individuals with ADHD mask their struggles, which can be emotionally draining. However, this also gives them the ability to develop deep connections with others, allowing them to possess a great depth of compassion and empathy.
Some people with ADHD engage in risky behaviors. They may struggle with addictions related to behavior and substance abuse or may take part in high-risk activities to provide adequate brain stimulation. There are others who live under the stress of a mismanaged existence where they find it challenging to manage finances, appointments, and deadlines.
The consequences of such behaviors frequently result in a cycle of depression, anxiety, and burnout. When their quality of life has been significantly affected, they are left wondering, “How did I get here?”
How can Counselling Benefit a Person with ADHD?
Life can sometimes be overwhelming and it is hard enough just to stay on top of things. Unexpected events do happen and it can derail that balancing act, leading individuals with ADHD to fall off the tracks. Sometimes it can be easy to get back up. At other times, however, they may encounter a roadblock because of challenges related to ADHD and find it difficult to get back on track.
Counselling helps the individual with ADHD figure out what happened and how to cope in a positive way that works for them. The therapeutic process is an empowering one that helps the individual untangle the knots in their head and move forward positively in life. It helps to have that space to talk, to be seen, and to be heard.
Sometimes it’s hard to make it out of the darkness, but with some help, we can reach for the light.
If you need professional support from a counsellor, reach out. You do not have to struggle alone.